Friday, June 16, 2017

Review - Grave Wax #1


"Sleep thou, sleep, and away with thy sorrow."

Every town comes with its own legends and myths. Most of them surround the concept of a family's legacy intertwined with the town's. In Grave Wax #1, the intersection of family legacy and myth is where the story happens. The issue is written by Heather Palmer and illustrated/lettered by Allan MacRitchie.

Kininch is an old highland town, deep in the hills and mired in folklore. But folklore isn’t just a story in this town. When an ancient tomb is desecrated in the heart of the town graveyard, Cait, a lowlander laying low in the highlands, and Shay, the son of the local policeman, launch the investigation. Accompanied by their guide to all things that wail in the night, a punk librarian by the name of Waxy, the two delve deep into ancient promises, fresh curses and the secrets they have all been hiding.

Palmer knows that there's an abundance of folklore out there and that it's especially relative in smaller towns. That folklore serves as the backbone for Grave Wax #1 and Palmer leans into it very well to create a moody atmosphere for the issue. Cait and Shay have stumbled upon what appears to be a desecrated tomb in their town's graveyard, but as they investigate further Palmer ensures that there's the possibility of something more supernatural at play. The issue plays with this sense of the unknown pretty well, funneling a lot of its explanation through Waxy the librarian as a means of keeping the reader up to speed. Palmer doesn't tip her entire hand in the first issue as far as what's going on, but there's definitely enough questions asked that the reader remains intrigued.

The artwork by MacRitchie is an amorphous approach that leaves a lot to the imagination. Characters are rendered with vague attention to detail and an emphasis on heavy shading, providing the shadows that accompany the darkness of night. It's an interesting design choice too in that MacRitchie fills all the panels with black, allowing the characters to stand out that much more. MacRitchie's choice is pretty effective in essentially illustrating a story that largely takes place at night in a way that's pretty easy to follow. The other colors are also dark and largely reds and blues, maintaining a consistent presentation of darkness.

Grave Wax #1 is an ambitious first issue rife with superstitious undertones. Cait, Shay and Waxy are all getting caught up in what's originally believed to be a simple grave robbery that they'll likely find out is much more. Palmer's script is easy to read and does a solid job of presenting the stakes to the reader. MacRitchie's illustrations are loose and give the book an ethereal touch. Grave Wax #1 will appeal to those looking for some local folklore tales that doesn't require an in-depth knowledge of everything that goes bump in the night.

Grave Wax #1 is available now.

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