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Hum Paperback – May 25, 2009
In one of Warren Ellis s wonderful column series Come in Alone, he comments astutely on the great irony of Image Comics and the exodus of talent by MacFarlane, Lee, Liefeld, Valentino, Silvestri and co. from Marvel and DC to their own creative landscape. A publisher where their imagination would no longer be hindered by a lust for big bucks and a fear of venturing outsides the comic medium s established market. Of course, this creator-lead drive ultimately gave birth to Spawn, Shadowhawk, WILDCats, Cyberforce and (ugh) Youngblood; second-rate facsimiles of the mainstream titles those guys had fled from, betrayed not by a want for imagination or artistic ability but a complete lack of balls. So why am I rambling on about something completely unconnected from the book I m supposed to be reviewing? Because Hum, the new book by screenwriter Scott Diablo Marcano and Tom Lenoci, and illustrated by Renzo Podesta, manages to succeed where so many independently published titles fail. These guys have crafted an intelligent tale that caters to the accustomed comic book science fiction and fantasy market without ever feeling complacent or uninspired. It s a rich, unfeigned sci-fi tale that doesn t attempt to grab your interest with colourful but shallow characters that feel as though they were designed solely with action figures and animated series in mind. This is a difficult book to discuss without delving deeper and stumbling into spoiler territory. Probably the most impressive thing about Hum is how Marcano and Lenoci introduce their cast without forcing explanation or back-story upon us. Many of the locations and plot devices remain unnamed, and the Marcano and company depict is one that isn t burgeoned by techno-babble or the need to slap industrial innovation on every page. The book s pacing feels effortless; the script never forces the specifics of this universe upon us, but rather allows its characters to speak for themselves. Vol s dreams fill in the gaps at regular points, and though you ll be confused for much of Hum s first act you ll never be bored. Unsurprising as Marcano has worked in films for years, Hum reads very much like a film script; he and Podesta use dialogue sparingly, never undermining the pace with an unnecessary narrator. There are some great ideas present; the village punishes its criminals by refusing to acknowledge that they exist, while Vol s eyesight is viewed (no pun intended) by the blind as an impairment. I felt that Vol s manipulative, twisted brother Rom could perhaps have been expanded upon; compared alongside the rest of the superbly realised cast he almost fits into the two-dimensional villain role a little bit too willingly. Renzo Podestas art is striking, and though he was clearly on a strict schedule his economically stylised character designs possess a distinctively jagged quality. His work often has a texture to it, showcased in the impressive colour scenes which represent Vol s drug-induced dream state. Never does Hum feel like a routine introduction to a bigger, better sequel, as similar works might, but a visual and cerebral experience that is hard to compare to any other work in the comic medium. The book's conclusion is especially memorable, wrapping up all of the story s themes without leaving you feeling like it could have been handled in any other way. --holycr4p.com
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Marcano has written several graphic novels, and here teaming with Lenoci he has forged a wondrous and thoughtful elegy. Vol is an addict, given a life or death ultimatum by his twisted brother Rom only to find a more convincing reason to stray from his brother's will. Namely, his own will, which is found through Lum, a beautiful slave turned leader among the villagers. Her people's livelihoods may well be threatened again from the same city-dwellers who had enforced brutal slavery for a full millennium. Led of course, by Vol's brother Rom. Vol is faced with some hard decisions to delve through, with a great cast of fully-developed characters pulling him to and fro. Like a Shakespearean drama but without the whimsy. What is sacrifice? What rates retribution? Who are we, and what are we even doing here anyway? These questions and more Vol has to find answers for himself, and before another war breaks out.
Podesta has quietly been illustrating some of the prettiest and more inventive indie books of recent years, and here his style is so fresh.Read more ›