SBI Press 2019
Written by Ben Kahn
Illustrated by Bruno Hidalgo
Colour Assists by James Penafiel
Lettered by Sal Cipriano
Captain Layla Gryffen dedicated their life to the Sovereign Reach. A veteran of missions on a dozen worlds, they were the pride of humanity. Six months ago, they disappeared at the edge of the galaxy. One week ago, they returned….….….
It really is a shame that SBI doesn’t get nearly the coverage it deserves. I’d love to work with them regularly, I think they have some really great stuff out there. This one was sent to me and I said I would check it out which is a blessing because I love that people like me and trust me enough that they want me to review their work. I’m so happy that this one found it’s way to me because I love a good space rooted story and something of a mysterious one at that.
The opening is sensational. I have no idea why Layla would find themselves in what appears to be some kind of trial but there are plenty of clues that Ben leaves us. Even without the diatribe that we hear, which is something I recommend every single one of you to read because it’s that amazingly well done, but with Bruno by their side we get some stellar characterisation here. I really am impressed with not only the way this is structured but by the characterisation as well. Ben has found this exceptionally fun rhythm that is able to keep the story & plot development and it’s pacing moving forward almost effortlessly while the characters take centre stage.
The way that we are introduced to this reality and to those who reside within is done so that we are given the rare opportunity to really see just what these people seem to be about. From the work that these two do I see a society based on people in power not caring about anything but themselves and making sure they stay in power. They don’t want anyone coming along to upset the status quo and here comes the judge, for those who know Laugh In! There is a sense of humour happening here that comes in the form of crazy, the fed up you don’t listen to me, I am sick of tired of being ignored, crazy. Which comes across as funny as hell too.
It should come as no surprise at how well the interiors compliment the writing as Bruno has worked with Ben quite a few times now. These two make a helluva team that’s for damn sure. I love the way that Bruno’s style can go from chaotic to neutral to this clean crisp representation, and still make a man’s chin look like a ball-sac. The way he is able to create the mood and atmosphere and individuality of each character should be commended. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show this really good, solid eye for storytelling. We see some nice utilisation of backgrounds here, would I like to see more oh yeah but what we do get really does flesh out the scenes and bring a size and scope to the book. The colour work here is nice as well. Funny how prison jumpsuits are always orange. I like the way shading is utilised and the various colour of the skin that we see. I’d like to see more colour gradation but with this style it works the way it is.
I had a wonderful time reading this one folks. There is a nice intelligence behind the writing and they really get this inherent understanding of balance seriousness and black humour. Put this really strong writing alongside these interiors and this is what the new dynamic duo looks like to me. Every time these two have an outing together I see this growth and maturity to the work that makes me want to see more from them so get your hands on this and enjoy some high quality work.