Gravel: Combat Magician #0 (Avatar)


Rating: 4/5 – Great intro to magical ass-kicker William Gravel.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

Sgt. Major William Gravel is not a man to mess around with.  Think of the baddest ass SAS soldier out there, only he can use magic as adeptly as firearms or knives.  It’s just another weapon in his arsenal of mayhem.  The character was created by Warren Ellis in 1999 for the mini-series Strange Kiss, with artist Mike Wolfer.  Gravel continued on through 5 more mini-series and 21 issues of the series “Gravel” with Ellis/Wolfer.

Wolfer takes over full writing duties with this issue, but he’s got a really solid grasp on the character after 45 issues.  He was credited with “Script assist” as of the 3rd mini series and full script credits starting in the Gravel self-named series.   New artist Gabriel Rearte does a solid job on the visuals in this issue that has the feel of the before-credits sequence in a James Bond movie.  Gravel is on a mission to take out a pretty evil guy, and he puts all the weapons at his disposal to good use in carrying out that mission.

A nice feature for readers new to the character is the “Gravel Combat Log” in the back of the book that summarizes every single issue to date, covering all of Gravel’s allies, villains, and battles.  There’s a bit of a production gaffe and the pages are presented out of order, though, so skip forward to the 10th page and start with “Strange Kiss”.  From there read to the end (Gravel #3) then flip back to the first page featuring Gravel #4.   This error aside, this issue is a superb intro to the character and provides a LOT of reading for the $4.99 cover price.  Not for the squeamish, but most people figured that out from the Avatar logo on the cover.  Nevertheless, if you like hard R-rated action mixed with some fantasy elements (magic), this is a great series that you should give a try.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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