Friday Reviews: Out of body experiences

Every Friday I’ll be reviewing two books (usually comic books but occasionally something else). Today we’ll be looking at a woman thrust back into a life she thought she left behind, and a girl who’s left behind life.

Shutter Vol. 1: Wanderlost

Writer – Joe Keatinge, Artist – Leila del Duca

DIG031596_1Kate Kristopher is the last in a long family line of explorers, or so she thought. Ten years ago she watched her father die in front of her, and ever since she’s given up the adventuresome life. But on her birthday as she is visiting her father’s grave she’s attacked by ghosts with swords and a top-hat wearing pudgy robot. And that’s before three tiny mice try to put her in a crystal while a gang of lions fights to get her for themselves.

If you haven’t caught on yet, this is a bit of a fantastical world, and the storyline is much more about spectacle than necessarily moving the plot forward. del Duca’s art is amazing and will get you to stop and stare at many panels. There’s a good deal of humor both in the dialogue and in the imaginative creatures (particularly the assassin Richard Scarry sequence).

This book moves at a frantic pace, and while we do get some back story of their adventures together, there’s a lot more we’re left wanting to know about Kate and her father. We’re given some pretty shocking news in Issue 6 which seems to contradict information we just received in Issue 5, making it a little hard to figure out whether we’re supposed to believe Kate’s father is alive or dead. But Kate spends most of this book dodging explosions and gunfire to the point that when we get to the last third of the book which starts to have some explanation, we’re in need of the break.

It’s a little tough to figure out exactly how much of your big mystery you should give away in the first volume (or six months in comic book time), but I definitely want to know more, particularly about Kate’s extended family whom she only just discovered existed. I’m left at the end of this book not really knowing where Keatinge intends to lead us, but interested in coming along for the ride.

(4 stars | I want to see where this is going)

Mind the Gap Vol. 1: Intimate Strangers

Writer – Jim McCann, Artists – Adrian Alphona and Rodin Esquejo

AUG120486_1Elle Peterssen is young, rich and doesn’t remember who she is or how she came to be floating outside of her body. She’s not sure who to trust of her friends among the living or the comatose. The mostly dead are able to commune with each other in a world known as “The Garden”, though there’s a lot of question as to whether any of this is real or a figment of Elle’s comatose brain.

The art is sharp and realistic, comparable to titles like Revival and Morning Glories (for which Alphona does the covers). Elle has some ability to shape her reality, though most of the changes she causes are subconscious and not deliberate acts of will. The sequence where she remembers her attack as a series of wolves in hoodies attacking her as Little Red Riding Hood is a good example of this fantasy, not as wild as Shutter, but still capable of whimsy.

Why Elle and others are attacked and the exact nature of this Garden are still be revealed. Elle quickly learns that she has the ability to jump into the bodies of the about to expire, where she can gain a couple of minutes of movement and communication before passing back into the space between life and death. In this way she attempts to investigate her own attack and the forces that might be behind it including possibly her family and friends. A concerned doctor and her wife a cop also are drawn into the case and the suspicious behavior of the other doctors and Peterssen’s vitals.

Elle’s investigation of her own murder are comparable to sequences that Sally (a ghost) goes through in Being Human, and it does seem that Elle is developing comparable powers. Whether any of what she’s learned will be retrained when or if she goes back to her body is yet to be seen.

Sadly, this title seems to be on hiatus or at least on a very irregular schedule (only up to issue 17) so the full mystery may not be revealed, but the shocking reveal at the end of this volume is enough to get me to at least pick up issue 7.

(4 stars | Hope we get a complete story)

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