Out of the ashes of bankruptcy and cancellation, CrossGen has risen again! Thanks to Disney’s original purchase of the entire CrossGen Entertainment library, then later, Disney’s purchase of Marvel Entertainment, the stars aligned and CrossGen has become a new imprint (of sorts) to Marvel Comics. The first title to be released, and re-imagined, is Sigil. So… How did it hold up to the ideal of CrossGen? Let’s find out shall we?
Young Samantha Rey is a teenage girl with some problems. At school, she’s bullied by a gang of scheming and catty girls, she hardly can make it on time to classes, she’s often zoned out during class, and her grades are slipping badly. At home, she and her father are tried to keep their lives together after the death of Sam’s mother. If that stuff isn’t enough, Sam has recurring dreams of a creepy old man in a creepy old mansion and her latest zone outs during school hours whisks her away to a magical land of pirates and battles on the high seas. It appears that these trips to the pirate ship “El Cazador” are taking place during times of great stress. Once she transported there while starting to take a very important history exam and the other as she’s chased and nearly caught by bullies. Could these dreams and trips to a place that seem to be familiar with her and her mother have anything to do with the weird birthmark on her chest?
I’m just going to throw this out there so I can move past it… This is not at all like the sci-fi, ultra-action type of story that the original Sigil was. The names of the main character and the title of the book are similar, but unless this is some sort of pre-cursor to the events of the original book, don’t expect anything like what existed before. That being said, please don’t think I’m just going to sit here and compare the two titles for the whole review because that’s a waste of both mine and your time. Now that this disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get to the book!
Mike Carey is the writer of the series, and I believe he’s done his homework on the CrossGen Universe. Carey is a particularly good craftsmen when it comes to the slow build in a story. He was responsible for a mini-series that I liked a lot called Neverwhere and I do think he’s built a solid foundation for this six-part arc. He’s made Sam accessible, likable, and, despite gender, relatable. Sometimes, when you are starting from scratch, the first thing you have to do is give the reader/audience someone they can feel connected to and, without a doubt, Carey has done that with Sam. We’ve all had our bullies and our troubles in school and those moments where we disconnect like Sam. Maybe we haven’t gone through the same things in our lives as she has, but she’s dealing with stuff at a tender age that we’ve dealt with. However, as good as Sam is as a character to like, Carey’s really done something else with this book that simply made it fun.
Being a big fan of CrossGen during it’s original publishing days, I found myself feeling very, for a lack of a better word, comfortable while reading this first issue. It is my first taste of this universe in six years, but I immediately felt as though it never went anywhere. As I turned the pages, I knew right away she was landing on El Cazador. The old man in her dreams looks an awful lot like the villain Ilahn from Meridian. Even the bullies had a familiar look about them that made me wonder if their looks were pulled from other characters in the old CrossGen Universe. Visually, the setting and the time frame was not the same as the original Sigil, but there was an overwhelming sense of familiarity with the characters. Even the opening page gave you sense that CrossGen never went away, but stepped back and reinvented itself. This recognition of some of the characters and settings helped dull the initial shock of the change in setting from the original title and almost confronted what many will already feel about those changes.
Leonard Kirk’s art is really beautiful. Sam’s drawn very pretty to keep our focus, but she’s still given a softer, more realistic feel to her. She’s the girl we all knew in high school. The girl we all were friends with, had a lot of fun with, but ultimately looked over for the more flashy, “unattainable” popular girl. It’s a great connection made between Kirk’s visuals of Sam to Carey’s characterization of her. Kirk’s frames go from being interesting to downright eye catching. There’s not one frame in the entire book that feels like it just connects one to the next or lacks anything of appeal.
In the end, I had a hard time rating this one. I’m not really let down in any sense of the phrase. I was very excited for this week and next with both Sigil and Ruse returning to comic shops. In no way was I thrown off by this story being so different from what came before, but I can’t help but to admit that the thoughts were there. This isn’t Samadahl Rey and this character isn’t fighting alien lizards in some long standing war. That’s okay, though. I still like what I found in the pages. If there was anything I could say I was surprised, or maybe even disappointed, with it’s the lack of anything remotely mature about the story. CrossGen’s books were very suitable for mid-teens to older. This book almost feels like it’s appealing to a younger audience. I expected a little less in the way of the everyday teenager problems at home, in the classroom, and with bullies in the hallways, but not terribly disappointed. Maybe the best way to put this is that the book exists on a good foundation and, if you excuse the cliched phrase, simply is what it is.
I guess the best thing I can say here is that I’m definitely in for the long haul, but I’m really not sure how much of the CrossGen Universe we’ll see. El Cazador promises to be a nice adventure, but does the typical Earthbound teenager going too far outside the whole idea of CrossGen? We’ll wait and see…
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Very nice characterization and art – especially for Sam. Very comfortable feeling seeing how some of the characters are inspired by some of the originals from CrossGen.||Going to stay in ‘wait and see’ mode. A little younger audience that I really expected, but we’ll see how everything comes together down the line.|