Saturday, April 11, 2015

Summons Review

Summons A Supernatural Fight Of Good VS. Evil

I’ve been super busy with life and everything that comes along with it, but I have also been on my game with the reviews.  So far for the last month or so I have put up something at least once a week and I hope to continue my trend.  I recently went back over my body of work and noticed that I was leaning heavy towards sci fi stuff from more known companies and thought maybe it would be a good idea to revisit something different and from the more indie labels.  I decide to do a review on Summons because I’m completely blown away by this books art as well as the general premise of the story.

Summons is; written, penciled, and lettered by Chris L. Williams, inked by Jake Isenberg, and colored by both Danielle Alexis St. Pierre (cover) and Victor Bartlett (Interior) and I have to hand it to them because I feel like this art is spectacular.  The cover features two of the main characters, Kristine Helios and the last agent of a group known as the M.E.G.A.S (mystic event gatherer and surveyor).  I understand that that may not mean much now but as I get into the review know that it will be clarified, just keep in mind that both characters are seriously BA and the cover features Kristine kneeling down with a dagger in her hand and some dragon/dog looking monsters behind her with the MEGAS guy behind her.  The MEGAS agent looks almost like Deadpool meets Emperor Palpatine, and I only say that because of his red and blue mask with blue and red trimmed cloak.  Both characters have glowing eyes and fierce looks to them that are only accentuated by the monsters around Kristine.  I made it the featured image on the left over here so you can get a real feel for what I'm describing.

The book begins with a four page panel that starts at Kristine’s eyes and pulls further out to reveal her standing in a half circle of troll looking monsters.  Again I have to say, the art is on point in every way, Kristine’s eyes are fierce like she is angry and ready to take care of business.  She provides some commentary about what it was like before the real world revealed itself but overall the first page is a simple but BA introduction to Kristine and her current struggles as someone that knows about and deals with supernatural things.  Page two is a continuance of the first page but it’s a five panel ass kicking that show cases Kristine’s abilities and ends on the next page with a killer profile of her holding a monsters head.  I enjoy the fight scene and the profile of Kristine but as a writer I really enjoy the way they put the exposition in as Kristine’s thoughts and explanations of the monsters.  I have mentioned before in previous reviews that one of my pet peeves is being thrown into a complicated world with complicated back stories and just being expected to know what is going on.  Williams gives a great explanation of what the creatures are and why their stalking her down.  The exposition is done well and sets up the premise of the book, Kristine is meant to get back the book of Summons.  The explanation is enough to get a good taste as to what she is facing and what she is seeking out but it doesn't over share and leaves something for us to discover as the book goes on.  The exposition continues with the profile page and Kristine explains her “edge” when dealing with these creatures called Monstrum.  Along with her dagger made for spear of destiny parts she has a “death rapport” that links her thoughts with the Monstrum she kills.  The death rapport doesn't yield anything good so Kristine is forced to summons her MEGAS buddy and we are lead to the next page where he is front and center but flanked by four panels of Kristine and one close up of his masked face.  I simply can’t say enough about the art, the MEGAS dude looks formidable and BA as the two of them chat about what transpired.  The exposition continues alongside an explanation of the MEGAS and what their all about.  Her new MEGAS buddy was “the 5th, sans a blonde Bruce Willis and half naked Milla Jovovich” and I have to say that I love the 5th Element reference.

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So within the first four pages we are introduced to the two main characters, shown a nice fight sequence, and given a reasonable amount of exposition so we understand what is going on in Kristine’s world.  For me personally this book does what I expect from anything that has a complex world building around the reader; I need to know something, but not everything, I need to get a feel for the characters and their abilities, but not be overwhelmed by it.  Williams has already drawn me in and I’m hardly four pages into the read.  I definitely feel that the art helps me get drawn in but the story line has me as well.  The search for the book of Summons, the history of the MEGAS, and what sort of evil they face are all inventive and have me hooked.  The main characters are cool and heroic but not of the super hero ilk, more of the Constantine type, as is the world that is being set up.

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After the beginning and the character introduction there is a short synopsis of how Williams describes his story.  I don’t normally quote things but I feel like his words are fairly poetic, and as a writer I enjoy these lines.

“Nothing meek shall inherit the Earth.  Humans are simply spectators.  Glorified animals caged by their own perception.  The real struggle, the real war… is fought by far greater beings.  They decide our fate, our purpose.  Everything depends on them.  Always has.  This is their story.  Their struggle.  And it is only the beginning.”

