Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review - Thomas Alsop #1

"The monkey needs to dance. The dancing monkey. If you'll excuse me..."

Reality television makes celebrities out of the mundane. For some reason, viewers can't get enough of tuning into seeing the disaster that is those characters' lives. They don't need anything else to make them interesting, but if by some chance they also happened to hunt demons, things might get a lot more interesting. Such is the case in Thomas Alsop #1 from BOOM! Studios, written by Chris Miskiewicz, illustrated by Palle Schmidt and lettered by Deron Bennett.

Thomas Alsop is the current “Hand of the Island,” a title handed down from generation to generation. He guards Manhattan from evil, using his family’s prowess for magic. Being a thoroughly modern warlock, he deals with something even more evil than demons…reality television. And those demons are both external and internal, considering his fondness for alcohol and partying.

Reality television thrives on the chaos inherent in normal life and Thomas Alsop #1 further exacerbates that chaos. Alsop as a main character is something of a demon hunter enjoying his status as a celebrity, which obviously leads to some lapses in responsibility. Miskiewicz spends the entirety of the first issue offering up a history lesson in the lineage of the Hand of the Island, showing the reader how Alsop is the current incarnation. The pacing feels a little odd because of the choice to rely on the history of the character, but that's mainly because the book feels stuck in the past. It's a rather interesting choice to spend the issue in the past and definitely gives the reader the basis to understand Thomas Alsop.

A book like Thomas Alsop #1 is improved by Schmidt's art style. There are a lot of harsh lines and jagged edges that define the characters and still manage to showcase a good range of emotion in their facial expressions. The color palette used is pretty intriguing, as Schmidt seems to rely on differing tones to accent the different eras in the life of the Hand of the Island. The book doesn't really feature an overabundance of action, but Schmidt does manage to make the characters lounging look pretty convincing. The oldest setting feels particularly nostalgic and appropriate for the content of the book overall.

Thomas Alsop #1 is a book that looks to turn the concept of reality television on its head. The main character is something of a demon hunter who's parlaying his talent into fame and fortune, both of which he ensures to thoroughly enjoy. As the book focuses primarily on the history of the role, Thomas himself doesn't get an excess of time with the reader to introduce himself; something that Miskiewicz will likely expand upon in future issues. Schmidt's art is a great fit for the subject matter though, as it feels a little disjointed and matches the tone of the book itself. Thomas Alsop #1 is an interesting subversion of success pitched against continuing a centuries long battle to save humanity.

Thomas Alsop #1 is in stores June 18 with interiors below.


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