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Thursday, June 11, 2015

SinEater 1. JoJo King (Writer), Chase Dunham (Artist), Ken Reynolds (Cover Design) Insane Comics ( May 2015)

A very engaging and enjoyable comic that packs a quiet and very considerable punch. Cassandra is a sin-eater, as the opening vividly shows both her work and the burden it imposes. A very nasty incident at the morgue where she lives leads to a sudden need to exit her village, which becomes significantly more urgent and problematical at the same time.
In a very short space, 28 pages, JoJo King manages to present four significant set ups for the story and none of them trip up over each other or feel cramped or rushed. Cassandra is introduced with a great sequence and then given a chance to introduce herself, this set up is done very naturally with a lot of information being delivered in a natural way with a great balance between showing and telling. A villain is introduced in another deeply effective set up, one of the very welcome aspects to the comic is how a cliché is cleverly used, High Priest Jacob is a villain, however he is a wonderfully dangerous villain. Using a  religious leader as the bad guy is often fatally obvious, sanctity is a great cloak for horrifying selfishness and greed, what JoJo King has done is give Jacob a very dangerous edge. Jacob is not firebrand who rouses the passions of his congregation, much more troubling he gives them permission to act savagely. He does not tell them what to do, he praises them for knowing what to do and doing it, a much subtler, toxic and durable way to hold power.
The incident at the morgue is great, it is not a surprise, it is really well done and the role of sexual violence actually has a direct relevant to the story mechanics. I still wish that JoJo King had found a different route to the same end. This incident is the third set up which leads naturally to the fourth and final set up where the threads of the story are very neatly crossed and the the reader is left happily wondering where the story will move to next.
The cast are vivid and forceful, Cassandra is vulnerable, confident, capable and confused, she is a great lead character and Jacob, who in the very short space given to him, imposes himself very firmly on the story as a heavyweight, I look forward to seeing him flex his muscles and seeing how Cassandra responds and starts to flex her own muscles in turn. The supporting cast are also strong, they demand the readers attention because they deserve it, none feel like they are just taking up space.
Chase Dunham's black and white art is a joy. It is confident and distinctive, the lines are spare and expressive, the action is quietly intense without every being aggressive. Given the content the art has a lot of room to be filled with brutal detail, Chase Dunham instead gives the cast prominence over the blood. This brings the story much more forward as the cast are allowed to drive the action rather than being lost in it. Still when action is required it is delivered, Chase Dunham has a wonderful grasp of movement that gives the moments depth and force.
Sin Eater 1 is a confident, thoughtful and engaging comic from very talented creators, a pleasure.
Chief Wizard Note: This is a review copy very kindly sent to me by JoJo King. To buy it, and you should treat yourself, go to  https://www.facebook.com/InsaneComicsDotCom

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