Writing, Art, & Colors by Dwayne Robinson, Jr., Letters by Terence Young
In this small-publishing effort by A.C.E., college football quarterback Michael Vash discovers his family and his life are not what they seem. The opening pages realistically depict plays at the end of an exciting football contest, where it is established that even though his team doesn't have a winning record, Michael is a warrior who refuses to lose the last game of the season.
For most of the remaining pages, we get to know Michael and his circle of friends and family, especially his girlfriend Melissa, and his mother, who has a troubled past and personal demons that have been kept in check by medications that she is now only pretending to take. She tells Michael something big is going to happen to him on his birthday, a transformation that runs in the family. Michael plays it off as more crazy-talk.
It may seem like way too many pages are devoted to Michael and Melissa sitting around and talking, but it helps us know Michael that much more, and actually care about what happens to him at the end of the issue more than we would have otherwise.
The dialogue seems a little stiff at times, and characters use unusual words like “quell”, but overall, people react to situations in a real-world manner and the conversations are believable enough.
The art is solid, more illustrative rather than cartoony, with figures, faces, and hands drawn in a very anatomically correct way, lending realism to the story. Panels are not perfect rectangles, and layouts are creatively varied, lending a casual feel to the pages. Black page backgrounds are wisely used to help separate the colorless panels and make them pop off the page.
One could easily think this is a black-and-white comic, since that's how the first 16 pages of this issue are presented, with gray tones occasionally used for backgrounds. However, this lack of color serves as a visual metaphor: as exciting and interesting as Michael’s life has been up to this point, it’s about to get a lot more vibrant (like Dorothy opening the door into Oz). As Michael’s birthday party begins, and a full moon rises, the pages start to gain color, becoming more and more saturated as his family legacy fully manifests.
In a bit of dramatic fourth-wall-breaking, Michael slashes the comic page itself, as his mother appears, now also transformed, and promises to explain everything.
Like any comic from first-time creators, the issue has expected rough edges: the cover's NIGHTFALL font is difficult to read against the moon, some obvious cloning of figures in the establishing stadium scene, misspellings, and a word balloon pointing to the wrong character, but as small-press publications go, this one is a solid, entertaining effort, well worth your time and money. It will be interesting to see where Michael’s story goes from here.
For Nightfall #1-2 and other titles from A.C.E., visit www.animationcomicsent.com