Friday, November 10, 2006

Prep Time Posse

Prep Time Posse

I finally figured this batch out!

Alright, I've decided to write at least weekly about all things comic-bookish. I've got a couple of things ready and they kinda run the gamut: reviews (spoiler and non), editorials, one essay so far, and even an original story I'd like to turn into a book. I'm still unfamiliar enough with blogging to not be aware if I'm going to get feedback on any of this, but I assure the entirety of the Prep-Timers: If you check back in every week, there will be something new here for you. I have decided to title my weekly offering "KRAKA-THOOM!!" because no other word, not "SHAZAM" nor the repetition of "SNIKT SNIKT", embodies everything I appreciate so much about comics as the wonderful display of those large letters jostly displayed across a stormy sky. I must have seen that word used in books a couple of dozen times before I realized that I had found a book that actually used it correctly. Eric Powell, the creator of the brilliant THE GOON series, did a small, yet beautifully evocative, story I found in a MARVEL Strange Western Tales book a year or two ago. The opening panel was of a torrential downpour on a wide open prairie, completely dark and damp. The next panel featured the same shot yet there was a blisteringly bright whitish-yellow steak of lightning stretching through this gargantuan sky, no lettering at all. The next panel was the original panel again, the lightning bolt had since disappeared, but there was this huge block lettered KRACKA-THOOOOOM rumbling the sky. And it hit me like a thousand Wildcat gut punches...thunder follows lightning. It was such a small simple thing, as so many epiphanies are, but it was just the greatest example of just what comics can do that other media can't. I took what might be thought of as a limit of the sequential art medium and absolutely used it to an advantage in the pacing and manipulation of the panels. Fantastic.

So anyways...on with the show.

You need to be reading REVERE.

I'll stress the urgency because the book's publisher, ALIAS COMICS, has decided its going to solely do Christian books from here until the second coming and this book might not sit well with the more pious amongst their reading audience. However, those readers might very well enjoy the book immensely as all the main characters, both the good and the morally bankrupt alike, seem to be devoutly religious. At least on outward appearances. Indeed, this is a small example of what I find most redeeming about the book. I've long been a fan of books that are set in various locales and in various eras dealing with any number of circumstances, with the one unifying theme in all of those varied books being the adherence to authenticity the creators displayed. This book drips with that adherence. The verbiage and the wardrobe of its time period and locale, the Northeastern American Colonies just before the Revolutionary War, is alive and well represented in this title.

The book does a fine job of showing us that what we now know hold dear official US History was very much up in danger of turning out drastically different. We're given slices of various different lives to view. Rag-tag rebel guerrilla inhabitants were scattered and discouraged. They were facing an uphill battle against an overwhelming and polished enemy who was at the time, the one and only Superpower the world knew. But just as the people of the country these days possess differing opinions on the state of affairs, so it was then. Not all the characters depicted in the book are of the revolutionary ilk. There are the loyalists, those comfortable in their station and not eager to see their way of life be threatened or obliterated by the ouster of England from the colonies. They are protected by, and subservient to, the British soldiers arriving on the American shore in large numbers by orders of the Monarchy back home. Amidst all of this there is a delightful adherence to that authenticity I spoke of and its refreshing to enjoy a book that doesn't dumb itself down for mass consumption. This is a niche book and it knows it and it celebrates it.
People speak to each other in the vernacular and syntax of the time and I am not embarrassed to say I often found myself reading balloons a few times over to fully set myself into the pace of the story. This was not always due to ignorance on my part, however and it is another fine feature of the richness of this book. There are several instances in the book in which characters speak in a code or utter an accepted an understood phrase, which would be greeted by a specifically prepared response allowing both parties to know that they are in the company of friends and can speak freely their revolutionary mind. I wondered if any of these were actual codes or messages used by the Revolutionary generation as they gathered in hidden cellars and bootlegger basements and plotted treason over 200 years ago.

This book conveys all the pomp and pageantry of the British soldiers as well the stoic bravery and ragged stubbornness of the Revolutionary forefathers with the beautiful artwork of Grant Bond. His hyper-realized style looks as if it jumped right off the screen of a Disney film, but with a freer looser line. It serves the book expertly throughout, but best in the fast-paced chase scenes with characters scared out of their wits and running around willy-nilly. The close and impending doom is felt on the page. the battle scenes are jarring and contain just enough gruesome gore to be effective. The coloring is unabashedly computerized and while this style is not really my favorite, it is used extremely well here as the colors they employ are broad and not commonly used. The eerie mood is set with the purply and brownish tones they employ. The creepy night skies are darkened and rainy, illuminated by occasional lightning streaks and wickedly full moons ready to burst. All of it works wonderfully with the creepy horror vibe of the monsters and the carnage they leave in their wake. What's that? Oh yeah...didn't I mention it? Well then, I guess I should get to it. The main focus of the book is the threat to the colonist posed by the Monsters. Yeah, that's right...MONSTERS.

It seems strange things are afoot in colonial New England and I'm not referring only to soldiers of the British Commonwealth. Creatures of the night are on the hunt and the hero named in the book's title, PAUL REVERE for those of you who were reading X-FORCE during US History, is just the man to fight them. He's also apparently the only one aware o the danger and just how, well, dangerous it all really is. So not only do the Sons of Liberty have to worry about Redcoats, they have to worry about their own coats turning red as Were-wolves and Zombified Human Crows of prehistoric size make meals of their vitals. Now, I know I made a strong point of how much I enjoyed this book because of its adherence to realism in its tone and language, and I really do admire that part of the book the most. But dammit it is awesome to see a man from the pages of history, a figure who was nothing ever more than a name, ride high in the saddle wielding his paper-load revolver and solid steel sabre and take down devils and demons with righteous revolutionary zealousness.

I love what the creators have done here. They have set us so firmly in a long-lost time and place and tweaked it on its ear by giving a timeless threat to it. They've done it in a beautiful and intelligently creative way. I am saddened to see that we only have one issue remaining but then that just means that all of you can enjoy a completely original and extremely well told story for $15 measly bucks. I can't express enough to you how much I have dug these 3 issues, and all I can really say is: KRACKA-THOOOOM!!!


buckshot said...

Sounds pretty nifty. I'll seek this one out.


JRennoldz said...

First off, YOU are a great writer. You are very descriptive and talented when it comes to conveying the thrills of comic-booking. Props!

Second, welcome to the PTP! I look forward to reading your pieces each week.

Third, I will definitely be on the lookout for this book. It sounds creepy.