Travelling Man's Blog


Review: Thomas Alsop Issue 1 by Travelling Man

Written by Chris Miskiewicz

Art by Palle Schmidt

Lettering by Deron Bennett

Cover by Palle Schmidt

Published by Boom!

£2.85 or £1.99 with that ancestral SuperCard Go! left for you by the wisdom of your predecessors.

 

Thomas Alsop is a frequently drunk, occasionally guitar-playing, smoking urban mage.

Hellblazer fans, I can hear you grumbling. Stand down. Or…sacrifice every ounce of happiness to save the world knowing full well everyone will hate you until the never ending cycle starts over again. Whichever works best.

Miskiewicz’s opening issue tackles every comparison between it’s lead and John Constantine head on and makes the similarities both an asset and something to push against. The character type is familiar but the way in which Miskewicz approaches him is very different. For a start, Thomas is a media sensation and knows it. He lives the life he lives as much because he can as because he wants to. The debauchery is both a side effect of the fame and a coping mechanism for the horror. It’s an interesting idea and one I’ve seen a few titles play with recently. This one does it best, by a good margin.

Then there’s the historical aspect. The script cleverly walks us through two separate origin stories, one for Thomas, one for Richard, his ancestor. Both men live in New York and Richard, we find out, was the first Alsop to be called. This is where Miskiewicz gets really clever, establishing the idea that the Alsop family are the Hand of the Island, chosen to defend New York from dark forces. They meet, briefly, in the centre of the issue and the entire script pivots around that scene with grace and real sweetness. Two different men, two different takes on the same fictional idea and one family. It’s a really smart idea that suggests the story will unfold in both time periods. I certainly hope so, especially given what the art does when the focus shifts to Richard Alsop.

Schmidt’s art is lovely throughout, reminiscent of Matthew Dow Smith in the shading, characterization and slightly impressionistic approach to character. It’s also fiercely versatile, the colour palette shifting from urban yellows and reds to a subtle monochrome as the story moves back in time. There’s also a keen eye for the iconic image, with Richard every inch the old west Preacher figure in appearance if not demeanor. Bennett’s lettering works really well too, and there’s one panel in particular where that, and Schmidt’s art, combine to create an image that’s iconic, minimalistic and gives you a sense of just how much power Richard Alsop has. It’s intelligent, versatile art and an integral part of why the story works so well.

 

This is a sharp, confident opening issue that takes every trope you expect it to and turns them all on their head. The art is gorgeous, the central premise is great and elegantly handled and the script fizzes with the same confidence Thomas convinces himself he has. One of the best horror comics on the shelves right now. Seek it out.

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