Before I delve into the review, I thought I would plug something that was not part of my original plans, but came up when I went looking for a good image to include in this review. Issue 3 is currently funding over on Kickstarter, and I'd encourage everyone to head on over there and check it out. Head over HERE and consider backing this project. Now, onto the review.
Created by: Chris Campana ,Pencils by: Chris Campana, Colors by: Bryan Arfel Magnaye , Letters by: Ron Wybraniec
I have made my enjoyment of the various works of Chris Campana no secret. I've got copies of Kantara, as well as multiple copies of the first issue of "First World" lying around the office, and there may be a copy of the cover of that first issue just waiting for a frame, before it makes it onto the wall. So for me to heap more praise on to this might seem almost pointless to some. I would disagree. There is a certain ebb and flow to the creative juices. Sometimes, the dam breaks, and creativity spews forth, making the process easy. In these moments, you can see the passion splayed out on the page, a glorious testament to the creative process. Other times, the dam refuses to break, and the artist struggles through this creative drought. Again, this lack of creative energy can often be clearly seen played out on the page. When I look back at the works of people I am familiar with, I am looking for these ebbs and flows. Seeking to see if this story feels like it is progressing naturally, or if it was squeezed out against its will.
The first issue of the comic, gave a nice foundation for the story. It laid out the building blocks for a large world, and tossed out some nice hooks to try and pull you back in for the next issue. Effective methods that pay off quite well in the second issue. In this issue you are treated to more action, more character development, and some new twists to help keep things interesting. Furthermore, the whole thing gets tied back to the Kantara books, which helps to flesh out the universe even more. From a story-telling standpoint, this issue is a triumph. A very clear improvement over the first issue.
When it comes to the art, an interesting thing happened between the first and second issue. I want to preface this, by saying what I am about to say is not meant to sound hyper-critical, that is not how it is intended. In the first issue, they used the trio of Scott Shriver, Ron Wybraniec, and Nic Poliwko to ink, color, and letter respectively. Together that trio took Chris' art and story, and elevated to something spectacular. This issue, has switched things up, gone are Scott Shriver's inks, and Ron Wybraniec's colors, and even Nic Poliwko's lettering. Ron has taken over the lettering, and honestly, the change is not particularly jarring. It is noticeable, but it isn't a deal breaker at all. The oddness comes with the loss of an inker and the addition of Bryan Arfel Magnaye as the colorist.
Here's where I start to sound like an over-critical asshole. Keep reading, and bear with me, and if I am mistaken, please let me know. The primary job of the inker, from what I have gathered, is two-fold. First, they take the pencils and clean them up, make them less sketchy. Second, they add extra depth to the page, above and beyond what the pencils provide. Take the image below for example:
I spliced these two images together from the PDFs of both issues. The two images are of the same character, separated only by an inker and a colorist. Notice how clean the image on the left looks, compared to the one on the right. Without the inker, the sketchiness of the pencils shows through when you color. Pencil lines can be difficult to color, leaving the colorist to guess sometimes as to what certain edges are. The inks give the colorist a better defined area to color, and thus leaves the final image looking sharper. I draw your attention to Arana's belt above. In the image on the left, it exists. In the image on the left, it appears to have become part of the shirt. However, it is also possible that she just changed clothes.
The change is not necessarily a bad thing. Granted, there is a huge difference in the final product between issue one and issue two, however, the pencils at the heart of it all are still the same. Chris is more than competent with his pencils, and the strength he exhibits there, shines through even without the benefit of an inker. The characters are still easily recognized between issues, and that alone is a strong accomplishment with the change up on the team. The art throughout remains strong, and still manages to feel appropriate to the story, even with the slightly rougher appearance.
Final thoughts: All in all, this was a great follow up to a very nice first issue. It builds upon the promise of the first issue, and gives you a great glimpse into the larger world that this comic encompasses. Most importantly, it has left me wanting to know what happens next. Which means I will be back for issue 3. (Already a backer on the Kickstarter campaign, and I encourage you to join in. Once again, the link is HERE )
22 Page Score: A-. A strong follow up to the original, that improves on the first a great deal in terms of story. While the graphical changes were slightly jarring at first, it grew on me, and honestly, after a little while I only noticed it because I had noted it at the beginning.)
Purchase Issue 2 (or any of Chris' other books) HERE!