Page 45 Review by Stephen
Big fat, omnibus edition of the little pocketbooks of joy from the creator of all-ages AKIKO and the seasonal MIKI FALLS. This collects all six slimmer black and white volumes and some full-colour short stories which I imagine originally appeared in DARK HORSE PRESENTS, online or otherwise.
It also collects the various annotations which were substantial and will be of enormous use to nascent creators, being considerable and considered process pieces involving the development of certain looks, concepts, characters and confrontations - particularly the confrontations! Vitally Crilley supplies the alternative art which was later ditched in favour of what was finally printed so you can compare and contrast. When you get to it, the observation that rounded corners turned what looked inescapably like a dull function room into a dramatically extended tunnel is spot-on.
There's a shift in art style since MIKI FALLS (and obviously AKIKO!) for he's gone all Chynna Clugston on us. The hair is feathery and brightly grey-toned art is crisp as crisp can be. Space, there is aplenty
Crilley's always had an epic sense of space and texture, and the dilapidated city - whose sky is snaked with girdered monorails and concrete overpasses that are mossed-over with shops and hoardings - is no exception. There'll be plenty more where that came from. The equally decrepit Japanese temple is a wonder as well but, apart from that, Crilley keeps the pages free from clutter for maximum action and turning.
Brody is broke. A part-time busker, he's taken being a slob to a professional extreme. And maybe the hunger's got to him because after a game of blink with a pretty young lady in the ramen noodle van opposite him, the girl makes her move... right through its roof!
I cannot tell you how well weighted that extended, silent sequence is: immaculate choreography, immaculate timing. It has to be: it's the entire hook for the following five hundred and fifty + pages. That, and his dumbstruck disbelief and her dumbfounded disappointment that - having waited for over five years - Brody is what she's been lumbered with.
So it's match postponed until Brody can pick his jaw off the floor. It may take some time because so far he's run a mile, and even tried to lock Talia out of a staff room.
"I go through stuff, Brody. I thought we'd established that."
In some ways the dry disdain put me in mind of Terry Moore, some of whose characters secrete sass through their skin. Add in Talia's lapsed relationship with the land of the living and RACHEL RISING is a very fine fit.
"Let's get this over with. I'm Talia. I've been dead for about five years now.
"Very depressing story. Don't make me go into it.
"All you need to know is this.
"I'm locked out of heaven.
"They say I can't move on to the afterlife until I've done, like, a super good deed."
The mission she has chosen to accept for herself is to identify, track town and stop the Penny Murders serial killer, but for one thing physically disabling someone isn't so easy when your hands are intangible. That's where Brody comes in if he can stop freaking out. Not only can do the physical stuff, but he's evidently something of a psychic given what he's witnessing right now. And that's what Talia needs:
"Someone who's capable of seeing ghosts... hearing ghosts... and talking to ghosts."
"Obviously we're still working on the "talking" part."
With five hundred and fifty pages still to go, what have I failed to fill you in on?
Well, when the truth about the Penny Murders Serial Killer is finally revealed hundreds of pages later - the initial catalyst followed by her or his subsequent (consequent?) motivations - it makes a chilling sort of sick sense.
Talia may look like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth but you try being disembodied for five years and being unable to affect or effect anything. This is her one chance and what she'll be prepared to put Brody through you will not believe. I can promise you this: she doesn't bluff.
Also, Brody's mourning a death of his own - that of his two-year-relationship with Nicole. It's been over for six months but Brody, like Talia, cannot move on and with Nicole dating again I'm afraid Brody's in very great danger of making matters worse.
His psychic skills will need honing, hence the haunted Japanese temple, as will his aptitude for combat because he's just has his ass kicked by a gang's pet twelve-year-old.
Oh, and his morals will almost certainly need diluting because Talia is lying to his face about many things. Here's one for a start:
Talia emphatically did not die of leukaemia.