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    Review: Rachel Rising #1

    By | August 4th, 2011
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written and Illustrated by Terry Moore

    Rachel wakes up at sunrise on a shallow grave in the woods and discovers the freshly murdered body in the dirt is her own. With events of the previous night a blur, Rachel seeks out her boyfriend Phillip. But Phillip has a new girl now and Rachel is beginning to suspect she rose from the grave for a reason… revenge! Don’t miss the Premier Issue of this haunting new series by Eisner and Harvey Award-winning creator Terry Moore!

    I’ve never read a Terry Moore book in singles. Even with his Marvel work, I read it all in collected editions. Terry Moore is a steady and prolific creator, so I’ve always found it easier to read his work when it was completed.

    But screw that, I’m actually paying attention when his new book is out for once. Let’s give the ol’ one bit a month thing a go.

    Check out some thoughts on Terry Moore’s new book after the cut.

    Terry Moore is one of those incredibly prolific creators who – for some odd reason – never became as big of a name as he should have. Sure, he is the creator of the landmark series Strangers In Paradise, which has had an incredible influence on indie comics everywhere (as well as being notable for it’s male-written portrayal of women), but how many people have Terry Moore on their “must read all the time always” list these days? Oddly enough, the answer to that question is pretty low (at least in the circles I figuratively run in).

    However, if nothing else, Moore has showed with two books now that he is a talented and worthwhile independent creator to follow. Yes, he has done work for the Big Two, but let’s shut our eyes and forget about that temporarily for now. Instead, let’s take a brief look back at Strangers in Paradise and the recently completed Echo, both of which were entirely creator-owned and relatively big hits with those who actually read them. Strangers in Paradise launched Moore as a creator, while Echo proved his versatility beyond the simple day-to-day slice of life drama series that was SiP. It was a brief foray into genre-specific storytelling, but one that was well received, so hopes are obviously high for the next thing.

    And just like that, with barely any wait time at all, Moore is back with Rachel Rising, his first explicitly horror-based title. Featuring a girl rising from a freshly-dug grave, our heroine Rachel now has the unfortunate task of attempting to find out who put her underground and what she did to deserve this while coping with a world that isn’t quite ready for the dead to return to life. Rachel herself isn’t a zombie or anything like that, but rather a person once-again alive. Moore throws in a few quiet twists and turns along the way to offer possible clues to her greater story; it’s a rather intriguing issue, very tense and silent relying more on Moore’s art than his writing until the end of the issue, where questions start being asked and the world starts being built.

    Suffice it to say, it’s a strong start for the series. Moore is obviously a talent in the creator-owned world, and while is for-hire work is rather sub-part in comparison there is no doubt that he’s always been able to stand on a strong leg when it comes to work that feels more personal. Rachel Rising feels like an investment from Moore to the reader, and while it offers up a few questions and no answers, there is an assumed promise here that Moore – given his past work and proclivity – won’t let us down. This isn’t the bombastic and sci-fi storytelling of Echo or the raw emotional rampage of Strangers in Paradise, but rather a slow and tense exploration of the horror genre as Moore begins his tale. It’s bright due to it’s black and white color scheme, but it’s still rather dark and moody throughout, and while this isn’t the average horror story that we’ve come to expect (full of zombies and vampires and other supernatural excitement), it is a quiet thriller akin to an old black and white film, with hints of Diabolique or even a modernized take on a film worthy of Bela Lugosi.

    Continued below

    Or, in simpler terms: he’s doing it right.

    Moore fills the issue with his rather expressive artwork. Featuring an incredibly lush landscape and Moore’s somewhat signature take on anatomy, Rachel Rising feels real for a book with an unreal premise. Moore made a name for himself with his realistic portrayal of women, and while this book features a heavy supernatural overtone which would sort of imply an unrealistic portrayal, Moore keeps his intentions pure. Our heroine is not your average scantily clad teenager running through the woods being chased by a man in a hockey mask, but a fully dressed woman caught up in the most unfortunate of circumstances. It’s fairly refreshing to see Moore’s work here, back to a world where women reign supreme and don’t have to feel knocked down by other characters. Rachel is our heroine, and due to Moore’s human portrayal of her and his rather intense visual layouts for her setting, we the reader connect to her story much quicker with little skepticism that this is anything less appropriate than it appears to be.

    That is also a double-edged sword, however. Moore certainly has a signature style for his characters, but since really finding it Moore hasn’t moved past it. This isn’t to say that it’s bad in anyway, but if you hold Rachel up to Julie from Echo or even Katchoo and Francine from Strangers in Paradise, his women all do look fairly similar. It is to an extent somewhat of Moore’s charm, but you look at a similar creator like Jeff Smith and the subtle differences from Bone to RASL, and you kind of wonder if Moore has just grown so comfortable with his form of anatomy that he just doesn’t need to move farther than that. This isn’t to say that it is bad in anyway, to the same extent that many artists develop a style and stick to it, but it would be interesting to see something other than what we are explicitly used to.

    The only other problem with Rachel Rising is that, for all intents and purposes, we’re given a tiny slice of something that will undoubtedly be better when it can be read with it’s later parts. Obviously this is something that comes at a personal level and it’s an element that is influenced by my past reading habits, but by the end of the issue I was left both wanting more and annoyed that I couldn’t have more immediately. It’s not that I’m impatient, but it’s a similar type of complaint that I’ve had with other books: at the point the final page roles around you don’t feel so much like you’re at the natural stopping point of this particular book or even at a cliffhanger, but rather you’re at the place where the page count needed to end. It seems like Moore just has Rachel Rising all plotted out (at least for a few issues), and is arbitrarily cutting it at whatever point he hits the required page count. It’s a risky move for Moore to make, but given his name it’s certainly not unfounded to trust his intentions on this one.

    I said at the beginning that I was used to reading Tony Moore specifically in trade, so I look forward to the issue-by-issue basis of Rachel Rising. While I don’t care much for his non-independent work, I’ve read and seen enough by Moore to know that Rachel Rising should certainly make an interesting addition to my monthly pull. If there was ever a better time to take a stray from the mainstream superhero-dominated land of comics, it would be now; Rachel Rising should certainly do a nice job in taking up a spot in your collection.

    Final Verdict: 8.5 – Buy

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    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."

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