One of the things I’ve always found particularly fascinating about this merry fusion of art and prose that is the graphic storytelling industry is how artists and writers clearly have to work together in order to craft a compelling read. More often than not (sadly), there’s very little stylistic considerations given to the scribbles and scrawls, watering down the tone of the piece sometimes to the point of making the drawings feel like an accessory to the words. Either that or the art feels like a secondary consideration: what the publisher really wanted was to go out and sign some well-established crime novelist – like, say, Greg Rucka – and bring him in to essentially tell any story he wanted. “We gotta illustrate it? Then put what’s-his-name on it! He’s an interesting choice! He’ll make it look good!”
Something else is definitely afoot in VEIL. In fact, methinks there’s quite a bit at play. If you’re truly interested, then stay tuned after my usual qualifier for some of the saucier details.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
Veil woke up this evening, lying in an abandoned subway terminal among a field of rats. But – looking like she does (which happens to be entirely nude) – she’ll make friends quickly (the wrong kind of friends) once she walks the busy city streets above, until a polite young man named Dante intervenes the way a gentleman should and offers her his coat. Before the dazed and confused young maiden can be snatched away by forces who’d love to do vile things to her, he manages to take her back to his apartment, get her some clothes, and try to communicate with her. However, fate has more in store this evening than what Dante was prepared for, and, before you know it, they’ll both be on the run from both sides of the law.
Now – without spoiling anything – let me tell you first that this first issue is a doozy. Fortunately, it’s a quick read – there’s scant prose in here, as much of the first several pages is heavily dedicated to some deliciously moody artwork served up by Toni Fejzula – but don’t do like I did and miss the details. Remember what I said: pay close attention to the details. Crime novelist Greg Rucka has forgotten more about the fine print than folks like you and I have ever learned, and I can’t help but thinking that he and Toni are in cahoots, carefully sprinkling clues for any dear reader to discover in even those first few small panels. For instance, there’s a gun, an exchange of money, and maybe even something a little more that goes down right as this clever little ditty begins. So sit up and pay attention, kids: there are masters at work here.
Also, VEIL isn’t without her own mysteries. She’s a puzzle – a beautiful quandary of the most deadly possibility available to man – and I suspect she plucked even her own name right out of thin air. Or did she?
Clearly, there’s more at work than any of us can ever truly know in a first issue, but Rucka and the team are on the job, dishing out a wonderful set-up for intelligent readers. Will they be able to sustain this along with the supporting tension for its five-issue run? There’s no way to know from these pages, but let me be the first to heartily encourage you to run out and pick this one up if you haven’t yet. It’s a grand start to something that appears to be as dark and magical a contemporary fairy tale (with crime, don’t forget) than you’re likely see anywhere on shelves today.
VEIL #1 (of 5) is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by novelist/author Greg Rucka; with artwork provided by Toni Fejzula; and lettering by Nate Piekos of Blambot. The issue comes with a cover price of $3.50 – not the best deal in town, but it’s well worth the price so far as this long-time comic book reader is concerned.
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. There’s an awful lot going on in VEIL that doesn’t quite meet the eye on first blush … or else I missed it on my first read-through. (Yeah, it happens! But if you’re up for more specifics then go ahead and read the minor spoilers above.) Where this one is heading I’ve certainly no idea; I suspect Rucka may not be able to keep up this pace (at some point, questions will have to be answered), but I’d definitely want to be here to watch as the ‘veils’ are pulled back and the secrets revealed.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with an advance reading copy of VEIL #1 (of 5) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.