Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week): Adrian Alphona, Jason Masters and Scott Kolins
The comic book, animation, illustration, pinup, mashup, fan art and design communities are generating amazing artwork of myriad styles and tastes, all of which ends up on the Internet and filtered into ComicsAlliance’s Best Art Ever (This Week). These images convey senses of mood and character — not to mention artistic skill — but comic books are specifically a medium of sequential narratives, and great sequential art has to be both beautiful (totally subjective!) and clear in its storytelling (not so subjective!). The words and the pictures need to work together to tell the story and create whatever tone, emotion and indeed world the story requires. The contributions of every person on a creative team, from the writer to the artist(s) to the letterers, are necessary to achieving a great page of sequential storytelling.
It is the special nature of comic books that we’re celebrating in this recurring feature: Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week).
Story: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Jason Masters and Scott Kolins
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Available: Comics shops (print) / Comixology (iOS + Android + Web + Etc.)
[Full disclosure: I was once part of the editorial team on this book, although that was with a different creative team.] Throughout Batwing 27, Jason Masters plays with a variety of interesting layouts as a method of telling the story, and many of them work really well. This page stands out as being particularly well-executed and effective. It's a way of cutting through exposition, showing past and present but doing it quickly to move on to the meat of the story. The contrast in colors between new and old, grim and happy, helps to make the different panels pop. There are some really terrifying things going on in the background of the grim images including a man getting mauled by a dog and a guy jumping off of a building onto a car, but neither is needlessly gory, it's just part of the contrast. The level of detail on this page is what really makes the storytelling effective, where even on a small sliver of the page at the end you can see to the far right a building both new and old - even though it clearly would've been easier to draw the bright middle panel all the way to the edge. Ideally the second to last caption would be popped over to the left a little more but otherwise this is a great example of a page that experiments with layout and still tells the store clearly.
There are really no words to express how delightful it is to have Adrian Alphona on a monthly comic again. He is a supremely talented artist and this issue is proof that he's just continued growing since his work on Runaways. This issue is one of the strongest first issues I think I've ever seen both in writing and in art. The story of Kamala instantly draws the reader in. While Alphona has a lot of great pages throughout the issue, this one and its use of light and dark really stands out. The car in the upper left of panel 1 is a tiny detail that instantly starts the eye at the right point to make sure you take in the entire panel. The spotlight in panel 2 is a great way to pop the figure on the ground and show that something big is about to happen. Kamala's expression in the third panel is fantastic and the way the smoke billows around her flows with the reader's eye. The fact that she is moving towards the far right in the last panel moves the reader to turn the page and keep going. As a whole, this is a pretty fantastic page of storytelling.