So, as I try to come to grips with the Ship of Shadows graphic novel that I am writing, I am trying to relearn many of the lessons about graphic storytelling by rereading my comic book collection that I amassed as a teen. Unfortunately, I weeded the collection down back in the late 90s/early 2000s and lost quite a few issues that would have been good to have. I kept what I considered were the essentials, however. So, I decided what better way to wrap my head around writing a graphic novel than by revisiting the comics that I so loved (yes, I know there are books like Scott McCloud’s seminal work on graphic novels–and I even own a couple–but what better way than to actually read the works that I’m trying to write and breakdown what those successful creators have done to really learn the form).
I’ve always liked the concept of Alien Legion ever since I first discovered it in a comic book spinner at Waldenbooks. The idea of a galactic Foreign Legion spoke to my inner child just coming off the high that was Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The characters are extremely captivating. I guess the parallel that I could make would be to have intergalactic Fast and Furious. Wait, I take that back–that’s not interesting at all, forget I said anything like that–that’s actually a very bad comparison (I say, as I hurriedly scribble down the idea to get it written before someone else does).
In all seriousness, it really is sort of like a “Dirty Dozen” in space. You have a group of alien soldiers, mostly humanoid, who go on missions. Being that this is an “Epic” imprint from Marvel (a “darker” imprint than normal Marvel comics published at the time), this allowed them to go into more adult territory. This particular issue is really unique as it deals with domestic violence and the effects that it has. Yes, this is told in such a way that it can be digested in a YA comic, but for 1986 and for a medium that was often marketed to children, this one deals with some pretty revolutionary issues for the time.
While the artwork is a little rough, it is still easy to read and follow the action. The actual dialogue and story is also well done–I like how it establishes each on of the main characters through action and dialogue. Captain Sarigar, a snake-like alien, is obviously the protagonist of the story, but I like how he involves two of the more hard-bitten Legionnaires in what is obviously a personal mission based on their reputations for being hard cases. The story is very well done (for all of the “heavy” themes) and illustrates the dangers of domestic violence, both physically and emotionally to the victim. For a comic book, it handles the subject matter surprisingly well and still manages to tell a strong story about a brother who, despite his obligations as a Captain in the Legion and a fierce warrior, only wants to protect his sister from an abusive boyfriend.
Overall Grade: B+
- Read Faerie Knight in the anthology Fae, Rhonda Parrish, Ed. or the Kindle Edition
- Read Ship of Shadows in the anthology Visions IV: Space Between Stars, Carrol Fix, Ed. or the Kindle Edition.
- Read WarLight in the anthology Visions VI: Galaxies, Carrol Fix, Ed. or the Kindle Edition.
- Read Dragonhawk in the magazine Tales of the Talisman, Vol. 8, Iss. 3, David Lee Summers, Ed. or the Kindle Edition.
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