Written by Charlie Stickney
Illustrated by Conor Hughes
Coloured by Fin Cramb
Well once again being a reviewer has its privileges because I received an email asking me to review this book. Once again I’m extremely glad that they did too because it is something that I think the market needs. It’s kind of a cross between Teen Wolf and Grimm for me as there’s this great element of discovering you heritage in all the wrong ways. There’s a great story here that is only just beginning and as an oversized first issue it does well to bring the reader into its world and make them want to stay.
White Ash is a town in Pennsylvania that’s primarily nothing more than coal miner town. I also like the way that Charlie takes his time to really show the reader the town here. From the candy coated outside to the rotten apple core inside we get to see just what life is like here. It also introduces us to Aleck a young man of nineteen who is finally realising his dream of going off to college which has produced some friction with his old man Gunther. It feels like typical small town in the middle of nowhere life the son leaving to better himself and the father a proud stubborn man who is both of and wishes his son would stay.
The characterisation here is spectacular as Charlie weaves in and out of Aleck’s final moments in town. This serves another purpose as well as we get to meet Aleck’s friends and the people in town who are seemingly going to be important to the story. We also meet his former employer, Mr. Thane Alden who happens to own the mine and pretty much the town as well. While the rich guy antagonist might be a little cliché so is meeting his daughter Lillian who straddles the whole looking for a good guy from the wrong side of the tracks. So you know that there’s going to be some kind of romance or attempted romance between the two like star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet.
Conor manages to straddle the line here as well with the whole CW vibe of young good looking characters, Aleck with his shirt off and Lillian almost ogling. The way he’s laid out the pages and uses angles and perspective are really rather well done and then there are actual backgrounds utilised as well which makes me a happy camper. I like the way he’s able to show us what we need to see and from the viewpoints that he decides to focus on, and the fact that there might be a few characters whose intentions are good but suspect.
So life is about to change for everyone in the town and it may not be like anyone is expecting that to go down. If you paid attention to the opening then you’ll understand a bit of what’s going to happen. Only a bit though because in all honesty I couldn’t have seen this coming but you just knew something was going to happen with it. So the interconnectivity of all things here is something that you don’t expect to see and yet feels as natural as a bubbling brook stumbled upon deep in the woods. It’s literally the last thing you expect and yet rejoice once it’s found.
I do like the atmosphere that we see before and after the big event here. I also like Aleck’s uncle who is featured prominently here and his bachelor lifestyle, which is anyone’s guess what that really may be, and his dislike for kids and the Aldens. Though to be honest I love that no one bothers to tell Aleck about why. There are mysterious that abound in the small mining town of White Ash and it looks like those mysteries are going to be revealed. A little bit at a time possibly but certainly not all at once, that would be information overload.
The way this story is structured and the ebb & flow of what we see here is pretty exceptional stuff. From the introduction, to getting the reader to understand the town, the mine and the denizens of this sleepy little hollow it all has purpose and meaning to it beyond what’s on the surface. Also Charlie does more than an adequate job in making us like the characters, feel like we’re invested in what happens to them.
The feel is very now and with nothing like it currently on stands or broadcast on television this fills a much needed hole. With excellent storytelling, interesting characters and whole lot what the hell is going on this should be on your radar. Once again it’s the self-published that makes more of an impact for me than anything else.
The book may be purchased online at Whiteashcomic.com.