The Wicked Need a Rest – “Sleepy Hollow” #1 [Review]

By | October 16th, 2014
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

It’s no easy job to create a comic based on a TV show, especially when it’s a four-issue compressed arc. To do so is to invite comparison not just between the content of what’s covered in plot or composition of the characters, but also between the pacing between film and comics. While the best sequential art can create panels that balances time, that increases tension panel by panel as well as any director can, “Sleepy Hollow,” I’m afraid, is not one of them.

Written by Marguerite Bennett
Illustrated by Jorge Coelho

After dying in the Revolutionary War, Ichabod Crane wakes up in present day Sleepy Hollow, NY. His resurrection is tied to the appearance of the headless horseman’s (one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse) return. Crane teams up with Lt. Abbie Mills to not only protect the local citizens of Sleepy Hollow, but to discover what his mission is, and how the two can work together to save the world from ending too soon.

Bennett, Coelho, and Bonvillain create a romping tale with vibrant energy that’d serve audiences better if it spent more time solving these supernatural cases. “Sleepy Hollow” #1 races through its action and intrigue too quickly, and leaves its promising cast in the shadows.

“Sleepy Hollow’s” opening panels start off wonderfully. The writing is minimal. Explanation: zilch. Set in a shadowed scene we see an old, blind woman working in her kiln. In splashes of bright, eye-popping greens and golds, she miraculously regains her vision. Coelho’s meticulous eye for detail, paired with Bonvillain’s surprisingly warm hues, creates an energetic scene. As we turn the page, we jump to a bakery with our leading LT. Mills and Crane, bantering over whether cake counts as food. Bennett’s sudden jolt in scene is a clever choice, as it lets readers wonder about the old woman/the case as we first meet our crime-fighting duo.

As we watch Mills inform Crane how things have changed since the Revolutionary War (like how the owners of this bakery are two women who have a daughter), we are left smirking. Bennett’s wry eye towards social commentary is very much appreciated. This idea of the changing world becomes even more valuable as we watch the two “research” in a cabin, which turns into a debate over the function of Wikipedia (Crane obviously dislikes it). The humor of Mills and Crane’s displaced time and misplaced values is welcomed, and fresh.

As the story progresses we find another supernatural act that, like the opening scene, marvels in its simplicity. Bonvillain’s ability to draw a truck flipped over by a human into a daybreak explosion is awe-inspiring. Coelho’s attention to the two shadowed figures hunched beneath the crackling metal is chilling enough for readers to cling to the panels, and wish for Crane and Mills to arrive on the case sooner. But what happens once they arrive is that the problem is too easily solved.

Although fans of the show might have a better idea of who Moloch and Serilda are, other readers are left overwhelmed when we hear their names. The encyclopedic-like breakdown of their roles in the series results in clunky dialogue that distances the reader from the thrill of witches and demons that the issue initially promised.

When in a matter of pages the pair not only discover the cause, but the history and the solution to a problem that is infecting an entire town’s fate that possibly leads them to their doom, the reader has to ask: is the mystery the point for this series?

If the answer is no, then the time spent on the case shouldn’t overshadow the time between our crime-fighting duo. Give me more time after-case, and before-case. Give me wiping the sweat off my brow and telling you like it is moments. Give me honesty. I love to hear how cake can’t be food all the time because it is too expensive to buy on a consultant’s salary in the Sleepy Hollow precinct. I love to hear how apple pie is something that we don’t talk about to Mills, because we know apple pie is not just apple pie — but we aren’t close enough yet to her to uncover that.

If the answer is yes, then the pacing between the two’s work and their working relationship needs to be slowed down, and focused in-action, in-case. The solutions to the crimes committed by ghastly things can’t be as convenient as they are now, or all action and thrill, immediately dissolved into happenstance.

Final Verdict: 5.0 – It’s a running tale that could do better to slow down; a promising relationship between a crime-fighting pair that deserves to be fleshed out more within action that is as crisp and clear and meaningful as the witticisms they speak.

Cassandra Clarke

Cassandra Clarke is currently an MFA student at Emerson College, studying Fiction. You can find her in the dusty corner of used book stores, running at daybreak, or breaking boards at her dojang.