The art in Archeologists of Shadows is simply amazing. Every panel looks like a matte painting, it's filled with so much detail. Light and shadows are used to an amazing effect, which makes the art seem to come off the page and immerse you in this world. The settings are breathtaking, with the cityscapes of the Authorities looking like a blend of cyberpunk with old school 1950s concepts of the future, but my favorite settings are the outdoors. The colors and environments that artist Patricio Clarey creates are simply gorgeous. Clarey also goes to a lot of trouble crafting each of the characters; none of whom looks the same thanks to the mechanization process having a different effect on each of them.
Just like the art, the setting has a lot going on. We've got people becoming robots, a rebellion against a tyrannical empire, chosen ones, gods, other dimensions, and just about everything else from science fiction. It felt to me like a lot was thrown at the reader as an introduction. I just finished putting all of the pieces together and understanding the world when the volume ended. The Resistance is merely the first part in a much longer series, so the quick set-up is understandable. The actual idea of mechanization I found to be quite cool. It makes for a great metaphor for corruption in our society, and the theme of technology taking over our lives.
Like the world, by the end of The Resistance I felt like I was just starting to figure out Alix and Baltimo, which kind of worked for me since they are still figuring out themselves. Archeologists of Shadows still has plenty of memorable characters (Mrs. Norris. Oh, Mrs. Norris.) with many of the background characters being the main ones I wanted to ask the question, “What's that guy's story?” which brought back the feeling of the first time I saw the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars. Because so much of this first volume is establishing the world, the plot feels a bit rushed, with plenty of quick and sometimes rather jarring transitions, but it did keep the comic moving along, even if there were a few scenes where I still have no idea what was going on after reading the volume twice.
Both Archeologists of Shadows Volume I: The Resistance and Volume II: Once a Nightmare are available digitally on its website for $0.99. The art alone is worth the price of admission, and if that's an interest of yours, the first volume also includes 50 pages showing parts of Partricio Clarey's artistic process with commentary.