Friday, March 7, 2014

Review - Valley 01 #1

Oh my! So delectable!"

Bilateral Comics is a brand new publisher, fighting to get your attention. Their first work is called Valley 01 #1 and it might be the fun space western you've been missing in your life. The first issue is written by David Heath and illustrated by Anita Zaramella.

This issue follows the story of Bartlett, a wanderer who collects and sells technological scrap on the barren world of Valley-01. Traces of the mysterious planet Charris, which looms overhead in the sky, give hints towards the coming conflict. There's also a pawn shop bull, hallucinogenic fairie and a wild west sensibility pervasive throughout the entire issue.

Heath offers a tale that's one-part wild west, one-part Dungeons & Dragons and one part Firefly. The western setting really seems to work in just about situation and Bartlett is a capable enough main character for said setting. He's a little down on his luck as of late, scavenging for scraps to sell in what appears to be a normal routine for him. He's a character who's pretty much resigned to his daily fate, not really looking to be anything else. The fact is though that he's clearly destined for something greater, as his characteristics indicate that he's not one to sit idly by when either a wyvern needs to be dispatched or investigating the unknown. He's familiar with Valley 01, knows all its intricacies and still has to fight a little to survive.

Zaramella's art appears to be inspired by pulp books from the 1970s. Very clean lines define the characters and the backgrounds don't really exhibit an excess of attention to detail, but they don't really need to honestly. Bartlett looks sufficiently grizzled, a combination of the desert sun beating down on him and the hardships he faces on a daily basis. And despite the relatively sparse backgrounds devoid of much detail, she manages to convey to the reader the desolation and despair that Valley 01 as an environment carries. By and large, the panel layout is fairly formulaic, save for a few instances where Zaramella packs a couple pages with an array of densely packed and abnormally shaped panels.

Valley 01 #1 is creating an interesting universe, one where the characters are forced to deal with pretty tough conditions in an even tougher environment. Heath's dialogue and story is pretty familiar, but there's enough in the way of character diversity to present something new for readers. Zaramella's art is solid as well, giving readers a clean style that really captures the essence of the tale. The series is starting off with what appears to be a well-thought out universe and the potential to go in some very interesting directions.

Valley 01 #1 is available for order via the Bilateral Comics website.


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