I always say you should give a comic series at least two issues, if not three, to win you over. That’s because stories in the comic book format aren’t told issue by issue but in arcs. We take a look at this series which we felt was so-so at best, but how is issue #2? Is it good?
The Shadow Glass #2 (Dark Horse)
This is how Dark Horse Comics summarizes the second issue:
Rosalind’s search for the truth about her past brings her face to face with her father at the home of her tutor, where the two men are set to perform a conjuration to loose the powers of a powerful object that pulls Rosalind in as well.
Why does this book matter?
Aly Fell has made a name for himself by taking his art from the commercial world and delving into television and gaming with his fantasy illustration. He’s nearly done it all, from paperback covers to webcomic work, but this is his first comic book series. Without a doubt you know the art will look good, so why not give it a whirl?
A lot of dialogue and not a lot of action in this issue.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
And to Fell’s credit this book is gorgeous. The characters are well rendered and almost lifelike, the surroundings are detailed and clear, and his ability to draw accurate light sources is dramatic too. The protagonist is a little too sexualized for my tastes (especially since she looks like she’s 12), but you really can’t find a panel here that’s poorly drawn. The great outdoors are exquisite, as in one scene Rosalind leaves her home and wanders the countryside. Later we get some actual magic and it’s surreal, beautiful, and jaw-droppingly pretty.
This issue also introduces a black mirror with a storied past and we get a full flashback explanation of where it came from. It’s a cool concept and, when used later, makes for a compelling element to the story. This culminates in a cliffhanger that seems to promise something will happen next issue.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The story is flat out boring. Though the flashback to the black mirror’s past is interesting, it’s still told in a boring, explanatory way. Fell can compose a panel quite well, but it’s stiff like a painting. It doesn’t do enough to carry the story forward and that hurts the enjoyment of a book when characters stand around listening in on conversations or spouting exposition and nothing more for pages on end. This is in part because the characters are rather flat. Everyone seems to have sleepy eyes in this comic–they’re rendered beautifully, but for what cause?
I’m told this book is about a young student of England’s greatest occultist, but if you only read this issue you’d think Rosalind is a prisoner of an old man who is supposed to stay locked away in her room. Rosalind has nothing much to do in this issue either. The entire issue could be broken up into three parts. First, Rosalind listens to three men discuss the black mirror. Second, Rosalind gets in trouble for spying. Third, Rosalind leaves, but comes back. It’s as if the men are doing everything and Rosalind is just there. Again, much of this book reads as if it was written to come up with cool panels to draw first.
Who’s the girl? What’s happening?
Is It Good?
This is a beautifully drawn bore. It feels as if the outlining phase started with panel composition, moved to story, and then at the last moment character development was considered. The book looks great, but it’s about as interesting as watching paint dry.