In Review: Brilliant Trash #1

I have no clue what's going on, but I want more.

The covers: Four covers to seek, online if Lady Lastword allows you. The A cover is by Mike Norton and Addison Duke. This is a close-up of said Lady, with her holding a syringe close to her face. She’s squeezing the injector and a squirt of luminescent yellow accompanied by some red droplets is expelled. This is an odd looking fluid, but it matches the odd masked image of this book’s powerful star. The imagery is easy to understand, but nothing is explained to the reader. This is a good hook. The B is by interior artist Priscilla Petraites and Marco Lesko. Writer Kennedy Avis is at the bottom center in orange, her arms spread wide showing track lines on her arms. The cover is bisected above her, with Lady Lastword on the right on an Asian background, while on the left is a man with a blazing white fist, a child who looks older than he is, and writer Capricorn Halle. I love the combination of elements and the coloring makes this look very noir. This was the cover I had to purchase. There are also two  limited covers. Both feature the same artwork by Mike Rooth which is an EC Comics inspired frontpiece of Lady Lastword lying in bed, her mouth open in a drug induced stupor, her hand holding one of the bars in the bed’s headpost as she feels the effects of the drug, that looks suspiciously like heroin, on the nightstand next to her. The first cover, the “Color” cover, is available at Comic Collateral, while the “Virgin” version of the cover is available at Hiphopf Comics, which features the artwork with no text. Both are recommended. Overall grades: A A, B A, Comic Collateral A+, and Hiphopf Comics A+

The story: From a story concocted by Tim Seeley and Steve Seeley, with the first writing, “Icarus Burns” begins with the Internet displaying a live broadcast of Lady Lastword making a plea that she wants of all humanity to succeed, but she realizes that the world won’t understand unless things are simpler. “Throughout history, people have died for you. They died to save you. Flaming, spiraling down into the sea like Icarus. But you honored them by killing them.” She walks outside her enclosure to reveal she’s near the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. “Because of what I am now, I can talk to you as I saw fit. Warn you away. So hard to think. So many thoughts.” A rifle shot grazes her forehead and the camera moves to show several armed men with weapons trained on her. She says, “I’m dying to save you. Please. See what I saw.” Her forehead glows. “See a world where brilliant trash burns and falls from the sky.” The light coming from her head overwhelms the picture. “See the light.” The picture goes dead and a section of Jerusalem disappears in a fiery blast. The comments online slight what they’ve seen. The story then moves to a coffee shop where Capricorn Halle encounters Kennedy Avis. Their conversation moves toward Lady Lastword before the story moves to someone who fights another with equally impressive abilities. How the coffee talk involves the fighting is unrevealed, as is what happens to one of the women. This issue throws the reader into a world without explaining anything and that’s a plus and a con. I love being immersed in a new environment, forcing me to read the story closely, but if I can’t follow the story it leaves me wondering if I should continue. The story comes across as a dystopian Twin Peaks. I couldn’t tell you what’s occurring, but I want to see more before I can decide whether I truly like this or not. It is immensely readable. Overall grade: B-

The art: This I can decide upon quickly: the art by Priscilla Petraites is good. The first three pages are primarily composed of Lady Lastword addressing the camera. She’s not in one stagnate pose of her mask looking into the lens, but slight movements in the character’s head makes her words come to life. When she moves outside, the setting is immediately identifiable, showing Petraites to be a capable artist. Capricorn and Kennedy in the shop are well done, with the point of view moving around the pair to show how they react to one another as well as show off the surroundings and others in it. There’s a strong action sequence on Pages 10 – 12, with the borders between panels disappearing on the final page, but the flow of the action neatly continuing. The visuals in the third and fourth panels on 15 give the reader information without any help from text; again showing the abilities of Petraites. There’s a shocking reaction to an action on 19 which is graphic without being grotesque, which I though was a fine line to walk. The last panel on 21 features an unnecessary computer blur to emphasize speed. It may have done by Petraites or the colorist; whoever is responsible for it, it shouldn’t have happened — the composition of the panel effectively communicates to the reader the speed of the vehicle, while the blur just shows off a bad computer effect. The last panel of the issue is a strong reason I’ll be returning next month, with these individuals looking extremely interesting, especially the second person on the left. I want to see what Petraites will have these characters do. Overall grade: A

The colors: Marco Lesko’s coloring is also really good on this book. The opening pages have bright colors, but are just subdued enough to connote an image on the Internet. A quick panel that closes out Page 4 has a beautiful blue sky. The location where the women meet has a wonderfully sickly green, implying the state of modern humanity. When the action sequences kick into gear, strong yellows and oranges come into play and they are bright and excellently mirror the element in use. The color of an individual’s eyes on 15 communicates to the reader, without text, that something unusual is occurring. My favorite panel of the book can be found in the top panel on 19, with a great orange and slight rust against a character’s flesh, with the background colors making things organic and creepy. Overall grade: A+

The letters: There is a huge number of texts in this book, showing Marshall Dillon doing more work than most artists do on other titles. First are all the texts shown on the Internet pages, from headlines to tweets. Dillon also does dialogue, sounds, scene settings, quiet acknowledgements of shock, signage, a quote, and the tease for next issue. The sounds are exactly what the action scenes needed to accentuate the violence, with the sound in the third panel on 18 making me twinge each time I see it. The scene settings are terrific: they are completely unlike anything I’ve seen in other books and make the transitions exciting. Dillon is also doing great work. Overall grade: A+

The final line: I have no clue what’s going on, but I want more. Reading this book is like falling down a rabbit hole where you try to make sense of something and when you’re close to understanding something new confronts you and you have to start over. The visuals are great in every way, but I wish I knew what the heck was happening. That said, I’m solidly on board for the next issue. 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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