The covers: A trio of very different covers for you to seek out. The A cover is by Mike Krome and Ula Mos. This is the only cover that was available at my local comic book store. This is a very good cover that certainly got my attention when I saw it: a very attractive woman dressed in some Native American garb stands in profile with a crow on her shoulder. It’s an incredible looking image that’s colored equally well. A solid job. Marat Mychaels and Stephen Schaffer do the B cover which has the title character looking absolutely evil, as he’s colored almost completely in red and is surrounded by cow skulls in a forbidding desert. His hands are also fairly frightening. Also a good job. The C is by Pasquale Qualano, Devegear, and Ylenia Di Napoli. The cover that’s shown on the inside of this issue is a blonde woman in a loosely fitting parka being pursued by several wolves on a snowy night. It’s really good, though this is a minor character who doesn’t face off against these creatures, nor in these clothes. I found another cover by the same team showing the same woman in the same terrible situation, but wearing a small purple bikini. This is closer to what actually happens within. Overall grades: A A, B B-, C A, and Bikini C A
The story: Written by Erica J. Heflin, from a story by Joe Brusha, “The Awakening” beings with Sela Mathers coming across a tapestry on a reservation that has some strange imagery. She asks a man to tell her its story who says, “Armor your soul well…for the things that grow in the darkness are quenched not by water, but by blood.” The scene then transitions to Colby having a night terror and her boyfriend waking her. She admits to not having a nightmare like that since she was a child, but she has to let it go because she and her boyfriend are meeting their friends on Dorian Island. Another shift in location occurs, presenting readers with two more characters who encounter something, and then the story shifts to the island where the six characters meet up. This is like the start of a horror film as the young people gather at the isolated home for a weekend of fun. However something has come back. On Page 14 this entity is revealed and it quickly begins to flex it magical muscles to gain strength. Not much happens but an “awakening” in this issue, and there’s nothing from the A or B cover that occurs. This is an okay beginning, though I don’t know every characters’ name or the evil force’s backstory. Overall grade: B-
The art: The art goes from hot to cold. Sean Hill’s art starts strong as Sela sees the tapestry, but on Page 4 the book looks as if someone else had drawn it. On 6 and 7 things get better, but drop again once the action moves to the island. The Colby on Pages 4 and 5 looks nothing like the Colby on Pages 8 – 11. Things get better with Teresa’s scene on 12, as she’s got some really fantastic faces for what she’s doing, as does the officer she’s speaking with. The introduction of the villain on 14 is pretty good, but he becomes fairly emaciated on 15. The small panels on the double-paged spread of 16 and 17 just don’t look good. The larger art on this page is murky due to the dark coloring. The art is not helping my love of this book. Hill knows what angles are needed to tell this tale, but is not executing them well, nor is he consistent with his characters’ faces. Overall grade: C-
The colors: When the story is set in the daylight, panels and pages look great. Omi Remalante, Jr., has some really good coloring, especially on the opening page. He also puts some good folds in Colby’s bedsheets. This is pretty impressive. Things look even better on Pages 6 and 7 with an outstanding sky and details in the trees. The skin tones on the main character are also really well done, such as in the final panel on 6 and all of 7. This is quality work. The sunset turns the heavens violet and rose and they look great. Great way to show the transition of time. Things drop when the title character appears. It’s just too murky. Take a look at the bottom of 15; granted, the art’s not great, but the dark colors are really obscuring what’s going on. The coloring is still too dark on 16 and 17; lightening up the background would have helped. There’s also some odd coloring on the last page. I can’t tell if the red splotching behind the character was part of the artwork or was inserted by Remalante, Jr., to mix up the colors. This starts well, but goes too dark. Overall grade: C
The letters: Dialogue, narration, sounds, and villain speak are created by Jim Campell. I liked the unique font for the villain, which is a terrific way to show how different he is from all the other characters. Overall grade: A
The final line: An okay story with average to below-average visuals won’t have me returning for other issues. Overall grade: C
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two 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.