When god closes a door he apparently also opens a window, all I know is that when Kurtis J. Wiebe scripts the end of one series he is sure to start scribbling ideas for a second in the margins; so while Grim Leaper may have been made into ashes today, like brush from a bushfire his other Image mini Debris is only just beginning to sprout. This though is an entirely unsuitable metaphor to make about a story set in a world without bush to burn or water with which to douse it; perhaps instead I should have said, ‘like serpents from spare parts…’ or some other such more applicable sentence. Unfortunately though the fact that the book has just now broken the surface of the soil – to revert to my original metaphor – is a critical issue bigger to me than any colossus.
The first issue of Debris did a decent job of introducing us to Maiden, a town made from recycled refuse that harbors the last living humans and its protector Maya, our protagonist. It was something of a prelude but the final page suggested the story was set to begin as soon as the second issue did, I just wasn’t sure what exactly that would entail. This second issue spends the majority of its time similarly introducing us to her sidekick Kessel and the crazy phallic tower-lab that he has lived in ever since he was cast out of Maiden ( Freudian analysis apparent before he asks Maya to “get him back inside Maiden” seconds after listlessly recalling an old love, but I liked the conformation).
While I liked hearing his story and seeing, with Maya, another side to the innocent Maiden I’m just not sure if the pacing of it was right for a four issue series; we were struggling to do justice to all the characters and concepts as is, let alone now that we are one issue down and one lead up. Were this an ongoing title I would have been all for this speed of approach but as it stands I am troubled. This though is not something that I want to dwell on, its not really fair to fault a book for something that it hasn’t yet failed at.
Another issue that I had last week was with Riley Rossmo’s art. Now, before you say it, yes he painted a very vibrant and pretty set of pictures ( the colour of the comic is intense and wonderful, so it seems strange that the covers would be so stark and dry. I like the contrast, but for the unsold browser a splash page with the title slapped on would probably sell twice as well. ) but the compositions of these in the page, and the randomly inserted white space was a bit shocking.
This month though all those qualms were either answered or quashed: the book begins with a complex action sequence that relies entirely on his sense of visual storytelling and its flow is seamless, more intelligible than most movies and with full impact (thanks in part to some clever use of those unrendered backgrounds). On top of this Kessel’s inventory of inventions allow Riley to display his eye for detail (literally in some panels, the shape of the eyes and a smile that adorn the tower’s facade are also visible from the inside on certain angles) while his sorrowful story shows off the emotional potential of showing only a face in a panel, focusing on their expression once their surrounds have been established.
After all, while the debris made into monsters may be the biggest selling point to some the comic itself is much more invested in the people that have been made into debris; the castaways and the cutouts, theirs is the journey that I’m interested in. So all in all I thought that this was a strong step forward for the series, but also a small one; the journey is barely begun, but I have faith in this team to take me on it. Athabasca may merely be a legend, I may not yet know what West means to me but I, like Maya, will continue to walk it, step by step, issue by issue, until I either get there or die trying. Let’s hope its not the latter, though knowing Wiebe….