(Spoiler Alert: I wish I had bought She-Hulk #3 instead)
At Matt’s Cavalcade today, the staff told me my box lay empty, so I took the opportunity to give two all new comics a try, picking up the Image title Shutter and Marvel’s strange All-New Doop #1. After reading them both, and spending way too much time thinking about them on a walk this evening, I’m confident that I won’t be reading either again, but for very different reasons with Shutter being a title I could definitely see myself reading as a trade way down the line once I finally get around to finishing Unwritten and many other titles.
Shutter is a book that I wouldn’t normally buy. The cover features the protagonist, Kate Kristopher, holding a camera in the middle of an urban street as a menagerie of fantastical beings walk past her, an image that just didn’t strike me as bold or innovative in the way the creators seem to believe it is as titles such as Fables, Hinterkink, and Rat Queen are all titles that have worked in the same sort of fantastical beings in the mundane sandbox. Granted the issue itself presents Shutter as a world wind adventure comic that just so happens to include a bunch of fantastical beings, and perhaps as the series continues it’ll further distinguish itself from those easy comparisons.
Unfortunately that doesn’t happen with this premiere issue as the bit we get about Kate Kristopher does little to make her appear as anything more than a cipher for us to explore the comic’s beautiful world. While her lineage in a long-line of adventurers could prove interesting down the line, issue one doesn’t use that unique origin to do much more than show cool images of Kate and her deceased father exploring throughout her early life. Granted, we are shown that Kate has used her experiences in the past to become a well-known author, but again her cynicism about the most exciting part of life isn’t marked by any nuance, and the revelation that her father has been dead for ten years in the comic’s present is easy to spot a long ways off (After all, it’s a common comics rule that good parents don’t get to survive very long). However, the last panel indicates that perhaps the late Kristopher isn’t the dashing saintly explorer Kate makes him out to be, but I guess I’ll wait for a late night Wikipedia binge a few months from now to figure out what’s what on that.
Easily the best part of this comic is the work done by Leila Del Duca on the visuals. As her collaborator Joe Keatinge notes in the comic’s afterword, Duca has a knack for being able to pull off emotion in characters as well as creating interesting designs. The otherworldly beings of Shutter look in place with the humans of New York City with Duca also integrating the fantastical in the city’s architecture, making for some great-looking establishing shots. Often while reading I’d get through a page and then return to it just to gawk at all the interesting character details she gets in there such as Kate’s friend talking to her via a levitating old timey phone while Kate sits on a subway next to a dapper minotaur, monocle and all. Owen Gieni also deserves a lot of credit for making the characters in this world vibrate with life. His wide palette serves to distinguish the comic’s world from our own with purple ghost ninjas skirting about a fire-breathing copper-colored robot man.
There’s no doubt that both Keatinge and Leila Del Duca have a great stock of imagination and influences to pull from, and I have confidence that this comic will only get better. Unfortunately though, sticking with it until that happens doesn’t jive with a grad student budget when there are so many great books out there.
Bonus: And just a quick world on Peter Milligan and David Lafuente’s All-New Doop #1. I get it, guys and it’s cute. You’re using Doop, a character born of absurdity to remark on the absurdity of the strange events that happen within X-men titles, and I think it’s a premise that could work, but not if the comic is this unfunny. And the fact that significant portions and even dialogue of the comic are directly from Brian Michael Bendis’ Battle Of The Atom miniseries makes me further disinterested in following the title as much of that title was made-up of fan-servicey type dialogue that doesn’t come off as any more interesting or humorous within the context of Doop serving as an unseen observer that breaks through the panels. I didn’t have high hopes for this, and bought it thinking that it might prove surprising in the way that the best things often are. But…nope.