Riding With The Devil
The Urn #1 (Ashcan Press): Forgive the shady camera-phone pic, but I couldn’t find cover images of these creators’ books anywhere online. The www.ashcanpress.com web-site doesn’t appear to be updated super frequently. Anyway, this is the first of a planned 4-issue series written by Patrick Kindlon and Matthew Rosenberg, with art by Leandro Panganiban and Richard Yayon. There’s also a back-up story by Tom Scioli, of Godland fame with Joe Casey, and even a pin-up from Benjamin Marrra, a name that indie aficionados will instantly recognize. I found the font a little tough to read on the credits page, but overall The Urn has great production quality, apparently the result of yet another successful Kickstarter crowd-sourcing campaign. The story taps many familiar crime noir tropes, boasts some clever turns of phrase in the dialogue department, and is light on exposition (save one out loud monologue on the side of the road to the titular urn full of ashes). The story centers on ex-con Sun, out for the plain and visceral revenge of a dead lover. There’s a quick pit-stop at the lover’s sister’s place to collect her ashes and Sun is quickly plunged back into the world of low level organized crime and the Closed Caskets Motorcycle Club. Sometimes the dialogue is a little stilted and robotic: “How did you think that was going to go over?” But for the most part, the overarching story is full of base compelling ideas that are full of intrigue. Artistically, the pencils range from occasional skimpy backgrounds to a gorgeous level of panel detail and kinetic energy. The coloring is also attractive and the whole package is fairly accomplished for a journeyman publication. Tom Scioli’s psychedelic 60’s aesthetic is perfectly suited for the back-up feature, and even makes some of the kitschy dialogue sing: “You should have told me how fancy you are. You are magnificent.” I enjoyed Kindlon’s afterword (typos notwithstanding), especially the dichotomy between responding to situations and shaping them, which provides a nice contextual backdrop for this type of story. Holistically, I most appreciate the energy this title is able to capture, full of hard-charging action that is ready to pop off at a moment’s notice. This was one of the few unexpected surprises I picked up at WonderCon 2012 in Anaheim this past weekend, and I’m glad I did. In part, it assures me that there are still indie guys coming up with fresh original material tucked away in the corners of the industry that I’m not routinely exposed to. Grade B.