In Review: Jirni #1

The epic visuals of this book illustrate an average story, which is a shame.

The covers: Six covers to quest for if you’re going to be a completest. The A cover is by V. Ken Marion with colors by Peter Steigerwald. It features the title character standing upon a very craggy rock with her cape billowing out behind her like Spawn. She’s pretty small, with most of the image devoted to the swirling orange clouds behind her. The coloring stands out more than illustration. Paolo Pantalena and Ross Campbell have created the B cover which is what I used to accompany this review. It is a beautiful picture of Ara decked out in full pirate gear. How could anyone not like this? The next is the C and it’s by Marion and Juan Fernandez. With the backdrop of a flames and smoke from the chaos she’s created, Ara stands ready with her blade to take out her next opponent. This is one fierce cover! The D is by Elizabeth Torque. Ara looks haughty as she’s leaning on a long spear, while behind her is the image of a mighty tiger. This is a very different artistic look from the rest of the covers, not being so ornate, but it’s very successful in Ara’s emotions and the wonderful colors. I really like this. The E is an Islander Comics Exclusive by Paolo Pantalena and Steigerwald. It’s limited to only 100 copies and has the heroine very close up, holding her sword at the readers. This is a very lush drawing with the purples being very heavy. Doing so, Steigerwald makes this look regal. The final cover, the F, is by the same duo, but is only available through Transitive Comics. It, too, is limited to 100 comics and features the same illustration as the E with a different background and coloring. Equally good. Overall grades: A B-, B A+, C A, D A, E A, F A

The story: Ara is still journeying with Boro and his band of pirates, and assists them as them they try to make their way through a violent storm on the seas. Once they’ve cleared the tempest, the pair have a conversation about Ara’s dislike of sea which Boro has picked up on by the way she gazes to the horizon “as if you cannot wait to get off this vessel.” Their back and forth is interrupted by Boro’s destination, the Black Rock. It is a towering pillar of natural stone that overwhelms the ship, looking as if it’s matching the Empire State Building in stature. It is here that J.T. Krul’s story takes place. The reason for the group’s stopping makes logical sense and something is quickly established that will obviously be a source of conflict. It rears its head on Page 15 and then some action occurs. However, why the conflict has occurred is so telegraphed it was unsurprising. How the problem is resolved is even simpler. It makes sense, but one can predict everything about this issue from 15 on. It’s not bad, just blasé. I did like the natives living on Black Rock, but they enter and exit so quickly, they’re barely touched upon. I was disappointed in this story. Overall grade: C-

The art: This is the highlight of the book and why readers might want to pick this up. Sumptuous is too meager a word to describe what’s on every page. The illustrations are penciled by V. Ken Marion and digitally inked by Mark Roslan. The first panel alerts readers that they’re in for a visual treat with this issue by starting out with the pirates’ ship buckling in a downpour. The design of the ship is wonderful and the waves whipping around it are impressive. The next three panels on the page show the crew in a distant shot and two close-ups trying to save their vessel. The final panel is a close-up of a woman’s hands pulling some rope, and with the turn of the page a full paged splash of Ara appears and she is magnificent. This visual is what every hero introduction should look like. Boro is then shown trying to steer the ship as he’s commenting on the heroine’s performance. He has a very dashing face, as every pirate leader should. When the two are in the same panel on Page 5 it’s fantastic; there’s such a strong sense of warmth between them. The appearance of the Black Rock is jaw dropping, as intended, and the natives that live on this rock have got a completely unique look. I was sad the story didn’t allow more focus on them, they were so visually interesting. The action sequences are quick and strong and Page 20 ends the book with a perfect visual punch. Marion and Roslan are boarding on artist godhood with this book’s look. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: I was completely tricked by Juan Fernandez’s coloring on the first page. Things are pretty dimly colored, it is a heavy thunderstorm, so there shouldn’t be much colors, but I was expecting something to pop more than the scene setting identification and Ara’s narration. On Page 2 I realized I had been played like a fiddle, because Ara’s first appearance has colors explode during the deluge. Her skin is amazing and her armor beautiful. When the storm has ended and the sun rises, the colors of the sky and sea are the stuff of travel agents’ dreams — Heck, I would love to be on that calm ocean due to the colors! The orange background clouds are the perfect way to highlight the violets on Ara. She stands out on every panel she’s in because of the colors. I wonder if there’s any room next to Marion and Roslan’s thrones for Fernandez? Overall grade: A+  

The letters: Josh Reed is also doing some sensational work on this book. I love when special fonts are created for aspects of a book, such as scene settings and narration, and Reed has created two spectacular ones for this book that appear on the first page. He also creates dialogue and sounds on this book, with the latter having a creepy creation for the smallest denizens of the rock. Reed is also aces. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The epic visuals of this book illustrate an average story, which is a shame. I’m going to continue to follow this five issue series in the hopes that what occurred in this issue is leading to something big, but I’ve got to have a story that is strong as the visuals. Overall grade: B

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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