Story and Pencils: Shane Davis
Colors: Morry Hollowell
Axcend is a slow moving story, one that feels a bit depressed and disconnected. The cover leads you to believe you are in for a classic superhero tale, things blowing up, villains robbing banks, the whole trope-filled nine yards.
Writer-artist Shane Davis instead composes a character driven narrative in which we follow in the shoes of a young boy, fighting through the frustrating transition from high school to the next stage. His life is mired in tragedy, Eric Morn is a character who all but floats through life.
Characters are introduced and fade away in this opening arc, but it only emphasizes the lonely lens through which our narrative is told.
Our protagonist finds escape in games. As I was reading this, I instantly groaned. It felt like a weak plot point and our heroism is basically scrawled out in the World of Warcraft, but it's realistic. Escape is more than drugs and alcohol, and in Eric Morn, creator Shane Davis casts a plausibly depressed adolescent figure, and an even more practical avenue for escape.
On the visual front, Shane Davis does a pretty impressive job of world building. The characters are all unique, the pencil work uniformly impressive and well done. The art is several steps past solid, the facial expressions alone coming off as very clean and incredibly well composed.
Round this out with keen color work done by Morry Hollowell and you really have a very beautiful book. The pages pop, even those a bit more mundane in purpose.
Now the first issue does end with a modest cliffhanger. I am still not certain if this is meant to be a tale of capes and spandex or not, but it holds a bit of promise.
In summation, it is kind of a slow read, but this creates an aura of sadness. Some cape type stuff happens, but very sparsely and largely in a virtual world. It is a good emotional opening to a story I knew literally nothing about going in. Visually, I don't know a great deal of Shane Davis' work, but I think I will take note from here on out. It is a very pretty book. Slap on some impressive colors and voila, lovely visuals abound.