The debut of 'Spiritus' a powerhouse of creative daring

The debut of ‘Spiritus’ a powerhouse of creative daring

By Brandy Dykhuizien, Stefania Rudd, and Arpad OkayOur Week In Review sums up our weekly comic book coverage while taking time for a new review or two before it’s all over. Did we miss your favorite books this week? Well. This is where you need to be.

Spiritus #1, by Michael Kennedy. (Vault)Spiritus #1

Vault Comics/$3.99

Written by Tim Daniel.

Art by Michael Kennedy.

Letters by Lauren Norby.

AOK: Part fighter pilot, part panda, a rescue robot is a propaganda film argument that rehabilitation through bodily imprisonment works. A convicted taker of lives can become a savior through rebirth, when their consciousness is transferred into an android slave.

This is the world Tim Daniel has written in Spiritus. The story of a triangle. Its apex is Kinju. Innocent prisoner. Born fighter. One base vertex is the authority she breaks against, Reveles, the cowboy. The outsider who keeps the peace at the line of society and savagery. The third angle is Janus, the devil that Kinju has to strike a bargain with for her freedom.

Spiritus is the test of Kinju’s strength.

The art is a cornucopia of informed choices. Michael Kennedy’s jagged lines and breathtaking color palette, all muted neon and vivid pastels, imbue Spiritus with life and unique flavor. Dynamic, heavy inks fill the panels with texture, defining the faces, the backdrops, the weight of personalities and moments. Scratches and strokes abound, giving shape to cloth, wear to environments, humanity to expressions.

Clouds of black surround clouded minds. Underneath lies an otherworldly sherbet. The coloring choices refuse to have anything to do with what colors things really are but adamantly follow the rules of shape and light and depth. It’s truly stunning.

Technology is expressed in curves, handmade angles, controlled chaos. The robots themselves look like mecha from the era before Neon Genesis Evangelion, more skeleton racer than gothic armor, made of car parts and parabolic edges instead of hard angles.

And then there’s the perspective through robot eyes. It’s pure genius, an inverted color scheme, like scratchboard, like the arcade cabinet Empire Strikes Back, lines vectored on black. The early anime robot tech, retro CPU visuals, and bleak military atmosphere all mesh perfectly for a powerhouse debut. Spiritus rules.

9.5 out of 10

Cover to 'Elsewhere' #1. Art by Sumeyye Kesgin and Ron Riley/Image ComicsElsewhere #1

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Jay Faerber.

Art by Sumeyye Kesgin.

Colors by Ron Riley.

Letters and design by Thomas Mauer.

SR: The question of what happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan is one of history’s greatest mysteries, which makes it a fascinating subject for a story that can play with anyone’s wildest dreams. In Elsewhere #1, writer Jay Faerber and artist Sumeyye Kesgin apply their imaginations to what happened to the airborne duo, and has them landing in a mysterious planet full of strange beings.

The action starts strong when two of the planet’s inhabitants, Cort and Tavel, find Amelia stuck in a tree due to her parachute. She learns very quickly there is an evil ruler by the name of Lord Kragen, and that he possibly has Fred. The three come up with an idea, although Tavel wants no part of it, to get Amelia captured in order to rescue Earhart’s famous flying companion. Things go according to plan, and Amelia is found by Lord Kragen’s minions and thrown into a cell that already has an inhabitant in it. Thinking she has found Fred, we get a twist when the prisoner introduces himself as — well, that’d be spoiling the fun.

I think that Faerber captures the spirit of the famous flying ace incredibly well. In Elsewhere, Amelia Earhart is fierce, brave, unwavering — everything you’d imagine (or hope) she would be.

Even though Amelia and the inhabitants of Korvath speak a different language, they are able to understand one another. Maybe it’s like that thing Doctor Who has where you can speak a foreign tongue without it interrupting how you hear yourself? In any case, the dialogue is fast-paced and helps move the action along.

Kesgin’s artwork is realistic and detailed, and you can see how she pushes herself to craft a tangible world that rides the line between credible and incredible. (She succeeds marvelously.) Ron Riley’s coloring enhances the feel of the book, which is, in a word, exhilarating. Elsewhere is terrific. Make sure you read it.

9 out of 10

'Galaktikon' #1, from Albatross PressGalaktikon #1

Albatross/$3.99

Written by Brendon Small with Eric Powell.

Art by Steve Mannion.

Colors by Marissa Louise.

Letters by Warren Montgomery.

BD: Based on Brendon Small’s 2012 metal album of the same name, Galaktikon follows the antics of Triton, a falling hero trying to navigate a nasty divorce. Too drunk to even remember whether it was he or his ex-wife who leaked the intergalactic dick pics, no one’s feeling too sorry for the guy who sent a likeness of his wang to an underage stripper.

The story is conceptually funny, riddled with charming little details like a stripper planet named Amberia and robot divorce court judges who’ve had all the empathy upgraded out of them. However, the dialogue was oddly stuttering and many of the jokes felt strained, which is surprising coming from the writer who brought us Home Movies and Metalocalypse.

The infantile and oft-inebriated antihero could draw comparisons to the titular character of FX’s Archer, with all the mama issues and bad manners, but minus the acerbic wit. What Triton does bring to the table, however, is a fantastic BFF – a pedal bin who speaks in musical notation.

And here’s the best part: Not only can you play along with the guitar tablature to mimic the robot sidekick’s voice, but Small includes detailed instructions in the intro on how to make a whammy bar and a wah pedal work the appropriate magic. This comic is a guitar nerd’s dream.

Triton was too busy battling his own demons to get to the baddie in this issue, but we did get a glimpse of quite the scary monster headed his way. Maybe we can expect an epic space battle in the next issue. Or, perhaps, the soundtrack is meant to be more important than the story this time around.

6 out of 10

From earlier this week — 

Preview: Beyond space and time is a damn murderer in ‘Eternity’ #1

REQUIRED READING: Explore the enchanted world of ‘The Backstagers’, prepare for feels

STAFF PICKS: Image, Fantagraphics, and BOOM! made this fifth week all right

UNDERCOVER: Here are five covers from this week that we can’t live without

The timely themes of ‘Ghost Money’ might chill you to the bone

Fun-filled Batman books, “The Red Death”, “The Murder Machine”, out soon

REBIRTH IN REVIEW: King & Janín’s “War of Jokes and Riddles” a crime saga of Coppola-level proportions

BUILDING A BETTER MARVEL: ‘Generations’ comes out of the gate in the truly mystifying Marvel manner

What books did YOU read this week? We want to know! Tell us about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.

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