Incursion #1 Review: The Crone Apocalypse
Incursion #1 hits the ground running with world-building, violence and more heart than I expected out of an action-packed issue.
I just love a good foray into death, don’t you?
Story: Andy Diggle & Alex Paknadel
Art: Doug Braithwaite
Colors: José Villarrubia & Diego Rodriguez
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Diggle and Paknadel are setting up an interesting story with good pacing and some nice character moments in this first issue. Tama and Gilad’s relationship comes across in its subtlety and occasional conflict with limited dialogue before the issue’s action crests, and Virago and Syntilla are compelling both as a villainous unit and in their tension. Incursion’s landscape and subject matter can be bleak, but Diggle and Paknadel always add a bit of humor to help lighten the mood. There’s emotional weight that feels earned right off the bat, and the book sets up a universe-wide apocalypse that actually feels threatening. Death is coming, and it’d like to stay pretty.
I also appreciate reading about a female destroyer of worlds for a change. Bring on the bad crone energy, please. I’m here for it.
Braithwaite’s work is solid. Character designs are unique and imaginative, and I appreciate that Virago’s introduced in a more contained form. It’d be fine to see a sack of necrotic flesh, but the veneer of beauty and peak physique work nicely to signal what’s at stake for her from the beginning. Braithwaite’s line is very fine and precise, with a lot of pencil shading and subtle facial details to help the eye linger from panel to panel. This art style is a hard sell for me at times solely because the more realistic your characters, the more brutal the breaks from that reality seem, but Braithwaite does a great job in convincing me that these are real people (alien and humanoid alike), with real stakes, and the style ultimately suits. Layouts are strong, with some nice fantasy and action montages, and the book’s easy to follow.
Villarrubia & Rodriguez’s color palette is a very interesting choice for a story like this. If the colors were bold, you’d lose a lot of Braithwaite’s detail and mood, but I almost expect a high contrast or bright color palette in fantasy. The team subverts these expectations nicely, with pastels, subtle gradients and lighting that mesh very well with the art. From the first dying world, so clearly alien in its color scheme and design, to Incursion’s version of Earth, the colors create a nightmarish contrast with Virago’s army and her purpose and a mournful beauty that enhances the book’s tone.
If I had to nail down one visual gripe that’s not related to personal taste, it’s that the shadows can sometimes contrast too harshly on the page. They’ve been softened with a lot of care, but intricate, detailed artwork doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room and swaths of moody black can feel like empty space. My sense is that this subtlety translates better in print, so I’d pick up a hard copy to really appreciate what Incursion has to offer.
Dillon’s lettering is great. Virago’s grey-tinted balloons are a nice style touch, as is the double outline, and there are subtle tweaks to an otherwise regimented and uniform font that suit the book’s overall “tightrope over the void” vibe. Very nice work, and the subtlety helps keep the comic readable without fighting Braithwaite’s line or Villarrubia & Rodriguez’s pastel palette. Lettering can very often feel tacked onto art like this, but “Incursion” feels balanced beyond the mental and visual leeway we can sometimes give a sci-fi comic.
Incursion gives you just enough of its world and the personalities in it to hook your attention, and that’s exactly what an effective first issue should be doing. I’m eager to see how Tama navigates her new locale and how Gilad gets out of this mess, as well as how the unavoidable spectre of encroaching Death is managed throughout the story.
Pick up a copy at your LCS on Wednesday, and dig in!
Incursion #1 sets up an intriguing and very dangerous conflict, with compelling art, storytelling and good craft.