This past week it has been my pleasure to read the new digital graphic novel from Septagon Studios and created by a Spanish team including writer Laura Fuentes and artist Patricio Clarey. Now, as I’ve previously mentioned, I really don’t care for digital comics. Every time one comes up for review I slowly and reluctantly raise my hand out of a pool of tepid disinterest to volunteer because I suppose it gives me something to be annoyed about. Generally I scroll (I hate having to say that) through the pages with a million other distractions and miss out on that escape that comes from holding a graphic novel in my hand. I hold it against the comics, I really do. So, how did Archeologists of Shadows perform against the disadvantage of having such a grumbling and dismissive reviewer? For instance, was my distaste for digital comics overturned? No, but I’m unreasonable. The dominant feeling I did have after finishing the first volume in this epic science fiction tale was that I desperately wanted a printed edition of this comic to sit on my shelf forever. The glossy pages of the bound medium could only do a great service to the stunning art and concept that Fuentes and Clarey have given us. In other words: Shit was awesome, go download it and digital prejudices be damned.
Is my recommendation not enough to convince you to give it an immediate download? (the entire volume is only $.99, by the way). What a smart shopper you are. Here’s some product information for the penny-pincher in all of us: I hesitate to say that it’s steampunk, because I’d hate to turn people off of a book that they’d love because of disinterest or dislike of a genre. There have been no airships or fingerless gloves yet, I promise. However, the heavy focus on technological themes definitely strays into the steamy realm.
In the world of AoS, the holy scriptures of the Gods have been interpreted by those in the know, and their holy word isn’t looking so favorably on us humans (particularly the fleshy bits that we are known for). Enter Mechanization, the society-wide mandate dictating that all organic matter be chemically replaced by, well, machinery. The effect, I’m sure you could guess, is a world of robot people. Robot people that must answer to, among other things, Asimov’s Laws of Robotics. Cool right? Naturally, there’s always a few Negative Nancies that resist the process and ruin it for the rest of us (not really, tin can bodies are not cute).
Enter Baltimo and Alix, two organics whose bodies are somewhat resistant to the process (their minds aren’t too thrilled about it either) and who face the impending threat of forced surgical mechanization, which just doesn’t sound pleasant. On the precipice of total annihilation, holy scripture seems a whole lot less infallible and the pair abandon train(this is not a metaphor, they’re on a train) and run away to the anonymity of the big city. However before they make it half a step, they are fingered by both the authorities and the resistance. The first condemns them for their stubborn carbon fixation, and the second (comprised of both the Archeologists of Shadows and the Archeologists of Lights) seeks the pair because they may or may not be the foretold incarnations of the Alter-egos of the Gods. Consequentially Alix and Baltimo may be only beings who can speak to the Guys-In-Charge to ask them what the holy hell is up with all this Mechanization shit?
The art, which I mentioned in fangirl-passing earlier, is breath-taking. Truly. It really gives new meaning on usage of light…and shadows which, while serving the overall dichotomy motif they’re going for, helps create a beautiful and also a little disturbing environment with a lot of depth for our robot people to inhabit. Oh, and the robot people? Amazingly designed. Clarey discussed a bit of the process here, but I’ll mention that a great deal was derived from objects the artist had in his home. The effect was character designs that were eerily familiar and had a recognizable language.
I fell in love with Fuentes’ style and script. The very weird universe is never presented with a heavy hand, but is unveiled slowly and develops gradually. She manages to do this so masterfully that I was never once annoyed by too many unknowns that made what I was reading un-followable or bored by an unskilled dump of information. You’ll be captivated by Archeologists of Shadows from beginning to end: the end being a great place to start volume 2, which is also now available.
Wow, so that’s what writing a rave review is like? I have to say, it was nice.