Thursday, December 26, 2013

Review - The Lion and The Unicorn #1

"They say that silence speaks volumes..."

Kings come and go, but kingdoms last a lot longer. The aforementioned waning kings are the ones tasked with ruling the kingdoms, offering whatever manner of rule they deem fit for their subjects. There are some who rule with generosity and others with ferocity; the dichotomy between the two is on full display in The Lion and The Unicorn #1. The issue is written, illustrated and lettered by Ash Pure.

As an ancient kingdom lies crumbling, the capital city is on the verge of revolution. TechGnosis is a "gift" granted to the country via selling its psychic technology and Utopian lifestyle as a means of escaping the impending rebellion. Cue a powerful psychic knight and an old war hero to join together as the Lion and the Unicorn respectively, Defenders of the Realm and Keepers of the King's Peace. Of course, things aren't that simple, as there are others within the country with much more devious machinations regarding the state of the country.

Pure's story is pretty simplistic in its scope. A king is dying and ownership of the thrones is largely up for debate, with multiple characters vying for the power in order to shape the country in their eyes. The characters are largely undefined; instead, the reader is forced to draw upon character stereotypes in order to infer what type of person that character is. The conflict is conveyed through the somewhat schizophrenic presentation of the dialogue. Pure uses a combination of dialogue, signs in the world and narration text boxes presented in surrealistic fashion to tell the story, all of which works pretty well in concert. There are some font sizes and colors that are a little difficult to make out against the black background though, which isn't enough to detract from the overall enjoyment of the issue.

Pure's visual style is probably what stands out the most in the book. He mixes photo montage, rotoscope, illustration, typography and graphic design techniques to offer a very unique artistic style that works alongside the somewhat purposefully disjointed story. Characters are depicted with vague definition and lack of attention to facial expressions that offer one part of the entire visual package. There's no emphasis on settings either, leaving the characters sort of floating on their pages. The book capitalizes on a palette of reds, blacks, whites and grays to keep the dystopian Utopia feel properly gloomy.

The Lion and The Unicorn #1 is rather interesting when taken as a complete package. The story is fairly straightforward and will be rather familiar to many readers. The art is a collage of sorts that blends together a wide variety of art styles for something of a comic being presented in scrapbook form. The combination of the writing and art make for a somewhat compelling story and hopefully future issues will flesh that story out a bit more. It's cool piecing things together from the varied storytelling approaches contained within, but it'd be helpful if they were brought together a little more tightly. Still though, it's a very compelling first issue that offers a fresh perspective on a classic tale of kingdom power struggles.

The Lion and The Unicorn #1 is available now via Comixology, iTunes, Graphicly, Lulu and Barnes & Noble.


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