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ExMortis #1-4: Comic Book Gold

Posted on Apr 12, 2016 by in Features, Small Press |

ExMortis

I’ve been diving into ExMortis, a gritty B&W comic with historical fiction and monster goodness. ExMortis is written by The Williams Brothers (Pete & Paul Williams), adapted by Andi Ewington, with art by Raymund Bermundez.

Raymund Bermundez is a fantastic artist who brings the story to life in a brilliant way. With clean lines, nice crosshatching, and strong shadows, the art is beautiful with beautiful scenes. Bermundez’s art flows with a well written story, filled with mystery and darkness.

The Williams Brothers and Ewington write with moving dialogue between characters, and they craft brilliant scenes. They create high-energy characters, and the way the writers play with both classic literature and history in a new narrative is fun to read.

I’m went through the first 4 issues of ExMortis, which is scheduled as a 7-issue miniseries. ExMortis is from 451 Comics, (http://www.4five1.com/). The company’s website looks very professional, and the look of the comic follows the impressive aesthetic of the comic releasing it. The covers are impressive and remind me of the best I’ve seen from Dark Horse’s The Goon.

The ExMortis story is interesting. Frankenstein meets Nazi Germany in a story about World War II soldiers and monsters. It’s pretty genius that the Williams brothers took the concept of this fictional German scientist, Viktor Frankenstein (created by Mary Shelley), and mixed him in with Nazi soldiers. Basically, the Nazis thought Mr. Frankenstein had good ideas on “overcoming man’s mortality” and used his scientific notes to create their own breed of powerful monsters in Project ExMortis. The idea has a bit of Nietzschean Übermensch idealism, which is an interesting mix with the Frankenstein mythos as well.

Cool concept of a comic. When I think of anything I could compare with ExMortis, I can see fans of Tarintino’s Inglorious Basterds loving this comic. There’s the concept of a team assembled to fight the Nazis, mixed with an interesting weird science-fiction/monsters take. The portraits of characters are beautifully illustrated, and characters from history like Hitler are brought to life in this dark, fantastical tale. As the story goes along, action intensifies and becomes dominant. There are a number of dynamic fight scenes, and the artist is great at action poses. The war scenes are great, so if you’re a military fiction buff, this comic is for you as well.

Art-wise, 1-3 is mind blowing, superb. There is an art change in Issue 4 with the addition of Ty Dazo to expect. Some people find art changes jarring when reading a comic. The art remains good, just not as strong as the first 3 issues. In this 4th issue, the lines a bit more cartoony and not as detailed at times. Even so, ExMortis #4 maintains the dark shadows, crosshatching, and bold lines. Overall, 4’s art is enjoyable. The action scenes are fun, and the storyline of ExMortis remains entertaining and engaging.

Along with the surface story of a group of monsters being trained to fight against the Nazis, there’s another theme of inner conflict and struggle. There are also the themes of struggling against other humans, against nature, and the world at large.  These monsters are also learning how to control their monstrous natures, and we see moments where their temperaments are challenged. What’s also interesting to note in the way these monsters work to understand themselves is how they deal with outside stimuli and the world around them, with circumstances beyond their control. When a monster is provoked, and retaliates due to instinct, it’s questionable as to how much control the monster really has in defending itself.

Along with Frankenstein’s monster, there are other classic creatures to enjoy in this series. Highly recommended. You can grab copies of ExMortis at ComiXology and learn more about the series on 451’s website. For 99 cents, you get a lot for your money, as each issue is over 30 pages long. I can’t wait to read the final three issues!

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