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‘Spiral #1:’ Comic Book Review

Spiral is a crime noir that follows two adults – one cop and the other criminal – who have long been denied the opportunity to step into the family mantle and step out of the long shadow cast by their respective fathers. Olivia is a rebellious, hotheaded cop who regularly pushes legal boundaries while Michael, who finally gets to take over a part of the family business, is anxious to prove that he can manage the business better than his father; both ignore parental advice. As each spirals out of control, they are on a collision course trajectory into each other’s worlds – the streets of London. Thus begins the first of this four-part series.

At the time of writing this review, the first issue is in the final days of a crowdfunding campaign and has already exceeded its goal set by writer Magnus Aspli from Norway. He assembled a small, yet global, creative team that includes artist Emerson DiMaya from the Philippines who completed the art and colors and Australian Nic J. Shaw, who created the logo, design, and lettering. It is a testament to the global appeal of and shared tropes of the genre that readers around the world have come to expect, and the creative team has not disappointed with the first issue of Spiral.

Aspli has written a fascinating story of flawed characters making bad decisions and the collateral damage that results, to themselves and the innocent people around them. Although Olivia and Michael inhabit opposing sides of the law, they are two peas from the same pod. Both are hurting, both feel the need to prove their worth to their fathers, yet struggle to reconcile that need. One feels for them and at the same time is repulsed by their violent and destructive behaviors; it’s a tumultuous dynamic that Aspli has adeptly struck with the first issue.

From the cover and throughout the issue, the visuals are stark and domineering for attention. The thick lines with lots of deep, dark shadows and a muted color scheme convey a sense of seediness that permeates from and into both sides of the law that each family represents. The wide, black gutters encase the panels of each page, lending to the tension of the constant action that readers are dropped right in the middle of in the opening pages. DiMaya has drawn the characters well and has provided easily identifiable articles of clothing, for instance, so that there is no confusion between the characters, since there several characters to keep track in the issue.

Shaw’s lettering is clean and very easy to read. He has limited his use of fonts and relies on varying sizes to emphasize dialogue, such as whispers (smaller font) to yelling (bigger font). And, Shaw has exercised good judgment with the placement of speech bubbles so they do not interfere with the action in each panel.

There is very little that can be said in the negative about Spiral. To do so would be based on my own personal likes and dislikes; however, my one caveat would be to interject that I think the locale of London as the backdrop for this story is a fantastic choice, in part because I have visited and hold the city as one of my favorites. That aside, this hard-boiled crime noir tale delivers a powerhouse story and phenomenal visuals. And, it’s definitely worth the read for fans of the genre.

Michele Brittany, Fanbase Press Contributor



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