In Review: Jirni #2

It seems as though the visuals take precedence over the story, and it shouldn't.

The covers: There are five variations in covers for you to quest for. The A is by interior artist V. Ken Marion and interior colorist Juan Fernandez. It features Ara holding a gigantic sword, looking at the reader — daring them to make the first move. She’s wearing golden armor emblazoned with jewels. In the lower right is the pirate captain Boro, his full figure shown. In the lower right is his ship that’s she journeying on. She looks fantastic and the coloring is incredible. The image I’m using in this review is much more violet than the actual cover. I’m not too keen on Boro on this cover because he looks so rigid. The B cover is by Jordan Gunderson and Brett Smith. This is a stunning vision of Ara making her way through a rocky desert wasteland, complete with skull in the foreground. The illustration is outstanding and the coloring perfection. Absolutely beautiful! Mirka Andolfo is responsible for the C which has Ara holding her sword above her head as if offering it to the reader. It’s a night scene and she looks great and so does the coloring. Really cool! The D is by V. Ken Marion and Ross Campbell. It’s a Dragon Con Exclusive, limited to 200 copies. The series’ heroine is holding a shield high to protect herself from the flame a dragon is spewing upon her. This is a very strong image that looks spectacular. The final cover is an exclusive Sketch cover sold at the Long Beach Comic Con. This is perfect for autographs or a sketch from your favorite artist if you’re lucky enough. Overall grades: A B+, B A+, C A-, D A, and Sketch B

The story: This second chapter titled “Out to Sea” starts ominously as two crew members are discussing Boro and Ara, with one warning a mate named Horis he should be careful because “Ara scratches you — There might be nothing left afterward.” Could this mean mutiny is in the air? The scene then shifts to the captain’s cabin where the two leads are having a meal. Ara keeps calling Boro a pirate, which he takes offense to. He begins to tell her of his past and J.T. Krul’s story then goes into flashback mode for each character. It was sort of interesting to see where each began, but I wasn’t really too taken by either backstory; though Page 7 is pretty neat. Things rapidly improve when a group comes aboard on Page 14. This introduces the antagonists for the issue and they’re pretty spectacular. Characters like these inevitably populate any fantasy story set on the high seas, so it was bound to happen. What is surprising is the characters’ design and how they are battled. This was an excellent sequence, but it’s only the last seven pages of the issue. The backstories seem to be milked to show off the art, rather than move the plot forward. I would rather have an outstanding story with outstanding art, rather than one elongated for visual purposes. This issue’s story was better than last issue’s, but still could have been better. Overall grade: B

The art: There is no faulting the pencils of V. Ken Marion and the digital inks of Mark Roslan. The opening panel is a stunner, with the small ship making its way across a quiet sea with spectacular clouds and two worlds dwarfing all. The details on Horis’ face are great, with each line telling an untold story in this sailor’s past. The second page is a full splash of the captain’s quarters featuring Boro and Ara eating. The details on the wooden setting and the curtains are wowsers, with Ara’s armor being amazing. Boro looks like a character out of a Rob Liefeld comic; I’m a fan of his art, so this looks great to me, but each time he appeared all I could think was “Liefeld!” His flashback sequence is much longer than that of Ara’s and it’s also more dramatic. I like how his early tragic life lead him to a life lived on the edge before his time on the sea. 7 is a fantastic page and I could feel the anger and the heat radiating off the page. Ana’s backstory isn’t as lavish as Boro’s, but it does look good, especially with the number of people that populate those pages. 14 is the showstopper of the issue as the first individual comes aboard. Just when I think I’ve seen it all for this type of individual, Marion puts a new spin on it, with some really cool design work done on the back of the character. The action that occurs is really intense, showing more arrivals and the bloody battle. It’s graphic, but absolutely appropriate for what transpires. Just excellent in every way on every page. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The coloring on this book by Juan Fernandez is jaw droppingly beautiful. The first panel of the first page uses a perfect blend of violet, blue, orange, and red to create a fanciful sea setting. The violet exterior of the ship changes dramatically on the second page as wood and warm colors take over. This setting has the perfect coloring to exploit Ara’s skin and armor. Boro’s flashback sequence is spectacular: the reds, yellows, and oranges are outstanding. Greens and emeralds explode beginning on 14 and they are terrific. Starting on 16 the background changes to oranges and yellows to highlight the battles. Very nice. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Josh Reed creates dialogue, narration, scene settings, a yell, a SKRREEEE!!!, several sounds, and the “To Be Continued.” The sounds were my favorites. Half the fun of comic books is reading the sounds aloud and they provide so much punch to what’s going on. I’m glad that Reed was allowed to interject sounds into the battle. Overall grade: A+

The final line: An improvement over last issue, but the story could be better. The art is superb, as are the colors and letters. It seems as though the visuals take precedence over the story, and it shouldn’t. 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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