Review - Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits #1

"Pretty day for the dead to come a-visiting."

Death has a funny way of not recognizing the permanence of the situation it finds itself in. Sometimes, the dead return for a myriad of different reasons, some of which involve the eating of chocolate infused with chile peppers. Greentea Publishing has a book in Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits #1 that's a little bit of all of the above. The issue is written by Vera Greentea, illustrated by Laura Müller and lettered by Frank Cvetkovic.

Nena is your typical little girl. She likes street festivals, loves her family and just so happens to be a ghost searching for her family during the festival of the Day of the Dead, while dodging ambitious exorcist apprentices. As a ghost, Nena explores the labyrinthine streets of Mexico during its most eerily evocative celebration. She's doing so with the purpose of finding her family, but also to escape Bastian, the first of the exorcists speeding after her.

Nena is something of a conundrum as presented in the first issue. She's pitched as looking for her family, but it seems she has something more devious in mind, primarily for Bastian. Greentea's story relies on relatively little dialogue, most of which is used as banter between Nena and Bastian. It reads a lot like Aladdin's encounter with Jasmine in Disney's Aladdin, with the two of them exchanging pleasantries and general flirting. There's a lot of build-up to a big secret that ends the issue and will clearly pave the way for things to come though, which does offer something enticing.

Illustratively, Müller's art is rather breathtaking. It invokes an impishness that is a perfect accompaniment for Nena's character and giving all the characters a cartoonish feel to them; this is another way the book feels like a Disney movie. There's a good sense of kinetics in their movements as well that gives the reader the sense of the chase that Bastian relies on in pursuit of Nena. There are an abundance of reds and blacks throughout that underscore the somewhat morbid nature of the book as well to great effect, ensuring the reader remembers every now and then the setting is the Day of the Dead.

Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits #1 is an interesting first issue that takes the concept of a haunting to a different place. Nena is something of a wild card in the story, proving to be on a mission to give Bastion both the slip and a series of pranks for her enjoyment. Greentea writes her with an equivalent amount of precociousness, even if where she leads Bastion is a little unworldly. It's a book that on its surface seems harmless enough, but further reading proves that it's a bit darker than it lets on. Fans of books like Ghost and even Umbral will likely be interested in checking out Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits #1.

Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits #1 is available now via Comixology.