‘The Vale: I Don’t Know What I Did Last Summer:’ Comic Book Review

The Vale: I Don’t Know What I Did Last Summer takes readers into a world where Lovecraftian-like elder gods have forcibly sundered the wall between their world and ours. Fay, elders, and humans mingle uneasily as everyone is a little afraid of what the others could do. Despite their differences, Shugg (an elder), Jan (a human), and Liam (a fay) have forged a close friendship. The comic looks at Liam’s stag party (roughly equivalent to a bachelor party in the US) where Shugg and Jan join the leprechaun-looking fellow’s other pals in Derry, Ireland, for a night of drinking and debauchery that will not be mentioned again. Due to the subject matter of the comic, this is definitely for mature readers only.

The Vale: IDKWIDLS is a British publication, so I don’t know if I missed some of the story by not being up to date with current slang. I could follow most of the patter between the major characters, but I truly found myself lost in a few places. If you’re uncomfortable with Briticisms, I recommend giving this comic a pass, since it definitely doesn’t pander to American readers.

The basic storyline is quite simple: Jan and Shugg travel from Aylesbury, England, to Derry, Ireland, for their friend, Liam’s, stag party. Upon arrival the young men/creatures start a vicious pub crawl that ends with everyone being so drunk/high that they barely can remember the night’s events the next morning. There is a smaller subplot involving Shugg accidentally destroying a magic wand belonging to an angry Irish micturian who turns out to be friends with Curn, another stag party guest. What makes The Vale unique is how the various mythical creatures are blended into society as if they’d always been present. The opening paragraphs after the cover page give a convoluted explanation of how things occurred, but I had to piece together a lot of the backstory for myself by re-reading and scrutinizing the various panels. Ultimately, it worked because once I ID’d the race of the major characters, I never questioned how or why they existed in this plane.

Brett Uren and F Harmon did an excellent job conveying the tensions between the English and the Irish in their dialogue, despite over half of the major cast being non-human. The regional rivalries added both stress and humor to the boys’ night on the town, and I flat out giggled when Jan and Shugg’s arrival in a rented tank irritated the locals. The inclusion of real issues in an otherwise fantasy/SF humor story was well done.

My first impression of Brett Uren’s artwork was that it was extremely busy; every panel was stuffed full of individuals and stylized backgrounds. In some places, such as the line for the ferry or the crowded pubs and strip clubs, the crowded scenes worked to convey the sheer press of people and objects; in others, my eyes had a hard time settling on what to focus on, and I had to re-read them multiple times to glean the meaning.

My biggest problem with The Vale was simply that the word bubbles were sometimes a little hard to follow. In most places I could determine who was speaking, but it wasn’t always obvious. Also, in more crowded scenes or pages with uneven panels, it was difficult to figure out what order I should read the dialogue in. As a result, I again had to read some sequences multiple times to figure out what was occurring and who was speaking at a given time.

Overall, I still wonder if I’m missing something from The Vale: IDKWIDLS after reading through the comic several times, but I have to commend it for a warmer, more humorous take on invasion by the elder gods. Readers looking for buddy stories will enjoy Shugg and Jan’s night on the town in Derry, as long as they can decipher the thick British slang.


3.75 Beheaded Reanimated “Dancers” out of 5

Last modified on Saturday, 29 December 2018 02:33

Jodi Scaife, Fanbase Press Social Media Strategist

Mid-30s geek type with a houseful of pets, books, DVDs, CDs, and manga

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