What strange things creep in the night when anyone with common sense finds themselves in slumber? Something totally awesome it turns out as Nightworld gives us a peek into the shadows and shows us a world of lightness and humor, lost love and determination.
Plenilunio, our protagonist, is a creature of the night. We meet him as he awakens from his slumber to greet the full moon and the monsters it beckons. Then he shows off his sick flying squirrel cape that lets him glide through the air (despite the fact he can also just teleport). This night, Plenilunio has been accidentally summoned by an old man with a penchant for the occult and a loose grasp on ancient tongues. Meanwhile, a dude who looks rather satanish (but not Satannish) has his own plans set in motion. He has one of his agents of the afterlife take on Plenilunio (in mid-exposition) while another robs the old scholar of a mysterious tome with ties to all of our mysterious characters.
The art of Nightworld is so magnificently Kirbyesque. Paolo Leandri and Dominic Regan work together to create a book that hearkens back to the silver age in both style and tone. On Leandri's side (pencils, inks, letters, AND plot) the mix of normal and pseudo-psychedelic makes for an interesting dichotomy between the real world and the underworld. The best example of this comes from the panels with the big bad as he lounges around in his hell-like domain. There's plenty of fire and brimstone, but there are are also an abundance of winding lines that lead the eye all over the panel. The urn-vehicles that several of the the demons use look like something straight out of New Gods. Meanwhile, the real world is all dark castles and wide windows. While that's not the life most of us are used to, it is more familiar than pink grass and video-screens shaped like brains. The character design is equally strange and fantastic. Plenilunio looks like Nightcrawler and Etrigan fused into one night-stalking bad-ass. Helena, one of the evil demons, wears both a skintight red body suit, but also a toga and opera gloves. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but then, who's going to tell a demoness with a magic whip how to dress? Hotspot, another demon, wears a yellow-green tracksuit with little holes in the hood for his horns to poke through and his shoes have zig-zagging arrow/demon tails on the soles. Little details like that enhance the fun already apparent in the story.
Regan's colors work so in sync with Leandri's art that this book could have absolutely no words and it still would've been great. Though it takes place at night, as evidenced by the big full moon (and Plenilunio mentioning it several times), there is an overall lightness to the tone of the story. There are an abundance of blues and blacks, but even Plenilunio has a fair share of yellow in his costume. Even in the panels in the shadows, there's very clear definition of what's important. Then there are the scenes in the underworld which have the brightest colors of pink and orange. It's warm (duh) but not overly so. The pinks and lavenders of the underworld landscape just enforce the feeling of difference that the art has already established.
While the story is plotted by Leandri, the script itself is written by Steve McGovern. Though it's not as vibrant and alive as the artwork, McGovern does a well enough job giving the characters individual voices. Plenilunio's voice is the most persistent as he's both the narrator and and a character. Though he hints at melancholy in his narration, he's also kind of talkative and shares a lot about himself with the old man and his granddaughter. The big bad in the underworld has himself a bit of a humor. He makes puns about being evil in almost every line, and it is awesome. He's evil with a bit a flair and it comes out. We also have stern Helena and demon of few words Hotspot (though his one sentence does speak volumes to his character, “yo”). On the plot side of things, Leandri has set up an interesting story in this issue. It introduces a game of stakes and the main players taking part. We have our protagonist (damned as he may be) and his adversaries. Now all we have left to do is watch what happens.
This first issue of Nightworld has stayed true to its name and created a world of darkness and despair that can't help but make you smile. From the fantastic art to the overall story, the team of Leandri, McGovern, and Regan have given us a new and exciting look at the things that stalk the shadows and how they're actually pretty great. It's a love story disguised as a supernatural thriller and it melds together so well. This first issue promises an excellent series to follow and the only negative thing I can think to say is that it's sadly only five issues long. But I'd wager my soul to that cool looking underworld that the next four issues prove to be just as well done as this one.