Vessels #1 Review
Created and Written by Dave Cook
Art by Rafael Desquitado Jr.
Colours by Dennis Lehmann
Letters by Garrett Gunn
Supported by Comichaus
If I was being interviewed and the interviewer asked me, “what genre do you think is vastly underrated and underrepresented in indie comics today,” I would have to say fantasy. Fantasy is almost exactly like Sci-Fi in the fact that both genres have nearly endless value for the writers and artists to make huge worlds full of complex characters and very involved tropes. I consider all forms of fantasy creative, even ones that are all part of a previously established world. Vessels is more than just creative however, Cook takes elements of medieval sword and sorcery fantasy and infuses it with his own new mythology.
Cook’s writing is very clear and he leads the story enough to make it interesting but also slowly reveals the key parts about the characters and world. In other words he has done a masterful job at storytelling and world building. Cook begins the book with a small introduction but in truth the intro doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how deep Vessels goes. I enjoyed the small intro but aside from one key part it wasn’t overly necessary because we could have figured it out, although the small clue does help to understand the feel of where Cook was going to go with the book. The writing of captions is done incredibly well and the dialog is believable and organic. In their world the fantasy aspects are what they are and the characters don’t dwell on them and lead the reader down some forced exposition, like what tends to happen to writers when doing fantasy. The more I see from Cook the more I want and fully plan on reviewing another of his soon.
This artist team is simply stunning. This is the sort of art that I think great comic books should look like. I have these styles set in my head as a default for all the ideas I have swimming around; it’s good, great, impressive even, or whatever other adjective means amazing. The characters are unique and formidable in their own ways and the backdrops are very fantasy driven and medieval looking. Without Desquitado really putting time and effort into the visual world building I don’t Vessels would have been half the book it is.
Lehmann has an arcane way of using light contrast that is fascinating and wonderfully refreshing to see, especially in a fantasy book. Lehmann uses the contrast of light and dark to set the mood as well as flow with the feel of the book, he lightens up parts that are light and darkens parts that are dark, but as I said it’s in contrast to the feel of the book. I feel like the color contrast in fantasy that pits evil versus good is essential and I’m more than content with Lehmann’s choice of color palette to complement the light and dark because neither is over the top or too much. I feel like it’s too easy to throw in seriously black spots and darken up a scene but Lehmann’s dark spots are more complementary to the light and rarely overtake the panel. As far as visual storytelling Desquitado does a great job but Lehmann and the coloring gives it the feel that makes it truly unique.
I love when a letterer takes what could be average and tunes it up. Gunn puts his stamp on this book by turning an ordinary day of lettering into a piece of art that can stand on it’s own. The action letters, captions, and dialog balloons are all done in a unique yet still very comic book centric font that lends a certain amount of unique style while staying within comic book conventionality. Gunn’s style is fitting and complementary to the overall unique approach by everyone else involved. Clearly a great addition to the other artists as Gunn too is innovative and willing to travel outside the norm to find what would fit best in Vessels.
I truly feel like Vessels is a book that could have been done by a large company like Image or Boom and Card Shark Comics is starting to come into their own as a top notch company. If you want to check out Vessels you can find them on Card Shark Comics website or at Comichaus, and on social media like Facebook and Twitter.