‘Hum:’ Graphic Novel Review

Hum is a graphic novel from Diablo Comics, an independent publisher based in Los Angeles specializing in horror, science fiction, and fantasy stories. Founded in 2005 by Scott “Diablo” Marcano who wrote Bio-Dome, Marcano shared writing duties with Tom Lenoci for this 2008 story. This beefy, 250-page graphic novel, available at Amazon, was illustrated by Renzo Podestra. This review focuses on the first issue, or approximately the first 40 pages.

Marcano and Lenoci tell the story of a colonized planet with a societal structure in which the blind are bound to slavery by the masters who have retained their sight. The main characters are Vol, a sighted one, who is the younger brother of Rom the Adjudicator, while The Watchman, Lum, and her daughter Zuz are blind and, therefore slaves. At a microcosm level, Vol, The Watchman, and Lum represent good people flawed and shaped by their past, yet each is trying to find peace and harmony. The writers peel back the layers, revealing that they are interconnected; Vol, as a child, watched in horror as The Watchman was burned and disfigured, and in the recent past, Vol had a failed relationship with Lum that resulted in a blind daughter, Zuz. This taboo relationship would have had political ramifications, as well as creating class disparity for this “unconventional” family. Additionally, Marcano and Lenoci establish individual voices for each character. In particular, the cadence and word choice for The Watchman sets him apart well as a mystic or person of faith.

The web that Marcano and Lenoci weave in the first issue is brilliantly visualized by Podestra. He efficiently establishes a stark, desolate landscape, yet punctuates it with the fluidity of the grass and trees, where Podestra really teases out details. The trees have no leaves and the grass is just masses of stalks, but there is promise and hope of growth – perhaps, if peace can be found between the two classes. The physical posturing of the characters solicits the ongoing tension and drain of the class divide. The majority of the issue is in black and white – excellent in representing the societal divide – however, Podestra does add color sparingly to denote Vol's disturbing nightmares and the flashback to his childhood. It breaks up the black and white and calls attention to important points in the story.

Based on reading the first issue, the visuals are, at times, minimal and stark, yet are always engaging and mesmerizing. Hum has a solid start of a story that develops a sense of concern in the reader's mind and creates a desire want to know what will happen with these damaged characters.

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