Ceej Says… The Many Vol. 1: Once Upon a Time in Utopia review

TheMany-PromoWriter/Artist: Charlie Gillespie

Creator Charlie Gillespie describes The Many as “a shock doctrine of horror and political intrigue”, and “an extremely dark and gritty adult Harry Potter Vs The Lost Boys in the Pentagon Shot through the Prism of Noam Chomsky to the sound of Primal Scream’s Accelerator. With added Goat!”, which should give you a decent idea of what we’re dealing with here. Maybe.

The story itself is incredibly wide-reaching, sometimes to the detriment of the overall narrative. Events are taking place around the world in a variety of different timelines, and for the first couple of chapters it can be fairly hard going keeping track of exactly what’s going on. Yes, there are some interesting storyline threads being introduced, but it’s initially difficult to see how they actually relate to one another (if indeed they do at all). I should clarify though that everything does eventually pull itself together near the end, but I definitely found myself feeling more disorientation than intrigue in the opening portion of the book.

The artwork is solid enough, and keeps things flowing smoothly from panel to panel, with Gillespie providing some great visual beats along the way. However, the consistency of the characters was slightly hit-or-miss, with their facial appearances sometimes altering drastically from panel to panel. Overall though, this is a book whose visuals are well polished, and credit must be given to the somewhat restrained colour palette which gives the whole thing a wonderfully ‘old school’ vibe.

Gillespie uses some interesting imagery and storyline devices to get his story across – the flies which Thomas Darker summons/controls are brilliantly implemented, and the introduction of an undead Karl Marx (yeah, you heard me) in the latter stages is glorious in its sheer insanity. He also employs a decidedly cinematic approach to his storytelling and panel layouts, and includes some terrific slow-burn reveals of shocking moments or situations (such as the aforementioned Marx resurrection).

I did feel that some of the political opinions and philosophies came across as more than a little heavy-handed in places (chapter three for instance consists almost entirely of a tirade by Darker about the people’s oppression by their ‘corporate masters’), and the overall view of government as inept, clueless deviants – both in the UK and the US – is definitely lacking in subtlety. That said, as a over-exaggerated take on many people’s legitimate feelings on the matter, it definitely worked to get the point across. It was all just perhaps a little too preachy for my tastes.

Overall, The Many has a lot going for it. It features a fully fleshed-out world with some legitimately intriguing protagonists, and the and the interweaving of the political machinations with the ancient, supernatural prophecies (oh, and vampires) does work extremely well. There are a few missteps with the structure and, on occasion, the artwork, but as an overall package, it’s definitely worth a look – especially if politically-charged action-horror-dramas are your bag.

The Many: One Upon a Time in Utopia is currently available on Comixology, priced at a very reasonable 69p.

The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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