I know, epic... Right?  I really dig the way this feels and rolls off my tongue as I mouth it to myself.  After the first few pages and the realization of the mission and the book of summons this statement only beefs up the hype of the book and totally riles me up.

I have already been hooked with the art and the story of the first few pages but as I turn to the next page I see a “Chapter 1 Rude Awakening” and realize that the story has hardly started.  Kristine is clearly a late teen early twenty something, judging from the art, but as the story begins Williams reveals her true age while she narrates how awful school is.  I’m a man in my thirty’s but her clear contempt for school rings a bell with me, as does the three page narrative of Kristine thought bubbling her worries about college while trying to ignore the “self-absorbed, vapid, pima-donnas.”  I love this part because I have more than a few bad memories of self-absorbed A-holes in high school, as many comic book fans probably do, and Williams not only captures the essence of what many people deal with he does it while showing that Kristine is no push over.  Kristine has proven to be BA, but now we get a glimpse of her as a normal person dealing with normal people problems as well when she blows up at the girls talking trash.

Williams continues with Kristine making her way to the principal’s office when she stumbles upon the big football star that just happens to be her good buddy from childhood.  The banter between the two of them is natural, but flirty, and revealing of the true nature of their friendship.  Through dialog Williams shows us the nature of the relationship while also possibly foreshadowing some key plot points.  Football star Jared Lee reveals that his cousin has just died and was possibly into some shady things, which at first doesn’t sound very revealing but the art work really puts it into perspective with a close up of Jared’s face but behind him is a cloaked guy getting attacked by a hand that looks awfully menacing, like some of the monstrum from the beginning.

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Williams shifts the book to three shadowy figures arguing about when to strike at Kristine and the mortal world but he leaves the dialog open until the next page when I turned and saw the up close of three shadowy monsters.  They argue when to strike and the shot caller declares that they wait until they find the book.  The art of the monsters is something to behold because their scary and mean as hell, with some of the best coloring I have ever seen.  The crew really out do themselves on this page, truly amazing art work.

The next seven pages are Kristine at home getting ready for bed when a monster attacks her by jumping through her window.  At this point we know that she doesn’t die and with the help of the MEGAS becomes pretty BA and this revelation comes to fruition when the MEGAS shows up to dispatch the Monstrum.  Again the art work is fantastic with the MEGAS and the monster fighting, my favorite being the first panel with MEGAS standing over the monster.  The panel is about three fourths of the MEGAS standing in front of a head shot of the monster.  The panel is colorful and gives a really nice profile of the MEGAS while still showing a scary version of the mostrum’s head up close.  The Monstrum has some really detailed features, including nasty teeth and a long gross tongue, everything a true monster should have.  As the MEGAS kills off the monster he screams “all hail Zombinos,” which is a nice piece of foreshadowing because I wonder if one of the shadowy monsters are Zombino or if he is going to be someone higher up the monster chain, but either way I’m excited to see Kristine and the MEGAS do their thing and kill them all.

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MEGAS stops to holds a passed out Kristine and apologizes for his barging into her room to save her and explains the MEGAS formation.  Within the explanation of the MEGAS is also the explanation of how the book of Summons came about, as well as who Kristine is.  Kristine is somehow an intermediate between the forces of good or evil and the book.  MEGAS explains she is the newest of a long line of ancestors that held her powers and between him, her and another unknown person called “the warrior born” they have the potential to save the world.  The MEGAS explains that both her and the warrior born have the potential to be swayed to the bad side so it’s imperative that they start their quest to save the world and find the warrior born.

I was expecting this to be the end of the book but I turned to find one last page of a man running in the moonlight.  The final page is six panels of this man and a narrative of how he finally understood the MEGAS and the fight he was about to enter into.  He knew, all of a sudden, that he is essential to the never ending fight as well as the fact that they needed to get to the book of Summons.

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I hate to keep gushing over the art, but seriously, it’s good.  All of the characters have a unique feel to them, no two are even remotely similar, except when supposed to be, and even then are done very different.  The Monstrum are the closest thing to similar in the book and their very different in their own ways.  The style of the art is something between cartoon and realistic and the colors are bright and popping.  Williams doesn’t slack on the story either, he clearly has an extensive world he is building but doesn’t bombard us with too much, he gives us exposition when needed and slides explanations into dialog to give it a natural feel.  I like the story and clearly the artwork but I have already read issue two and can’t wait for issue three.  This is the kind of indie book that makes me shake my head at the big two and ask them why they can’t be this BA.  Williams, Isenberg, Bartlett, St. Pierre; you guys deserve a firm handshake, a pat on the back, and more than anything you deserve to sell out of this book.

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