RevolveR, the web comix anthology of Salgood Sam

Feb 20, 2008

Read About Comics reviews Therefore Repent!

Got a couple reviews this week and a mention in a pod cast, going to stick to this, the best by Greg McElhatton for the clippings pile here. I've had my art compared to Farel Dalrymple's before, i always take it as a complement, he's an excellent artist...

It's very strange when you're reading a graphic novel and feel like it was formed by an entirely different set of creators. In some ways it's a little unfair to do so to the actual creators, almost like you aren't giving them their fair credit. None the less, if you'd asked me who'd created Therefore Repent!, I'd have probably guessed Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple (who coincidentally really are collaborators on Marvel's Omega the Unknown revival). I'd like to assure Jim Monroe and Salgood Sam, however, that such a comparison really isn't a bad thing at all.

The Rapture came, and billions of people rose up into the sky to go to Heaven. Now, the rest of the world is in chaos, some claiming this to be a time of tribulation with a second chance at salvation eminent, others just trying to survive as best they can. With an army of angels trying to purge the world of survivors, and strange powers manifesting left and right, can Mummy and Raven find a way to just live in peace?

Monroe's story reminded me a lot of Lethem's early novels, with its fantastical events and ever-shifting status quo being presented almost matter-of-factly to the reader. This isn't the sort of story where characters spend half their time continually gawking at their situation, but instead just move on as if it's part of their lives these days--which of course it is. The end result is that as a reader, I never felt like I was being condescended or talked down to, and picked up the sensation that this was somehow a very real world that I was getting a glimpse into. The setup for Therefore Repent! is clever, in both how Munroe imagines what the remaining infrastructure would look like, but more so in the changes in humanity. This is the sort of setting I could easily see sustaining a long series of stories if Munroe chose, dipping into different locations and lives all over the globe. As it is, I feel like there's still so much more that could be told about the book's existing cast. There's a lot in their past left nebulous, and it's the arrival of Mummy and Raven into a neighborhood of Chicago that not only asks questions of all the supporting cast but of them as well. Likewise, some parts of the story itself are never really explained; the actions of some characters are left blank, which can be frustrating to anyone who is expecting everything to be explained or wrapped up neatly.

The art in Therefore Repent! is a lush, thick-inked creation. I really love the way that Sam illustrates an urban sprawl, with its streets and buildings and alleyways. It's a wonderfully full art style, and in some ways I think it's more effective here as pure black and white versus the red-tinged art of Sea of Red. Here, the darker color against a white background carries a stronger visual weight, and that's especially important when Sam draws the fantastical elements of Therefore Repent!. Because they're so different, they need to really stand out and pop off the page at the reader, and that's exactly what happens. My only one complaint is that some of the more action-oriented scenes came off as a little muddled and hard to follow--I can't help but feel that they don't really play to Sam's strengths as an artist. Fortunately, they're a very small part of the greater whole. I do wonder if the smaller dimensions of the book, which normally works well in compacting Sam's art, somehow worked against him there.

Therefore Repent! was a nice surprise for me as a reader--a book full of enough ideas to fill up an entire series, and with a beautiful illustration style in the narrative. Add in an unpredictable (but good) ending and lots of little surprises along the way and the end result is a book that would make me definitely seek out further collaborations between Munroe and Sam. I might have confused their synergy with other creators in the past, but I certainly won't make that mistake again.

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posted by max at 2/20/2008 03:52:00 PM

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