Book of the week 31: Severed #1

The theme of the my comic book reading this week was the number one. Besides a one-shot and a few books that did not fit in theme, I read ten number one issues. Let’s just say it’s a good warming up for DC’s September reboot. I’m really glad with my selection of books this week, many high scores and even a solid 10 in Severed #1. Also I’m delighted with the selection of different publishers books I’ve sampled this week, ranging from IDW, Dynamite, DC, Image, Abstract Studio, Marvel to SLG.

1. Severed #1 (Image comics)

The cover to Severed #1, with art by Attila Futaki, published by Image comics.

The cover to Severed #1, with art by Attila Futaki, published by Image comics.

I had not heard anything about this title before hand and went in without any expectations (except for expecting Scott Snyder to deliver one hell of a story). It was while looking at the cover though, that I first started to fall in love with this book. The cover explicitly channels the look of the eighties horror movie posters I’ve grown up with. Furthermore, a great design element on the cover is the use of the art nouveau-ish decorative borders (coincidentally also used in the Snyder co-plotted Batman: Gates of Gotham miniseries), which even incorporate the logo of Image comics.

The first thing that struck me, when I opened the book, was the color. The first scene is a flash-forward, (technically the rest of the book is a flashback, but whatever…) set in or around the nineteen sixties, which is most apparent (besides the television performance of Elvis and the distinctive furniture) by the orange hue of the living room wallpaper. In the following flashback, which takes place in 1916, the scenes all have their own color palate, which doesn’t pop off the page as does the first sequence, but are still very vibrant and dashing to look at.

Popping colors by Attilla Futaki, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

Popping colors by Attilla Futaki, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

The second thing that stood out to me where the pencils, I’ve never seen the work of artist Attila Futaki before, and I’ve never seen anything like it. In fact, the art felt so new to me, that I had to warm up to it a few pages before I started loving it. I’d say it’s a bit painterly, yet has a very classic aesthetic which harkens back to the more detailed and loose art styles that could be found in old EC comics. As it turns out Futaki is a Hungarian artist, who has recently been awarded the Hungarian Zorad Erno award for best artist of 2010. Judging by the art in this issue, that prize was well deserved. It’s a really unique style and perfect to set the mood for this horror series.

Here's Jack, waiting to get on the train to begin his Hobo life. Art from Severed #1, by AttillaFutaki, published by Image comics.

Here's Jack, waiting to get on the train to begin his Hobo life. Art from Severed #1, by AttillaFutaki, published by Image comics.

Writing-wise the first sequence, set in the sixties, is used as a rather cliché framing device to set the story up. However, since this story seems to be steeped in eighties horror movies, certain clichés are just part of the territory and in that context work like a charm.  In the first few pages of the flashback we get to know Jack, a talented violin player in his early teens, who after a heartfelt and good-humored bedtime conversation with his mother runs off into the night to live the life of a hobo. “See the country… Play the streets for nickels…” He wants to walk in the minstrel footsteps of his father. Things almost immediately go haywire. But at least he meets up with some hobo’s who may or may not be helping him out. We also get introduced to Fredrick who is taken out of an orphanage by one mister Porter, who is likely to be the villain throughout this series. And what a classic villain he is. Porter is introduced as working for General Electric and Frederick has been selected for an apprenticeship at his company. In the car the boy and Mr. Porter talk about business. When the boy asks about Porter’s rough way of dealing with things, the man says with a grin: “Behind these pearly whites, I got razor sharp teeth.”  When the boy laughs at this reply, Porter continues straight-faced: “I’m serious, Freddy. These babies are all show. Underneath… My real ones are sharp as knives. But sales is all about appearances and it’s hard to sell anything if you look like a shark.” This moment had me laughing out loud, because of the absurdity of the dialogue, yet it provides a horrible feeling of foreboding. This sequence stands as a good example of how the writing of the team of Scott Snyder and his newcomer, childhood friend Scott Tuft works. It hits on all the right notes; a little humor; a little drama’ some emotion; excitement; and a lot of ominous subtext.

Apparantly Mr. Porter really has sharp teeth. Great writing from Snyder and Tuft, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

Apparantly Mr. Porter really has sharp teeth. Great writing from Snyder and Tuft, from Severed #1, published by Image comics.

After reading I concluded that this may very well be one of those special cases where a comic book is actually crafted and executed perfectly. The first issue of Severed is genuinely creepy, funny, moving and as intriguing as should be expected from a first issue.
Art: 10      Writing: 10     Overall: 10

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One response to “Book of the week 31: Severed #1

  1. Pingback: Book of the week: Batman 1 | Every comic

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