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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Savant. Issue 1.Jim Alexander (Writer), Will Pickering (Art), Fin Cramb (Colours), Jim Campbell (Lettering) Planet Jimbot (2013)

Chief Wizard Update 03.02.217: Savant has been scheduled to appear in Dark Horse Presents 32-37 March to August 2017.  Dark Horse Presents is the flagship anthology book for Dark Horse Comics and the publishers have always been very particular about how to use the room in the book. It is a tremendous compliment to and recognition of the great work done by the creative team on Savant that they are getting to be included in the anthology. A very large number of new readers will have the pleasure of reading Savant. The team at Planet Jimbot make great comics, it is wonderful to see them getting the opportunity to present their work to a significant worldwide audience.

 First-rate, thoughtful and adventurous science fiction, Savant has a great idea, a well thought out set up which combine to kick the story off in an intriguing and engaging way. The story opens a dive into action before starting off on the main narrative, the pursuit of a war criminal on the planet Hubris. The small group of soldiers and Savant head on their mission across a ravaged planet and find that the trouble is far greater than they could have expected.
Jim Alexander is using a very familiar story framework, the desperate venture by a small, ill assorted, group heading into hostile territory who discover that their worst fears were insignificant compared to the true depth of the threat they face. The pleasure lies in how skillfully he uses this framework to bring his ideas to life and how well he uses the storytelling potential of the framework. Savant, the wild card in the group, has an unusual talent which Jim Alexander neatly reveals at a point where the story logic transforms what could have been an info dump into an necessary explanation for previous events. Savant is the hinge that turns the framework in a interesting direction without compromising it, she  puts the heart into the adventure that draws the reader in and offers the possibility of the happily unexpected.
Jim Alexander has taken a welcome risk in the story, the threat, when it emerges its total, there is no compromise possible and the odds are satisfactorily stacked against the team. To an extent this drains tension from a story as there is no room for escalation, it is already at 11, Jim Alexander is going to have to find a credible way to introduce tension back into the story that rises above the drawn out slaughter of the team. There are simply not enough of them to support a multi-issue story that would be worth reading. Given the the range of ideas already on display I have considerable hopes that a intriguing route lies ahead.
The art by Will Pickering is very good, the cast are well developed, they inhabit their context well, the body language is strong and the faces expressive. Will Pickering has a lovely range, intimate conversations, action, big & small and movement are all comfortable, the ideas are brought to life. At the same time I have a very strong preference for harder edged, more detailed art in science fiction. The greater the weight of the context, the more the story ideas can draw in the reader.
The colours by Fin Cramb have a significant challenge to survive, at one point Savant says "Colour is the language of the universe", this is a  provocative thing to say in a medium where colouring is essential yet should be not attention seeking. The muted low key colours used are effective, they have a melancholy undertone which is exactly what Savant should have. The contrast with the colours of the enemy is strong and effective.
Any first issue has a difficult task, balancing story set up with enough forward momentum to draw in and involve the reader. Savant does it very well, a very engaging and enjoyable read, it leaves the reader happily wondering what will be next.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent to me by Jim Alexander. Contact Planet Jimbot directly at: planetjimbot@gmail.com

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