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"... Are you okay? What's wrong?"
"I can't say."
"Wait... where's her arm? What happened to you?"
"I... I can't say."
"It's been twenty-seven years, Dominic. Please. After all this time, show a mother some mercy. I have no hope. I just want to bury Solomon before they bury me."
"I can't... say... anything."
Construe Dominic's exact words how you will, but those of you who've read Alexis Deacon's GEIS may have a better clue than most.
Like MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES' Ed Brubaker, THE WICKED + THE DIVINE's Kieron Gillen is a master at directing a gripping tease of a trailer, here splicing Stephanie Hans' sequential art to deliver something sharp, slick and guaranteed to make you shiver.
Rather than typing out something less skilled, therefore, I present you instead with that very visual trailer below or, if you're reading this in the comicbook's product page, to your right.
All I will only add - because it's come up on the shop floor - that Kieron himself has already succinctly summarised the plot's premise as 'Goth Jumanji'. But you know what Kieron's like: he'll give you flippant, off-the -cuff distillations (so that you can make easily arrived-at associations) when he knows full well that what he has contrived is infinitely richer and broader in scope.
You've read the trailer, then...? Excellent!
So yes, two years after they first disappeared, five of the six role-players reappeared minus one arm and their games master, Solomon, he who had taken the single 20-sided die to play with himself. Obvious questions were asked. Where had they been? What had happened? And where was Solomon?
But... they couldn't say.
Brilliantly, after but two pages we immediately flash-forward another 25 years to the point where the former sixteen-year-olds are now all over forty. Some have married, some have divorced and one at least has found a certain degree of commercial success. Dominic and his sister Angela, not so much: they are tired, battle-wearied, and Stephanie Hans excels at depicting their exhaustion then the varying degrees or trepidation or congratulation when the five are forced once more to meet up.
They're forced to meet up because - while drinking down a London pub whose pavement outside is being lashed with rain - Dominic and Angela are presented with a package which the barman found on the doorstep. In it is a box, and within that box lies Solomon's prized D20, covered in blood.
The subsequent page outside the pub is one of Hans' most accomplished of so very many. The light at night emanating from the street lamps and closed retail outlets still blasting out come-look-at-me-luminosity cascades through the deluge onto the rain-soaked stone, and there is so much red carried over from the previous page's blood-bathed die. In spite of all that occurs later on, it is the most violent page in the comic, as Dominic attempts to [redacted]
Both impressionistic and expressionistic, it is a scene that will stay for you forever.
Likewise, I believe, a panel which I thankfully do have for you, but which I will decline from putting into any context whatsoever.
It bears all the neo-classical grandeur and majesty of a scene from PS4's 'God of War'. It's worth scanning the rich, lambent background for details, because in any other context like animation this glorious landscape would not be just a single-panel scene-setter, but the backdrop to so much more super-imposed art to follow.
Once more, a reminder that red features prominently.
But wait until you see what's become of the celestial body that is this Earth's spherical globe! Now that is a moment of pictorial genius.
I leave those of you reading Page 45's Weekly Reviews Blog with the first eight pages of what is undoubtedly going to be this year's most epic new release. Sales have so far exceeded any other first issue's here, and we're only one week in.