Thursday, July 19, 2007

We Shadows, v. 1

By Sonny Strait
Released by TokyoPop

Slugline: An epic story manages to emerge from an confusing mess of a beginning.

We Shadows has a rather inauspicious, confusing beginning. As far as I can tell, there are several strands of storyline that eventually coalesce into a tapestry, though admittedly I am not sure where all the pieces go yet. There is a man that keeps on having blackouts, has a job that's driving him crazy, a psychologist who seems to know way too much of what is going on, and the annoying ability to snap and threaten everyone around him with a magical control over plants. That is the first section of the book -- just work past that and get to what ends up being the main meat of the book. A character, Puck, has been a mercenary away from Earth for a long time and ends his existence due to ennui. The queen of the Faeries -- and in this case the faeries are more like Tinkerbell -- Titania, has been napping, usually more asleep than awake, along with most of her subjects since the beginning of the age of industry. The Glamour Gloms, creatures that first appear to be faeries but are later revealed to be both more and less than just that, have been using glamour in all of its forms to stay awake and in power. Goat is a wingless faerie who has been kicked about by the Gloms, thinking that she is in training to be a faerie princess -- a belief that is fostered by a talking mushroom that no one else can hear. That being said, the mushroom has been misleading her, and that there is a fate both greater and lesser than what she is hoping for awaiting her.

If this synopsis is a little bit all over the place, that is partially an result of the story. The first half is slow going, and there are a lot of things going on that don't seem to hold together. By the end of the book, well, you are sure that Goat is the main character, and what the central story is, but there are some peices that still seem left over. Much like those Lego sets you would get in Christmas, there would always seem to be a few pieces left over that you had no idea where they went, but still you knew that they have to belong somewhere. I am betting that they will fit in the next volume, but at the moment they just lay there.

It may be just me, but I also sense an attempt to follow the Star Wars archetype of storytelling. The first story injects hope, the second volume despair, and the final volume triumph. Then again, I may have read more articles about myth structure than are good for me.

Sonny Strait also includes a lot of extras in the back, including his entry in the 24 hour comic, something that many manga fans may not be aware of: a challenge to create a 24-page comic in 24 hours. It is, in theory, a superhero comic, so that means at long last TokyoPop has finally published one.

We Shadows, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

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