A review of Kurtis Wiebe's latest Image series!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Story by:Kurtis J Wiebe
Art By:Aluisio Santos
A brand new series from the mind of critically acclaimed writer KURTIS J. WIEBE (GREEN WAKE, PETER PANZERFAUST), GRIM LEAPER is a gory romantic comedy. Lou Collins is caught in a cyclical curse of violent, gruesome deaths and new beginnings in the bodies of strangers. With no clue why, Lou desperately searches for a way to break the curse and cross over peacefully to the other side. Then equally doomed Ella comes along. It's a love story to die for.
So it's like this: Boy dies, but keeps coming back, apparently to meet (the) Girl. Boy finally meets (the) Girl, but Girl dies. But that's ok, because Girl keeps coming back to life too. Problem is, each new life is short and in a new person's identity. That's Grim Leaper #1 in a nutshell, kind of a Quantum-Leap-for-Love. Except that I have no idea why I want to read more of this: there's no real set up of the conflict (we just get to the 'chasing the girl leaper' at the end) not to mention no promise of how the story might resolve. And, based on the blurb for #2, there's a dark force at play here as well, even though there is no hint of it in the first issue.
The problem, I think, is that the writer allows too many pages for what I might call 'color commentary.' The story opens with the lead character (who I'll still call "Boy' as his name changes with new identities) attending a funeral, trying to pick up a girl. The art & coloring suggest that the girl is indicated to him somehow, but as one might expect, picking up a girl at a funeral doesn't work too well. After an unlikely death, the next "leap" takes Boy into a guy on a dating reality show. This scene seems to have little to do here other than to suggest that dating reality shows are cynical and unrealistic, and I'm still unsure why it was in the issue. After being thrown off the show, Boy goes to a bar and sees Girl, who is also (almost) killed in an unlikely manner.
This must mean Girl is also under whatever curse that causes Boy's serial death-and-return, either because the plot requires it or because Boy has some insight that isn't really explained (or even in) the story. After comparing notes, Girl dodges another death but then gets taken by an open manhole cover, with Boy vowing that he's now in love (and presumably, off to find a way to follow Girl.) This is followed by a back-up riff/parody of a romance story where two commuters finally find one another by crashing their cars into each other (no, neither dies.)
Other than the slight romance connection, I have no idea how the back-up relates to the main story. It's a cute story, but it also comes off as page-filler. That's the real problem I had with this first issue- too many pages used on off-plot commentary, and not enough pages showing me what the actual story is or why I should come back next month.
The art is decent, an animated style with a nice heavy line that the artist uses to convey emotion and reactions well. It veers a little too far into the cartoony in spots, but uses that style well enough when depicting graphic deaths like decapitation by truck tire. The coloring, as I mentioned above, is also nice, using a limited, muted palette to draw attention to things and actions of note in the story. In fact, I think the art does a better job of telling the story than the words do, something I don't see all that often.
Bottom Line: If the premise I laid out at the start interests you, check out the art and see if this book is for you. I can't say much as to story, because other that the older stories/series it riffs on, I don't know what that is yet.
Review by: BD Montgomery