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"Empress: Volume 1" Graphic Novel Review

Written by James Ferguson

Published by Isle Squared Comics & Cruel Productions

Empres Volume 1 00

Written by Chuck Amadori
Illustrated by Marcelo Salaza
Colored by Matheus Bronca
2015, 102 Pages

Review:

What would you do if you saw strange green monsters lurking in the shadows? You'd probably think you were crazy. That's what happened to Zia, a top-notch actress in old-school Hollywood. She suddenly disappeared when the visions became too much to bear. The studio has hired private investigator Niles Lance to look into it quietly. He'll soon wish he never took this case.

Empress bounces back and forth between the past and the present. As Lance gets closer to finding answers, we flash back to Zia's past, learning about her goblins and how long they've plagued her. It creates a good storytelling device that aids in the mystery aspect as we're finding out clues and putting the pieces together the same way Lance is.

Empres Volume 1 01Empres Volume 1 02
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The story slowly reveals the truth and it's far more than just a crazy actress. It dates back centuries. Writer Chuck Amadori builds an incredible mythos here, pulling in real historical figures and adding monstrous elements in a tale that's full of bloodshed and menacing creatures.

The goblins are the most unsettling part of Empress, first and foremost because only one person can see them at a time. The idea that you can't trust your own mind is a frightening thought. You have to question what's real, which is the position Zia finds herself in. Their appearance is disturbing as well. They're constantly leering at their target, popping up over people's shoulders like this is all part of some sick, twisted game to them. They're taunting Zia and threatening to destroy her life if she tells anyone about them.

Colorist Matheus Bronca adds to the monstrous quality of the goblins with a puke green hue. This helps them blend into the darkness around them and further adds to the idea that they may not be real.

Empres Volume 1 03
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While artist Marcelo Salaza draws some creepy goblins, his human characters fall short. They often look like rudimentary computer-generated people, like something you'd find from an early video game. This makes for numerous stiff and awkward positions and vacant facial expressions, like they're soulless automatons and not real people. Their faces don't match up with the intensity of some of the scenes, as if they're robots told to act like humans.

Empress really gets going towards the end of this volume, finishing with a jaw-dropping climax that I did not see coming. It's a great way to wrap up the first collection and leave you begging for more. It's clear this is the beginning for something epic and it's only going to get bloodier from here on out.

Grades:

Story: Threeandahalfstars Empres Volume 1 Cover
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Empres Volume 1 Cover
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Art: Twoandahalfstars
Overall: Threestars

About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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