Radical Comics’ Incarnate #2 was released earlier in the month, on October 6, but I just wanted to take a minute to point out I’m continuing to enjoy it a lot more than I expected to prior to actually trying it.
The involvement of a kinda sorta celebrity, the weird tangle of credits, the multiple covers (many of which don’t reflect the contents at all)…on paper, Incarnate seemed to suggest one of the many ambitious Virgin Comics miniseries, the bulk of which ended up being pretty terrible.
But, um, also on paper…like, the paper it was actually published on? Incarnate is really not bad at all.
I like the $4.99-for-56-pages format and the fact that it has a spine like DC’s old prestige format books (the end result being you can stand it on a bookshelf with trade paperbacks if you want, making it a more versatile format to live with once you’re done reading it and have to find a home in your home for it). I like all the ads being house ads, and appearing only in the back, after the comic itself is done (Aside: How is it that Radical can afford to publish so much comic for so cheaply, and to not sell any advertising, whereas DC and Marvel can’t? Or is it just that the two biggest publishers in the direct market don’t want to, more than can’t?)
I also really like the colors, something I tended to not even notice until the last few years, when computer coloring effects got so completely out of control that I can barely stand to read many books, and the default mode for whole lines of comics tends to be dark, muddy and tightly photo-referenced.
The art in this book, which seems to be provided manga studio style given the strange credits (a penciller, an inker, a colorist and three credited “art assistants”), is nice and flat, and the design is simplified and cartoony, and the coloring works with that.
Despite the Jo Chen cover, this insides of this are a comic book that looks like a comic book. Random panels wouldn’t, couldn’t be mistaken for stills from videogames or album cover art.
The story is moving extremely quickly, and parts of this issue seemed to be setting up a sort of ongoing premise, so I’m somewhat confused by the fact that it’s actually two-thirds over…unless writer/artist Nick Simmons and Radical are planning on the series of mini-series model.
The character Mot, a “revenant” (which here is a sort of immortal, vampiric creature) and his friend have been captured and fitted with special obedience collars fashioned from the bones of other revenants (since only revenants can hurt and kill other revenants). They are both under the control of a rich young spoiled blond teenager, who forces Mot to attend her school with her and act as her bodyguard.
Also, she might have a crush on him. And also, he might be attracted to her, despite denying it.
See? Not a bad premise for, say, a manga series.
In this issue, the revenants are much further differentiated from vampires than they seemed to be last time around. There’s a goth-punk female one who sprouts six big black bird wings from her black, another which has all kinds of insect-like body-parts hidden beneath his clothes and skin, and one named Anubis who transforms into something like this:
It’s a pretty neat design, one that looks like what one would expect a character named Anubis to look like, but it simultaneously looks unlike any version I’ve seen before. (Note the ditch he digs with Mot’s face as drags it around the ground above).
Even Mot himself seems to conceal a more alien, monster form:
And it's two-thirds over, so it only has to stay good for about another fifty-some pages!