ADVANCE REVIEW! Man of God #1 will go on sale Wednesday, May 22, 2012.
I've been doing a bunch of columns and reviews on Comics Bulletin talking about why creator ownership is so important, about how owning the stake in a character or series produces work that's from the heart. Creator-owned work is sincere, intense, emotional, and obviously means a lot to the creators.
Ladies and gentlemen, here's yet another example of that sort of heartfelt work: Man of God #1, a pretty damn good horror comic that you really should take a look at.
I've been reading comics by Yvel Guichet at DC and Valiant since — well, since there was a Valiant Comics — and his work on Man of God is as interesting as anything he's done in his career. Just look at the smart design in the pages that are spread throughout this review and you can see that he's obviously having fun with the medium while presenting the story in clever ways.
Look at the lovely way that the panels flow together on page 3 of this story. Guichet's arrangement on this page is a smart way to make static images compelling. We can see the desolation of John's wife as she sits next to his hospital bed, depicted as a static scene with subtle conveying of emotions. Below that scene we see the happiest days of the couple, in a nicely drawn set of grayish images, seemingly fading from memory.
We find out a bit later in the story that these are indeed memories but that this scene has some unexpected foreshadowing for a corpulent necrophiliac and a vicious pederast. What were sweet memories quickly become horrific memories as evil men are confronted and battled.
The story is a bit familiar, but takes some unexpected turns as it goes on. The reanimated corpse at the center of the story is a classic horror story hero, but is also cleverly unique. He seems to really have a bit of a soul to him, and is kind of a crusader for good, but also has his story take a surprising twist towards the end. The story in this issue is just familiar enough to be comfortable and just offbeat enough to be interesting. Craig Partin does a nice job of walking that subtle line.
But much as I enjoyed the story, Yves Guichet's storytelling is what really makes me love this comic. He really is wonderful at showing the helter-skelter grittiness of this story while employing smart storytelling techniques. Look at the great final panel on page 25, where the character in the foreground has a clever interplay with the events in the background. The comic is full of moments like that, which show that, even though he isn't drawing Aquaman anymore, Guichet still has fantastic chops.
Would Guichet have done work as wonderful if he wasn't working in small press? Maybe, but here he really shows off some outstanding skills. I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this comic, but I was really surprised by how much I liked it.