Writer: Ben Fisher
Artist: Mike Henderson
Lettered: Adam Markiewicz
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
This entry on Smuggling Spirits is a rare graphic novel review, and an even rarer independent publisher graphic novel review for The Revolution. Hopefully one of many more. Smuggling Spirits is a good way to start this new trend on the blog. Smuggling Spirits is published by Studio-407. Smuggling Spirits will be coming out in hardcover format in March.
Smuggling Spirits is, as some of its ad copy states “Set in a nightmarish vision of the past where deadly monstrosities roam the shadows of Prohibition-Era America, Al Stone is a bootlegger who finds himself on the run when he inadvertently stumbles upon the bloody secret of the creatures’ survival. As the beasts close in to take back what’s theirs, Al and his young ward, Nathan, make their final stand in this blend of horror, drama, action, and suspense.”
Not a particularly gripping plot, on its own, but one of the pleasant surprises of this book is the relationship between Al and his “young ward”. Al is a very capable individual, as most protagonists are, but despite the obvious comparison, this is not a Batman and Robin story.
Al is trying to take care of the kid, to keep him safe, and wishes he would just stay in the [email protected]#$ car. Al has a certain, psychological blind spot, and despite his rough manner, Nathan forms a bond with him, and can’t help but follow and try to help, against Al’s wishes. The conflict keeps the story moving, and provides the framework that the characters work in, but make no mistake, the real story is the relationship between those two.
And that is what makes this book stand out for me. Ben Fisher’s writing gives depth and soul to what could have easily been another clever adventure story with neat monsters and guns blazing.
His words and ideas are then drawn, in black and white (this is an independent press) by Mike Henderson, in clear, strong lines that allow the art to tell the story as well. The art allows the story to be told without captions or descriptive exposition. Henderson’s art succeeds in making many of the monster encounters as intense and dramatic as they should be.
Fisher succeeds also, in giving a satisfying and substantial ending to the story. Not every writer, indie or mainstream, can always pull that off. The only actual complaint I had was that some of the profanity felt forced.
Make no mistake. This is a black and white period piece comic with monsters thrown in. There are no superheroes, there is no “eye candy” or other fan service, and the protagonists kill things and swear. If you only read color, mainstream comics, this will not be for you.
I hope that you can appreciate that this underneath the black and white, bootlegging monster filled world of Smuggling Spirits is a story that will engage you and make you feel something. This is great work from the “indie scene” and the creators involved in this comic make the most with what they have. If you are willing to try something new, and anything in this review piqued your interest, this book is certainly recommended.