Advance Review – Undone by Blood: The Other Side of Eden #1 (AfterShock Comics)
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Writer(s): Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler
Artwork: Sami Kivelä
Colours: Jason Wordie
Lettering: Hasan Otsmane-Elhaou
Release Date: 3rd March 2021
From between the pages of a pulp western we rejoin Solomon Eaton’s adventures in the second volume of this AfterShock Comic series, however this time it’s a younger, less experienced Sol, setting out to make his name blazing a path across Mexico and the Wild West. Meanwhile in the real world, Silvano Luna Del Rio, a young Mexican working as a postman in Buttar Texas, plans to rob the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi. Silvano has a tragic past and this heist is a way of obtaining some sort of retribution, but retribution can be a double-edged sword, and Silvano’s target, a pair of eccentric brothers, have their own secrets.
Before we get started, have you read the first volume of Undone By Blood? You have? Excellent, now add this to your pull list and carry on as normal. If you haven’t, add it to your pull list anyway, and rest assured that you can jump straight in with this issue and catch up with the rest of the story at your leisure.
Volume one of this series featured a striking contrast between the world of Ethel Grady Lane and Sol Eaton, with Ethel’s tale taking place in the 1970’s. Silvano’s world of late Depression Era America, however, has much more of a Wild West feel about it, making the transition between the stories less distinct. 1934 was the tail end of the Great Depression, with prohibition ended and most of the big organised crime figures and bandits either incarcerated, dead, or on the run. It was also the year that saw the FBI being granted authority to carry fire arms and prosecute arrests, and Hollywood started to glamorise Hoover and his G-Men in films like Dillinger.
I really liked the sharp contrast in the first volume. I enjoyed the complexity that it necessitated in both the writing and the artwork. This volume however has a whole extra set of complexities, because while distinguishing the Wild West from the 70’s is not a hugely difficult job (the skill involved in writing a coherent story set in both timelines is another matter), making a clear difference between these two threads is going to be much more difficult. That being said, this is definitely the team to do it, as they’ve proven time and again.
As anyone who follows my work on the Big Comic Page will attest to, Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler are two of my favourite writers, and it’s a given that anything they write automatically gets added to my pull list, particularly when they’re writing together. I loved the first volume of Undone By Blood – it was clever and complex and a thrilling story from start to finish. It also gave me the opportunity to use the phrase meta-textual without irony, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do so again repeatedly throughout the second arc of the story.
Complexity and meta-textuality aside, let’s not also lose sight of the fact that these are also really entertaining adventure/thriller stories, and this latest arc of the series brings us some thrilling Western action and the beginning of what looks like it’s going to be a superb heist story with a twist.
Sami Kivelä and Jason Wordie continue to do a stellar job on the artwork for this series. Hand on heart, before I read the first arc of Undone By Blood, I can’t remember the last time I read a Western story. I’ve seen some really great westerns in movie format both traditional and contemporary but to actually sit down and read a Western comic book or novel is a different matter. However, the recent rise in this kind of neo-noir Western thriller has reignited my enthusiasm for the genre, and it is in no small part due to the artwork of Kivelä amd Wordie.
I love the gritty feel to the artwork, and I love the scenery they use to build their worlds. The characters that Thompson and Nadler create are superbly well-realised in the narrative and brought to life beautifully by this pair, with each having very distinct personalities and traits. Much as with the first arc, these are characters that you quickly become invested in and the way the been brought to life on the page really reinforces that connection.
Once again, Hasan Otsmane-Elhaou is on lettering duties, and once again he does a masterful job of tying together the narrative and the artwork, bringing a fantastic mixture of styles to suit every requirement. Hasan is one of my favourite letterers, and it’s always a joy to see what he brings to any project he’s working on.
I’m really excited to see this series continue, and I’m really looking forward to seeing this new storyline and where it takes us. Simply put, this is a no-questions-asked, do as you’re told and add it to your pull list right now, recommendation from me.
[UNLETTERED PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek
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