All-New Soulfire #1 (Aspen)


Rating: 3.5 – Michael Turner inspired art, definitely worth your $1.

All New Soulfire #1 is the last of Aspen’s 10 for 10 debuts for 2013, their 10th anniversary of publishing.  I’ve praised Aspen for this program before, I’m a huge fan of any publisher (and they are not the only one) who removes price as a barrier to entry in trying a new series.  Here we have their 10th new full length #1 of the year that fans can try for a buck, hopefully your LCS will have copies so you can give it a look.

Soulfire is one of Aspen’s longest-lived properties, it debuted back in 2003, the story of Maliki, a boy who is chosen to bring back magic to the world of 2211, and Grace, the winged woman from the kingdom of Empyrea (who is the most recognizable image associated with the series) who is the one who chose Maliki for his quest.  Maliki is assisted by his friends Sonia, PJ, and Benoist.  They struggle against Rainier, the dark lord of technology who is allied against them to prevent the full-blown return of magic.  That’s the backstory in brief, you may also want to check out the Soulfire Wiki page for a little better understanding of the setting, characters, and world before diving in.

The artist V Ken Marion has an art style clearly inspired by Aspen founder and Soulfire creator Michael Turner, so if you’re a fan of Turner’s art, you should like the art here.  You get digital inks from Mark Roslan & some really stunning coloring from Mark Ritter.  I really liked the look of this book, it’s beautiful.  The story is by JT Krul who 1st helped on writing with Michael Turner on Soulfire #3 back in 2005.

People who are already familiar with the characters and setting will no doubt dive right into this with no problem.  My main issue was that the story didn’t flow for me as completely self-contained within the covers of this #1 issue, as a new reader.  After I did some digging around the internet to better understand the backstory I appreciated it a LOT more.  There’s a small blurb inside the front cover (in a very small type-face) that give a brief overview of the backstory but I was left a bit confused at the end.  After reading the Wiki I went back and appreciated the issue a LOT more.  One thing Aspen could have done for this issue would have been to lose the listing of all the variant covers on the inside of the front cover (sticking that in the back of the book) and really beefing up the recap of what has gone before and who the various characters are.  This would have helped defuse the “walked into the middle” syndrome for me.

I’ve come to be captivated by the story, characters, and world, but this issue could have done a better job of inviting me in.  Despite this flaw, I’d still strongly advise giving the Wiki a read and then diving into this $1 debut to see if you like it.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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