Thursday, July 10, 2014
"At this time we are being told that a heavy bladed object was the murder weapon, possibly an axe."
The idea behind a legend is that it can't entirely be proved or disproved; that's what makes legends, well, legendary. There are some legends that get urbanized in a way and end up scaring countless individuals as they're passed from person to person. Recounting those tales keeps the legend alive and the comics Urban Legends #1 & #2 seek to do just that. The issues are written by Keith Thomas, illustrated by Miriam Medina and colored by Jeff Balke.
The first issue features Krista, a young lady who works at Paper City Comics. She's closing up shop one night before headed out for a night of reverie with her friend when she's privy to an urban legend. Needless to say, she doesn't quite make her rendezvous. The second issue features Jill, excited to be going on a date with Jack Donovan. The two of them are going to make their way to Overlook Point, where they're sure to encounter lust and violence, courtesy of another urban legend.
Urban Legends doesn't try to be something it's not, which helps the book in many ways. The title page of the first issue (and the first page of the issue itself) offer up the premise behind the book and so far Thomas has delivered. He's taken two of the more popular urban legends and given each their own issue, but ties them together through the nightly news reporting on various deaths. It's a nice touch that makes the world in Urban Legends feel small and like these things could happen to anybody. Both issues suffer from some pacing woes; the first book proceeds extremely fast, while the second spends a lot of time on Jill choosing a wardrobe. The urban legends themselves are what the books are going for, but when they actually happen, you care more for the perpetrator than the victims, largely because you've probably heard of the legends before the books. The legends have a sort of culturally established character thanks to that knowledge.
Bringing the urban legends to life is a tricky proposition, largely because they're legends. Medina handles it by illustrating shadowy figures in trench coats and fedoras, ascribing the cultural perceptions of the legends' appearance to the legends themselves. Settings are very minimal and basic, with little attention paid to detail in terms of the backgrounds. Both Krista and Jill are depicted as very buxom and attractive, which could be to fit in with the concept of attractive women being the targets of the urban legends' ire for whatever reason. The style feels somewhat manga inspired and makes the book feel a little brighter than it probably should.
Urban Legends #1 & #2 is a book that feels like it comes really close to being awesome, but falls just short for some reason. Capitalizing on the mythos surrounding the stories is a great idea for a comic book and using the news reports of the deaths as a running means of tying the world together is clever. Thomas' scripts though spend a lot of time focusing on the mundane (microwaving a burrito, trying on clothes) and the reader never really gets invested in the characters. Medina's art focuses more on the characters and relies on basic geometry to make up the settings they move through. Urban Legends #1 & #2 offers a new look at some old stories that all exist in a world that could easily be our own.
Urban Legends #1 & #2 are available now with a trailer below. Urban Legends #3 should be available in August.