Wednesday, May 28, 2014
"Well...you don't look like a magician."
Magicians face a level of scrutiny that few other performers do. If it's not struggling to convince skeptics that the magic is "real," it's convincing the audience that the trick is exciting. The Last Broadcast #1 from Archaia Entertainment offers a mix of both, not to mention the involvement of a previously great magician as well. The issue is written by André Sirangelo, illustrated by Gabriel Iumazark and lettered by Deron Bennett.
Blackhall the Incredible was just that...incredible. He was one of the best magicians in the world in the 1930s, right up until his mysterious death at the hands of one of his own tricks (illusions?). In the present, an urban spelunking group comprised of Harumi and Niko discover a secret bunker in San Francisco that might have belonged to him. This is pretty fortuitous, as Ivan is a young, out-of-work magician who idolizes Blackhall and receives news that his death may be part of a greater conspiracy. Both groups dive into the mystery, not yet realizing that it’s about the change their lives forever.
Ivan comes across as something of struggling talent. He's clearly been good enough in the past to garner audience appeal, but his routine has gone stale as of late, prompting him to try anything possible to turn his fortunes around. In this regard, Sirangelo does a great job characterizing Ivan as a down on his luck performer. And using the legend of Blackhall as the point of convergence for both Ivan and the explorers is pretty interesting, as it assures they'll cross paths in a somewhat organic nature. One of the downsides of this is that there's something of an imbalance in character development, with Ivan getting more attention than Harumi and Niko. The latter are explorers whose explorations feel a little hurried, whereas Ivan gets more time to be fleshed out.
The Last Broadcast #1 offers an illustrative style that appears to becoming more and more the norm for comics like this. Iumazark eschews the somewhat traditional character designs for something a bit more eerie, which is extremely effective considering the context of the book. The look adds a level of mystery to a book about magic and urban spelunking, which works well to engage the reader and bring them along for the ride. The exploration part of things is further emboldened by dark colors and the appearance of tight spaces, which proves that even exploring the depths of cities can be claustrophobic.
The Last Broadcast #1 is a fairly complex and intriguing story that merges past with present and magicians with explorers. Ivan is definitely flawed as a lead character, but it's through that lens that the reader will inevitably get invested more deeply into the storyline. Sirangelo crafts a clever tale that doesn't feel forced and should move along at a great pace, uncovering mysteries as more are resolved. Iumazark's scratchy, vague style goes to great lengths to further embolden the ambiguous narrative, promising to envelop the reader in darkness and suspense. The Last Broadcast #1 is a slight departure from many books currently out there, but it's a worthwhile trip to make for readers looking for something new and exciting.
The Last Broadcast #1 is available in stores now with interiors below.