In Review: Insexts #1

This has me buzzing in anticipation to see what's next. Recommended.

The covers: A pair for you to fly to your local store to find. The Main cover is by Ariela Kristantina and Bryan Valenza, the interior artist and colorist. Lady Bertram looks at the reader hungrily as she embraces her lover, servant Mariah. The beautiful Art Nouveau background is deceptively pleasing, because upon closer inspection one can see that a wide variety of insects and arachnids are falling upon the unconcerned couple. This is a gorgeous cover with fantastic coloring that only hints at what lies within this book’s pages. This is how a book’s premiere cover should be! The Variant cover is by John Cassaday with Paul Mounts and Phil Hester. This features both women in the bottom half, with Mariah looking at the reader and Lady Bertram in profile. Above their heads are the silhouettes of two little girls flying a kite. The visuals are made exceptionally strong by the coloring, with the women being in an eerie green and the girls’ fun against a yellow sky. Very well done. Overall grades: Main A+ and Variant A

The story: You’ve not read anything like this before. Beginning with the point of view from a dragonfly that makes its unfortunate way into Lady Bertram’s room, “Chrysalis” by Marguerite Bennett opens with the lady being dressed for bed by Mariah. As she attempts to assist her employer, the lady notices that her husband has been abusing Mariah — again. Lady Bertram volunteers to send her to live with her sister in America, but is stopped by Mariah saying, “I would not be parted from you, my lady.” The servant then stands and strongly kisses her mistress. This moment of joy causes the lady more pain, who wishes she had never wedded her husband Harry. “…It’s my fault…If I could just give him a child, he says…” And that’s where things take a turn. A very unexpected turn. What occurs on Pages 6 and 7 isn’t surprising or shocking, though for the time — 1894 in London — it would be scandalous, but what happens in the final panel on 7 is the “What the–?!” moment. Naturally, Henry must enter into the tale, but he is sadly unaware of what will be entering him. Pages 16 and 17 are horrific, with the result being another jaw-dropper. The penultimate page teases what will come next for this couple, though the final page leaves a big question mark with how it will be achieved. I don’t know where this is going. I have no idea what to expect. All I know is I’ve fallen into this world and have to see where it’s going. Overall grade: A+

The art: Ariela Kristantina gets to do a tremendous variety of work on this book. She has to create insects, a Victorian setting, some of the rich, some prostitutes, and then a good bit of buildings — and that’s only on the first page! She does an excellent job with the three leads, wearing (and not wearing) the clothes of the era. The women’s garb is especially well done, shown in both bed clothes and at a ball. The hair on the women is very fetching, used to emphasize status and emotion. The intimate scenes are also drawn well, beginning with a good heartfelt panel at the bottom of 5. The addition to the intimate action on 7 is grotesque, which it is intended to be, with the visual reaction to it on 8 and 9 startling. The bottom panel of 9 is a wowser: subtle and disturbing. 10 and 11 have a three-quarters spread that showcases many new characters in a new setting. It’s perfectly lavish and sets the situation well. 13 replays the action of 7 from a new perspective, as the fourth panel on 14 replays the bottom of the same page. Having shown that she is more than skilled at illustrating people and places, with an odd fanciful addition, Kristantina shows she can also do horror exceptionally well. Pages 16 and 17 are undeniably graphic, yet are necessary for this story. The final page is an excellent tease of things to come, and I cannot wait to see what Kristantina gets to draw next. Overall grade: A 

The colors: The color scheme of this book is unlike anything I’ve seen in other books. Bryan Valenza is doing a pastel-like set of colors for the book, with violets, greens, and oranges dominating. The second panel on the opening page has a slick use of colors to remind readers from whose point of view they’re seeing the story. When Lady Bertram and Mariah appear, readers should take note of the strong use of highlighting on their skin to show the light source in the scene. The graphic scene on 16 doesn’t just rely on red for horror, but by changing the background color to green, it emphasized tremendously. Valenza’s colors make the art just a titch off from normal — and watch the colors of everyone’s eyes! Overall grade: A

The letters: A song, sounds, scene setting, dialogue, two sounds of release, whispers, screams, and next issue’s tease are brought to life by A Larger World. I really enjoyed their opening song work, and I’ll give them credit for rendering an orgasm in a unique textual way. Overall grade: A

The final line: I had no idea what this book would be about, but picked it up because I enjoyed Replica which AfterShock published the week earlier. I’m glad I sought this out, as it shows that AfterShock is a publisher that’s picking up good titles. This has me buzzing in anticipation to see what’s next. Recommended, but for adults only! Overall grade: A

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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