I like a good supernatural themed comic book as much as the next geek. I mean, dragons? Demons? Possession? Heroes? Destruction? Bring it on! With all of these things and more, it would seem only natural that Soulfire 6, from Aspen MLT would speak to my inner geek in pleasing ways. Oh, how I wish I could say that this were the case — I really do.
But, I can’t.
The underlying plot of the series, developed by Michael Turner, an artist and founder of Aspen MLT, has great potential. Supernatural destruction of worlds — the basic premise of so many great comic books, movies and books. You would think it would be a no-brainer to take this and make it something wonderful, and past arcs have had that touch of mythic magic that made them come alive. I’m not sure if it is the overall plot of this arc (developed by J.T. Krul and Frank Mastromauro), or the story for this particular issue (written by Krul), but issue 6 seems less magical and more — forced.
With Grace now possessed by the demon Oris, it is up to the rest of the crew, led (under protest by the others) by Sarin, to save her and protect the world from the demon who is hell-bent on destruction.
While the opening panels are visually stunning, both in color and artistry, from there the story and art seem to fall flat for me. Much of the first half of this issue is taken up with so-called ‘action’ scenes that sadly, lack action. It is almost as if the action is happening in the artist’s mind, and he just expects the reader to guess what should have happened. For example, at one point they are facing dragons which are rendered beautifully, but the protagonists are standing there…talking! At this point I’m rooting for the dragons and hoping the silly fools get eaten. You know what they say about dragons – be wary, for you are crunchy and taste good with catsup? — Well in this case, I’d be happy to provide the dragons with all of the condiments they want if they’d only eat the ‘heroes’.
Even when the characters aren’t standing around discussing things while the destruction goes on around them, the purely visual ‘action’ scenes show very little action at all. Lots of color. Lots of flames. No real action. Just seemingly random close up reaction shots of the protagonists…still talking. What is the point to having visually appealing and engaging enemies, if there is no real action in dealing with them? And this is coming from someone who doesn’t care for gore and explicit violence. But honestly…give me some kind of action.
And the kicker for me on the story front is the fact that there is a distinct switch from the so-called conflict/action of the first part of the issue, to the ‘debriefing’ scenes after Grace is freed from the possession of Oris. This switch seems forced and left me feeling as if something were missing in the plot development.
Not only did the story itself seem disjointed as it switched from action to debriefing, so did the art and coloring. While this could be argued to be a stylistic choice to signify the change in focus, it comes across as disjointed and distracting.
Upon seeing the first few panels, I was impressed by the style of the artwork and coloring, which gave me high hopes for the rest of the issue. Unfortunately, those hopes died shortly in, as the coloring on full-page ‘action’ scenes switched from engaging to dull and favoring a somewhat bland color palettes with muddy tones. Then when the ‘action’ died, the colors became brighter, the palette more varied and even the way the drawing of the characters changed; however the changes in how characters were drawn caused problems for identifying who everyone was (and I’m still not sure about some of them).
The story and art/coloring issues were a disappointment in and of themselves, but the grammar error on page 18 made me laugh, during one of the more serious discussions of the issue.
“…like her soul ascended peacefully to some higher plane. She’s didn’t.” (emphasis added)
Really? This makes sense? On what plane?
And I won’t even go into the physics and anatomy defying breasts problem.
Overall, this is a great plot that falls flat in a number of ways, which is rather disappointing considering the critical acclaim that Krul has found with his other Aspen MLT release, Fathom.