Rating: 5/5 – A Fabulous Supernatural NYC That Felt Authentic From Start to Finish.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.
Writer Chris Miskiewicz knows NYC and it comes across in the story of Thomas Alsop, the “Hand of the Island”. The Island is Manhattan and being the Hand means he is it’s mystical protector. The conceit of the series is that if the Island falls, the the World soon follows. Save the Island, Save the World. A pretty New York-centric view that NYC is the most important place on the planet that tracks with the attitude of a lot of New Yorkers I’ve met, but I’ve been to NYC and it’s a pretty fabulous city, so I’ll give them this premise and just roll with it.
The Alsop family has been protecting the Island for hundreds of years and I was constantly entertained by featured talismans and supernatural weapons from the “Alsop Family Armory” (mostly created by ancestor Richard Alsop) that would be introduced and used throughout the series. Fabulous creativity displayed by Miskiewicz on a sustained basis that fleshed out the world this series is set in and made it seem all the more real to me. The world-building on display throughout the series was probably my favorite aspect of the story Miskiewicz & Schmidt were telling and it makes me look forward to more Thomas Alsop in the future. The plethora of interesting characters, human and supernatural, as well as flashbacks to snippets of events with past members of the Alsop family served to enhance the feeling of something so much larger than a single story-line.
The series itself could be considered somewhat controversial as it deals with the 9/11 tragedy head on. The souls of the ~3000 people who died in the terrorist attack are trapped at Ground Zero and Alsop needs to free them by the 10th anniversary of their death. Too soon to have this subject in a story? That question is handled head-on during the series as the David Letterman stand-in bans Alsop from his show and Alsop takes all kinds of negative press and hostility from New Yorkers for seeming to be using the 9/11 event as a publicity stunt. As readers we know it’s not a stunt, he has a genuine concern about freeing the souls of the victims.
In and amongst the action Miskiewicz handles the 9/11 subject in what I felt was a totally appropriate fashion while weaving an entertaining yarn along the way. Taken out of context of the entire series, issue #8 opens in the most insensitive light possible at the 10th anniversary ceremony where Alsop shows up all flash and bluster. He needs people talking about him, hating him even. Those emotions will fuel his spell to do what needs to be done. As he points out: “If I didn’t do it, who would?” The conclusion to the series was spot on for me, including a heart-wrenching revelation for Alsop himself that really touched me. And Palle Schmidt’s art… I love the painted style and color pallet he brings to the book, the facial expressions and body language, the key splashes in this issue, all of them really hit a sweet spot for my ‘art appreciation sense’ here.
Issue #8 was a solid conclusion to an outstanding series, perfectly balancing humor, action, drama, and emotion. It gets the strongest recommendation from me. It may be hard to find all the individual issues at this point if you’ve not been following this along the way, but they’re all “in stock” as digital issues on Comixology for those who like reading comics that way. For those of us who prefer reading the dead trees version of stories, a trade paperback collection of the series will be along soon. Keep an eye out for it. At the end it’s mentioned this is not the end for Thomas Alsop. Whether it will continue in comic book form is up in the air, but I hope there is more, I’ll be back to read it if these creators produce it.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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