Review - Santeria The Goddess Kiss #1 (@AspenComics)

"Oonaa's worshippers were without need nor fear. For in this place, at this time, the goddess was without peer..."

The history of magic is filled with, well, magic and mystery. Different cultures view the mysteries through a variety of lenses and one of those lenses is voodoo. Aspen Comics is pursuing that angle in Santeria The Goddess Kiss #1. The issue is written by David Wohl, illustrated by Giuseppe Cafaro, colored by Wes Hartman and lettered by Josh Reed.

Life hurts more than death. In Spanish Harlem, Emergency Medical Techs Michael and Naomi are working the violent and unpredictable streets daily. However, nothing can prepare the duo as a routine police shooting reveals something far more powerful-and dangerous-for Naomi's future!

There's a lot to take in by reading Santeria The Goddess Kiss #1...a lot. Naomi is being pitched as the main character contending with a supernatural element that's poised to catch her (and others) off-guard. Wohl does his best to wrangle a story out of all the exposition, but there are a ton of narration boxes throughout the issue that offer up an abundance of information about the new universe being created. It's almost as if Santeria The Goddess Kiss #1 is cramming two different series into one, prompting a few moments where the reader has to do a double-take to keep up. Wohl's dialogue is done in a way that makes it somewhat digestible, but there's just so much to take in.

The art style is pretty unique and adds an intriguing element to the book. Cafaro's approach is a little loose in terms of detail, leaning on a sketch-like quality to the work. The linework emphasizes different facets of the action in a way that is slightly jilted and askew. That approach gives the book a raw and unsettled quality, which actually works within the framework of the story. Hartman's colors are almost washed out and continue the somewhat eerie vibe pervasive throughout the book--this look even manages to downplay the visual impact of blood.

Santeria The Goddess Kiss #1 starts with an otherworldly premise and brings it into the modern era. Naomi's position as protagonist will provide a unique take on the strange occurrences about to befall the city. Wohl's script is overflowing with story detail all set amidst underlying themes such as police brutality and witchcraft. Cafaro's artwork is loose and provides uneasiness for the reader in terms of tone. Santeria The Goddess Kiss #1 is a very ambitious first issue that's chock full of narrative--almost too much--that is laying the groundwork for a lot of things to come.

Santeria The Goddess Kiss #1 is in stores March 16.