Advance Review – Above Snakes #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Sean Lewis
Artwork: Hayden Sherman
Lettering: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Release Date: 13th July 2022

Ahead of its release next month, we’ve been able to take an early look at the first issue of ABOVE SNAKES, the latest collaboration between BCP favourites Sean Lewis, Hayden Sherman and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. It tells the story of Dirt, a gunslinger looking for revenge against the gang who murdered his wife.  At first glance, this might sound like a fairly familiar story, and one you’ve likely heard a thousand times before, but in the hands of Lewis, Sherman and Otsmane-Elhaou it becomes something far more special.

Lewis’ established knack for slightly eccentric world building and scene setting, coupled with Sherman’s scratchy, slightly uncomfortable artwork gives this series an unexpectedly punk rock vibe from the get-go.  The colours are intentionally garish and jarring throughout, and Dirt’s companion on his journey – a magical, vengeance-seeking bird called Speck – adds a slightly trippy feel to the proceedings that really helps this series stand out from the rest of the ‘Western revenge’ books on the shelves.

Otsmane-Elhaou puts in a typically stellar shift with the lettering, capturing the gritty and grimy tone of the story and adding some neat visual flourishes along the way to help differentiate between different speakers. Everything feels pumped up to the max here, and while the lettering on some comics can feel like a guide leading you by the hand around the artwork on the page, here it feels very much like a part of the artwork itself.  One particular flourish involving a reflection was so cool that it literally made me do a double-take to appreciate its brilliance.

Dirt is a gruff, surly force of nature as a protagonist, although his ongoing journal entry ‘narration’ – which is again brought to the page with a real flair by Otsmane-Elhaou – adds some much-needed depth and perspective to his actions. Lewis leans heavily into the darker aspects of the story, but makes sure to pepper it with a few humorous barbs along the way to stop things from feeling too dour.

If you’re not already familiar with Sherman’s artwork, then hopefully a quick glance at the preview below should be enough to hook you.  It’s packed with his trademark rough energy as usual, but actually shows a lot more precision than I’ve seen from him in the past, which really helps certain sequences here to sing.

If the purpose of a first issue is to completely and utterly draw the reader into the world being created, then Above Snakes should be considered a massive success. A darkly humorous tale of Western vengeance with a supernatural twist, this is a series you owe it to yourself to pick up.

Rating: 4.5/5.


The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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