In Review: Artifact One #2

Remi finds another clue about the true origins of her people, as well as a new threat.

The covers: An appropriate pair to tempt your wallet for this second issue. The A is by interior artist Romina Moranelli. Remi is sitting in her secret dwelling, adding to her journal. She looks up at the reader as though she wasn’t expecting an intruder. She’s surrounded by all that she brought with her when she ran from her city: beakers, books, magnifying glasses, and some plants. Respectable surroundings for an explorer. The character looks great and the colors are tops, with things being dark to show she’s in hiding. The B cover is by JP Mavinga & Justice. This has Remi working a tavern, carting the dirty dishes to the back to wash them. She looks at the precariously stacked items nervously as one patron at the bar sips his ale, waiting for the crash. This looks fine, but doesn’t have the protagonist looking as elegant. There’s a lot of space devoted to the bar, such as the foreground. This is an artistic choice, but comes across as a waste of space. Overall grades: A A and B C+

The story: J.T. Krul and Vince Hernandez start this issue some time after the dramatic events of last issue. Remi has found a village to work in as a barmaid, but lives inside a tree far from others so that she may continue on her scientific quest: to discover what the relic her father gave her is made of. She’s been many places before settling here and encountered several new elements, but none have brought her closer to discovering what the relic is. One day at work she overhears an old drunk named Elgrove proclaim that they must have come from a primitive species, they must have evolved. He claims to have seen ancient drawings. The story then follows Remi as she tests shards of the relic and observes a festival from a distance. This gathering has her eventually assisting the old drunk. The action sequence on Pages 13 and 14 shows that Remi is not a mousy relic hunter. She and Elgrove go on a journey where something familiar is found, but it’s not unguarded. I like how Krul and Hernandez have their protagonist always working to find the truth and being slowed by those around her. The use of her journal is a good way to have her reveal her thoughts to the reader and foreshadow what she will do next. The reveal on 18 is great, but it’s masterfully outdone by the final page’s cliffhanger. This reveal will undoubtedly spawn even more questions for Remi. Overall grade: A

The art: Romina Moranelli’s visuals are great. She’s walking an incredibly fine line between fantasy and science fiction with humanoid characters who are slightly different from humans by their faces and markings. The first page has a beautiful panel with Remi showing her love for her father as she acknowledges his teachings with the warmest smile. Pages 2 and 3 is double-paged splash of a map she’s created with four panels atop it to show specific places she’s been. The map looks okay, but seems really empty for someone who is, essentially, a scientist; I expected more details. The scenes in the tavern are good, with it populated with the expected raucous crowd. The visuals on 7 show Remi conducting an experiment with very little narration: Moranelli has to communicate to the reader the test and its results solely with her visuals and is successful in doing so. The exterior of Remi’s dwelling is fantastic — I could look at this exterior all day. The full-paged splash on 10 clearly shows where Remi is in relationship to the festival, but it lacks the details of the tavern, which lessens the impact of the visual. I was disappointed by the outlines of characters and constructions, rather than finely rendered elements. The art improves when Moranelli pulls in closer on the next two pages. The action on 13 and 14 is great, leaving me hopeful that the story will give Moranelli to do more scenes like this. The shadows falling on Remi on 15 are killer. The trek on 16 and 17 is good, with the settings being just enough to communicate a change in locales. The reveal on 18 is good; there’s no explanation for what’s shown, putting the reader solidly in Remi’s point of view. The final page is a full-paged splash revealing some neatly designed characters that obviously mean harm. I’m really interested to see what Moranelli does with them in the next installment. Overall grade: A

The colors: Enrica Eren Angiolini’s colors complete this alien/fantasy world. The bright oranges of Remi’s hair, lips, eyes, and eye shadow have her standing out on every page she appears. When she writes in her journal the text is on a yellow background that resembles parchment. The map is done in tans to age it authentically. The colors on 6 and 7 have some terrific bright work that strengthen the believability of the location. The exterior of Remi’s home has a wonderfully alien violet. The night festival is lit well with glowing yellows. The action sequences have some outstanding greens. My favorite colored panel of the issue is the final one on 15: it’s just perfection. Greens return on the last two pages to make some sounds look as ghastly as those making them. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dez Sienty is responsible for creating journal writing, dialogue, laughter, narration, sounds, and the tease for next issue. Having characters’ dialogue written with lower case letters sets them apart from other comic book characters, enhancing their alien-ness. I’m so happy to see that different fonts are used for the journal and the narration, rather than just relying on the shape or colors of the boxes that contain them. The sounds that end the book are in an inhuman scrawl that match the pair uttering them. Even the tease for next issue stands out, looking emotionless. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Working in secret, Remi finds another clue about the true origins of her people, as well as a new threat. I love that Remi is smart, continuing to search for the truth while keeping herself fairly hidden from others. The final three pages increase the questions she and the reader will have. The visuals are great, wonderfully merging the familiar with the unreal. This book is a gem. Overall grade: A

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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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