Written by Claudio Sanchez, Peter David
Illustrated by Aaron Kuder
Coheed and Cambria frontman Claudio Sanchez and comics legend Peter David bring you the epic conclusion to the “Silent Earth” saga! Claudio’s ship of misfit warriors joins Inferno and his rebel army, taking the fight directly to Wilhelm Ryan and House Atlantic. It’s a battle for the ages as Claudio’s survival hinges on whether The Crowing was really his destiny…or just a myth.
I am what one might call a lapsed Coheed fan. Back in my younger and more venerable years I was a huge fanatic of the band, and I have copies of the original version of the Second Stage Turbine Blade comic hidden somewhere in my longbox. Yes, I was quite the avid fanboy of their music.
But as time went on, my general interest in their music waned, and I didn’t even purchase their last album (which served as a prequel to their whole story, and came with a book written by Peter David). The interest just isn’t there anymore. Yet, out of some assumedly misguided sense of loyalty whose origin I can’t quite be certain of, I decided to purchase and stay with all 12 issues of IKSOSE:3’s comic adaptation.
So here we are at issue #12. The story is revealed in full, the ending of this volume in the can. Given that IKSOSE:3 was one of my personal soundtrack CDs throughout high school and early college, did the book live up to the memories? Or did the older and jaded me find that there truly is nothing left in this band for me?
Find out some thoughts after the cut.
Let’s start with a simple notion: even before the comic came out, I wanted it to succeed. Truly, I did. This is a comic that I’ve been waiting for for almost a decade now; call it a sense of entitlement but I wanted it and I wanted it to be worth the wait. Putting Peter David (the fantastic writer of the extremely underrated X-Factor) on the book was enough to get me interested, and having the book start with Chris Burnham on art was a stroke of genius visually. Things were beginning to look good for this chapter of the incredibly ambitious sci-fi saga.
However, as the series moved into it’s second half, it took a bit of a hit. The story began to trip over itself while trying to jam too much in to too little a space. Burnham left to work with Morrison over at Batman Inc. It was beginning to look like this comic wouldn’t sync up with it’s audio counterpart (although, from what I have been told, that’s fairly on purpose) and all those interpretations of the story we’ve been led to assume upon over the years would be painfully wrong to staggering degrees. It was a bit sad, really. All that hope, devotion and affection presumably wasted.
This is why it makes me fairly excited to announce that the ending was a big step up in terms of the quality of the book. IKSOSE:3 in comic form is nowhere near the greatness of the record and it’s far from perfect, but in terms of storytelling – creating a point A to lead to point B in a fashion that makes me, the reader, not feel incredibly jaded – the comic succeeds. This is a good science fiction tale of prophecy and power, of the corruption of men in a world abandoned by God. To hold it up to a seven year old CD whose story was unfinished seems a bit harsh because there’s no way this new thing can match up to my feelings about that old thing, but as far as a companion piece goes it’s a solid piece of work. The comic doesn’t feel like something I have to take literally (although I think I’m supposed to?), but rather just a bit to attach to my memories of the album if I choose to accept them. It’s not bad, and I might just be in denial.Continued below
Against the broader spectrum, though, it doesn’t really hold. IKSOSE:3 doesn’t seem to line up well with either it’s predecessor or successor (assuming we still hold the Christopher Shy illustrated graphic novel as canon), but instead plays to the beat of it’s own drum. Its a complex and interwoven tale of the death and ascension of Wilhelm Ryan against Claudio (the character, not the creator) in a parallel examination of the nature and power of good against evil as part of the big sci-fi opera. On top of that, it’s just a pretty bombastic science fiction story featuring buildings turning into mechs and a man with the power to rearrange the universe. As someone who enjoys a good fictional representation of science in an entertainment medium, the book does operate on a less-grand scale of something like Star Wars.
However, the question of continuity does have an effect on me as a reader; it really seems like they (being David and Sanchez) are just making it up as they go along as opposed to following a plan. While I can’t pretend to fully understand the lyrics of the album, I’m going to go ahead and guess that this wasn’t what happened in the story written in 2003, and that, like most things, the story has changed over time. That’s ok, but this still doesn’t flow into the Good Apollo graphic novel, nor does it feel like the logical successor to Second Stage. This just is… well, it’s a story. It’s a story with familiar characters that, while enjoyable, doesn’t feel like a part of a whole so much as it feels like a part. I get the impression that the beginning and end points were always there, but everything that happened in between is new with just a few hints towards familiar and popular songs. To that end I can’t help but feel a little bit gypped as a fan.
I think the wisest thing that happened during the time it took for this comic to come out was the writing details being handed over to Peter David. The Sanchez-written books were nothing to get really excited about; Good Apollo was rather messy and obtuse and Second Stage Turbine Blade seemed rushed and a tad convoluted, at least in comparison to the music. As I said, they barely seem to match up, and always just seemed to be in a rush to “get to the good part.” David coming on board to offer up direction works magnificently, though, because if there’s one thing David knows how to do well it’s tell a long form story with enjoyable and quirky characters. David’s voice rings through on every page, allowing the characters to be reasonably snarky but also hold a level of power to their voices. On top of that, David does do his best to have everything sync up between chapters; the final two moments of this comic are both foreshadowing teases to the next volume, which happen to also be the only elements that sync up. It ultimately feels like Sanchez had a ton of ideas but like a spastic painter he tried to mix too many colors together to try and make them work, and they didn’t. Peter David was just the man to make them do so.
On top of that, Aaron Kuder finally comes into his own with this last issue. The issue looks so much better than the ones that came before it to the point that I actually had to double check to make sure that Kuder really had illustrated everything previously. What was once a poor man’s Burnham impersonation is now much more focused and singular, with Kuder drawing more like Ryan Bodenheim and really going to town on the imagery. Storywise, the final issue calls for huge visuals; this is the FINAL BOSS BATTLE after all. Kuder really nails this book home with some great splash pages and all around fantastic scenes of action and violence. While there are a few pages that seem to have some issues with depth perception and character stances, a lot of this is art that really makes you stop, look, and appreciate the attention to details – and that’s just what Kuder’s work had arguably been missing this whole time.Continued below
Amory Wars is an interesting piece when all is said and done. No, it doesn’t match up to the music, but of course it can’t. An album is a much more personal experience; you ingrate yourself into the lyrics in a much more singular and unique fashion than you can with a story that is flat out presented to you. But despite some dragging in the middle, the Amory Wars ends on a high note. Peter David has all but saved this franchise, which before was only really discussed in fan circles of the band. Now this is a comic that everyone and anyone can enjoy. I can only imagine how much better the collected editions will read, so if you haven’t read the book before now be on the lookout for the book. It will certainly fill up a nice place on the shelf of any sci-fi fan.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – Buy if you’ve been buying, look for a trade if you haven’t