Review - Shrugged #1

Sitting on everyone's shoulders are two implied beings; one guiding good decisions and another guiding bad decisions. The easiest way to make a decision is to simply shrug and that's on full display in Shrugged #1 from Aspen Comics.

The first issue is written by Frank Mastromauro, illustrated by Jonathan Marks and Micah Gunnell, lettered by Josh Reed and colored by Beth Sotelo.

Theo and his friends are entering their final year of high school and even though Ange and Dev are still along for the ride, a host of new characters have joined in on the adventure. Everything isn’t all fun and games this time around as an evil force has also returned and is preparing to silence those voices inside their heads…permanently. All that mixed in with Ember Silva plotting to return and both Magnuss and Marina seeking to stop her.

High school wasn't as hectic as it is in Shrugged, but that actually makes for interesting storytelling. The devil/angel dynamic is taken to the extreme in the issue (and presumably the series), with Mastromauro really making them main players. Everyone goes through moments where they're evaluating a situation and good and bad thoughts fill their minds; seeing it illustrated really helps hammer the point home about choice.

Considering the comic shifts from high school to a magical realm, Mastromauro handles the transition well. The world inhabited by Theo's "advisors" is the one where Ember Silva is running loose in. It's a world filled with magic and relatively unknown to our world, but as is often the case, the turmoil will likely spill over and cross some sort of magical boundaries.

The art by Marks and Gunnell is strong. There are a wide variety of creatures depicted and their presentation is extremely creative. Some of the panel layouts are rather unique, with some slicing and overlaying that really helps the art stand out. There's a lot of detail and emotion in the characters and backgrounds, demonstrating that the art team really put in some work.

Aspen is really doling out the magic-inspired comics and Shrugged #1 is no exception. The spectre of a freed Ember Silva looms large over the storyline and whether or not she can be stopped remains to be seen. In the meantime, enjoying the days of high school with an angel and devil guiding our decisions is something to be entertained by.

Shrugged #1 hits stores on March 13 with interiors below.