Plot: The war between Heaven and Hell is taking to the streets and itís up to Godís envoy Trent to nullify the Devilís spawns.
Commentary: Iíll be honest and say I wasnít expecting much from Envoy. But I was pleasantly surprised to find a fun comic with very strong, kinetic art. And itís the art that really shines in this first issue.
The story begins with a school shooting that is linked to a rock-bandís music. Unlike most real world cases, the rocker is trying corrupt the youth and turn every annoying pock-marked teenager into a murderous servant of Satan himself. (As if they werenít already!) Trent, part of a secret force to quash these demons, ambushes the rocker and clobbers his way to eternal victory.
Sergio Mulkoís art is unmistakably inspired by Jack Kirbyís dynamic style. His characters are in constant motion, never posing, invested in the scene. The investment of the scene is the strength of kinetic artwork because it brings a vibrant acceptance of even the most hokiest and outlandish plots. Furthermore, the energy of his characters connotes their action and intention boldly, making story and subtext easy to follow.
For example Trent masquerades as the satanic rockerís assistant, chauffeuring the musician and two groupies back home. Trentís calm and steadfast demeanor in this scene is later contrasted when the rocker ambushes him, where he then conveys both attention and trepidation. Much like Kirby, Mulko suggests sinew with strong straight lines inside the muscle as the combatants smack, kick, and beat each other.
This is not to say that Mulko is any way equivalent to Kirby, but clearly the artist works in Kirbyís style and does it quite well. Envoy has a classic feel and sensibility that is admirable, likable, and rather nostalgic. It feels like an old comic without being anachronistic or ironic.
Unfortunately, the dialogue lacks the same depth and goals. Instead, Gary Philips writes clichť fight banter. It isnít cringe inducing but it is certainly detracting. Moreover, Philips is so very longwinded that at times you wish his characters would have the good sense to shut up. In the finale speech, Trent goes on and on and on and on about his mission, its consequences, and his resolve. I got the point twenty words ago. No need to fall back awful phrases like, ďÖthereís a couple people I give a damn about in this world.Ē
So, if you want a break from the ultra realism of todayís mainstream comics, pick up Envoy # 1 and hope Gary Philips will embrace brevity in issue #2.
Final Word: A pleasant surprise.
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