22 PAGE REVIEW: "IV ARMAGEDDON"

So it would appear I took September off.... Sorry about that. As an aside, this is also the first post I am making after the switch to the new Squarespace 7 beta. So, I apologize if you see any formatting oddities. 

Anyway, as I said in my blurb, that you'd see if you clicked on this link from the main page, I am a big fan of comics. I absolutely adore the way that the art and the written word mingle on the page like that. Like a good movie, they strike a delicate balance between telling a good story, and painting an appealing visual experience. I've said in the past, that a bad story can be salvaged with good art. Likewise, a good story can be completely undermined by awful art. 

Likewise, I spoke of how it is an honor to be approached by someone to review their product. In part, it shows that they in some way value your opinion. So, whenever I am approached to review a product, it brings a smile to my face. This is one of those instances where I was approached, and I gladly accepted (despite some misgivings that will be addressed below). So, without further adieu, shall we begin?

Art provided by the comic's author.

By: Timothy G. Reaper and Alan Cole (Story), Alan Cole (Script), Luis Palacios (Art, Colors, Cover, and lettering)

I think it best to start at the beginning, wouldn't you agree? I was approached a few days ago by the writer of the comic, where he pitched the idea rather simply. For your perusal, a small snippet of the initial pitch he gave me:

Now we're debuting our third title, our first fully colored comic, 'IV: Armageddon'. It's the first issue of a 51 issue EPIC saga. It's tagline:

YOU KNOW THEIR NAMES
Lucifer...Michael...Gabriel...Abaddon...Joshua...Enoch
Death...War...Pestilence...Famine
NOW LEARN THEIR STORY

This is what was sent my way, and I will admit, I had some initial misgivings about the concept. You see, I try and avoid reviewing overtly religious material, to avoid letting my personal bias towards such matters show through. It does no one any good, if I am reviewing things after starting with negative feelings. So when I replied to Alan's initial message, I did question how heavily this would rely on a religious foundation. He assured me that it was an influence, but not the entirety of the concept. So, I agreed to check out the comic.

Right off the bat, I notice that they got a good artist to work on this book. Strong line work, an amazing eye for detail, and some strikingly dynamic poses combine well with superb lettering to create a unique visual feel that is easily able to hold one's attention. There is a keen eye on anatomy, (perhaps overly so), and one can tell that there was great attention paid to the characters and their musculature. Honestly, it is spectacular work. 

A large two-page style spread from the comic. Good example of interior art.

My chief complaint in the whole endeavor, is that there is very little differentiation between the characters. Granted, they dress differently, and have different hair, but on the most part, their physical presence is almost identical. All characters in this introductory chapter are overly-muscled men. That appears to be the only body type represented. However, this is the first chapter of a 51 issue epic, so some of that is forgivable, as all characters have not made it to the story as of yet. In future issues however, I would like to see a little more variation, as well as some female characters. I can't say for sure how Luis handles the female form, but hopefully we shall get a chance to see that in the next issue.

From a story-telling standpoint, this issue does a good job laying out the foundation of what is to come. It introduces some of the key characters that I assume will be a large part of the narrative. It hints at the Armageddon-centric story, and left me wondering what was going to happen next. This issue is mostly exposition, so there is only a small action beat at the end, however, I think a story of this length warrants a strong foundation on story, rather than action. The big thing here, is even though this story derives some inspiration from characters found in the bible, at no point does it have that heavy-handed preachy feeling that it could have easily lapsed into. Instead, it feels like an action fantasy, something akin to the bastard child of the movies "Legion" and "The Prophecy". Yes, there are angels involved, but they aren't sitting there preaching, instead they seem dead set on killing each other. Honestly, I'm okay with that.

Final Thoughts: All in all, this comic is a good story foundation. It offers up good art, and a different slant on what could have been a very familiar story. Considering the ambition of the story itself, I can't help but feel that this could have a very good pay off. I look forward to seeing where the story ultimately goes. This is one to keep your eyes on. I may very well revisit this review once the second issue hits.

22 Page Score: B  (Good art, marred a little bit by an almost generic male form, combined with an interesting slant on a familiar story, make this a comic that could turn into something amazing.)

The comic can be purchased HERE. Check it out.