Review - Cognition Volume #1 (@Comichaus)

"Aye, superstitious lot around here."

There's a lot out there that's unexplained and requires the right people to investigate. Cognition Volume #1 from Comichaus doesn't have people investigating; it's got a robot and a mouse. The book is written and lettered by Ken Reynolds and illustrated by Sam Bentley.

This tale recounts the exploits of a steam-powered automaton with a human soul and a demonically possessed mouse. They are spiritually linked, and cannot escape each other. Using their shared demonic power they battle ghouls and monsters for The British Occult Secret Service (B.O.S.S.), under the eye of spymaster magician Silas Pope, at the height of the Golden age of the Victorian Era.

Reynolds approach in the book is conventional in style, but unconventional in substance--and that's a good thing. The concept of a robot and a mouse--both of whom are possessed by demons--seems ridiculously far-fetched, yet somehow Reynolds manages to make it work. The overarching B.O.S.S. organization plays a big part in that, as Reynolds demonstrates a grander picture of what's happening and uses that as the overarching narrative to tie everything together rather tidily. Reynolds also infuses the dynamic between the lead characters with spirited dialogue that affords plenty of back and forth exchanges that range from snippy to admiration. The reality of the dialogue makes the story conceit a bit easier to accept, although there's certainly something to be said about the outlandishness of the story to begin with.

Bentley's artwork throughout the issue lends some credibility to the setting as a whole, thanks in large part to his eschewing of colors and leaning heavily on the black and white aesthetic. The use of silhouettes for defining the characters is intriguing as it steeps the book in a Victorian occult feel. There's also plenty of creativity in the panel designs and layouts, all of which allow Bentley to give the book a dynamic feel that ebbs and flows with the situation the characters are being faced with. Even Cal and Sigma feel right at home in the story, despite the fact that they're not what you'd expect from demon hunters. There are some points where the darkness feels a tad overwhelming, but fortunately Bentley balances that with plenty of negative space elsewhere.

There's certainly a lot to like in Cognition Volume #1, the most prevalent being that it feels fresh and original and boasts a ton of content. Cal and Sigma are an unlikely duo thrust together by even more unlikely circumstances, but their rapport is quite enjoyable. The creativity in the work feels like dedication on the part of Reynolds to offer something interesting. Bentley's approach gives the book a sense of authenticity in that it feels as if you're looking at lost articles from a different era. Cognition Volume #1 is a solid collection of the unique series that offers something new for readers to enjoy.

Cognition Volume #1 will be available soon and is currently in Kickstarter mode.