cover image Smoke/Ashes


Alex de Campi, Igor Kordey et al. Dark Horse, $29.99 trade paper (424p) ISBN 978-1-616551-69-8

Living in a dystopian English future, up-and-coming reporter Katie Shah sneaks her way into a terrorist hostage situation to get a scoop, thereby becoming mixed up with albino assassin Rupert Cain. Collecting two miniseries into one graphic novel, this volume follows their rollicking adventures. The tales hit just the right balance between conspiratorial action and satiric social commentary, particularly the first book, with obese terrorists demanding liposuction; the second story, “Ashes,” has a more philosophical tone. While de Campi’s authorial voice comes through loud and clear, the second book suffers from the involvement of 14 artists splitting the chores, including Carla Speed McNeil, Colleen Doran, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Dan McDaid, the best of the bunch, who lends a lot of personality and ambience. While the first book benefits from the consistency of one artist, Kordey, even if the actual artwork isn’t that dynamic, the second finds the team grappling for uniformity in some spots (the albino Cain proves especially difficult), while in others highlighting the different styles for narrative effect. The squadron of artists tries hard, but the diversity of styles sometimes distracts from a strong script. (Oct.)