Beneath The Trees Where Nobody Sees 1 Featured Reviews 

Wrapping Wednesday: Micro Reviews for the Week of 10/18/23

By | October 23rd, 2023
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

There’s a lot to cover on Wednesdays. We should know, as collectively, we read an insane amount of comics. Even with a large review staff, it’s hard to get to everything. With that in mind, we’re back with Wrapping Wednesday, where we look at some of the books we missed in what was another great week of comics.

Let’s get this party started.

Beneath The Trees Where Nobody Sees #1
Written, Illustrated & Colored by Patrick Horvath
Lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Reviewed by Alexander Manzo

For any reader that’s ever wondered what Dexter (The serial killer show on Showtime) would be like in a Richard Scarry book would be like, Beneath The Tree Where Nobody Sees is that series. Patrick Horvath uses this debut issue to showcase the little town of Woodbrook, which feels like it comes from one of the little towns in Maine that Stephen King is always writing about. Everyone in the town knows each other and helps out selflessly without a care. The thing that sticks out in this little town is the owner of the local hardware store; Samantha is a cold and calculated killer. Horvath uses tactics similar to Dexter but also real-life Ted Bundy to draw in her victims in the nearby big city and dispose of the chopped body parts in the woods. Now, the catalyst event for this series doesn’t come from a victim of hers, but instead, when a local is killed and displayed in public, creating a sense of chaos and instability in her home. It’s a twisted storyline that isn’t an assumed cat and mouse with law enforcement but a dog-eat-dog story where Samantha tries to protect her carefully maintained little town from outsiders.

Horvath’s art style feels reminiscent of old-school children’s books such as Arthur or Frog and Toad, where the imagery is very clear and detailed paired with soft colors to create a warm and inviting feel to it. Most colors are light shades of brown, green, blue, and more neutral tones, but when Sam kills her victim, the red becomes more saturated and darker. Then, once the body is drained and cut into tiny pieces, the colors begin to neutralize again to return to a more comforting vibe. Horvath’s creative flexibility in being both writer and illustrator creates this false sense of security in the reader up to that point. Once it passes, everything begins to feel fake and dull for Samantha. That feeling is important to note because after the body of the locals is found, the reader can sense the shift in her character and how she will react for the rest of the series.

Final Verdict: 9.0 – This is a slightly unsettling story because of the contrast of the script and initial illustrations, but it is a strong debut for a new series to see what else will unfold in the hunt for the true killer.

Coda #2
Written by Simon Spurrier
Illustrated by Matías Bergara
Colored by Patricio Delpeche
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Reviewed by Quinn Tassin

“Coda” #2 is a bit of a mess. It’s dealing with interesting ideas, to be sure, but it has trouble balancing its two parallel threads while also building up the overall narrative. The strengths of the issue are relatively clear- this is a world that feels truly lived in and it’s constantly brimming with energy. Even with visuals that balance the more rough-and-tumble spirit of the world with its more fantastical nature, the universe Spurrier and Bergara have created puts a lot of other fantasy inventions to shame. We aren’t looking at intricate maps or reading glossaries here, but it’s hard to imagine not feeling deeply immersed in the world of “Coda.” Plus, Spurrier manages to give his main character a strong sense of ironic detachment while taking this world entirely seriously, a welcome development in an era of constant meta commentary. The issue is at its best when it’s following Hum. While he’s more passive than Serka thus far, the narrative is more straightforward when we’re reading his story. And it’s easier to tell where the story is going. We see what essentially amounts to a religious group, which spread lies about a prophecy last issue, form and start to take power and it becomes clear that we’re in the midst of a fantastical political thriller.

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The story shows its weaknesses in its attempts to make Serka’s story feel as important. She’s traveling with a group that seeks to wipe out evil, leaving chaos, destruction, and plenty of carcasses in their wake, as she works to reunite with Hum. While this subplot its actually even more innately intriguing than the religious sect taking power (tiny mouse guys killing in the name of fighting evil is hard not to find interesting), it’s just a smidge harder to follow and doesn’t get as much care as Hum’s thread. Thankfully, by the end of the Issue, Serka and Hum have reunited and each are ready to bring these halves of the overall narrative together. While what we’ve read so far has been interesting, but messy, it lays the groundwork for something much much better.

The artwork is far and away the best part of “Coda” #2. It’s easy to imagine a version of this series that leans too hard into either the griminess or to the fantasy elements, losing the other in the process. Here, there rough lines aplenty and the violence is intense. This seems like a world that people live in not just because of thoughtful set design (which this issue has), but because things are just kinda gross. At the same time, it’s filled with character designs that entirely embrace that this is a fantasy world. Characters are cartoonishly big or small or oddly shaped. A killer unicorn is both majestic and incredibly threatening. Plus, the coloring fills the world of “Coda” with all the colors of the rainbow while dialing them down just enough to make things feel a smidge more grounded. The result is a style that perfectly sets the tone of the issue and immerses readers immediately.

Final Verdict: 7.4- Beautiful art and a fundamentally interesting story make up for some of the structural deficiencies of “Coda” #2

Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong #1
Written by Brian Buccellato
Illustrated by Christian Duce
Colored by Luis Guerrero
Lettered by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt
Reviewed by Gregory Ellner

Crossover comics between franchises can be hit or miss. Unfortunately, “Justice League vs. Godzilla vs. Kong” #1 seems to fit into the latter category.

Brian Buccellato may have experience with these characters, especially the Flash, but it is hard to really see due to a near complete lack of any grasp of the characters’ voices, which is especially apparent with the villains. The Legion of Doom is hopelessly incompetent, with a leader who is rather childish in his words, and the allegedly smarter members of the group definitely do not seem as such. Furthermore, they seem geared to use technology from an entirely different mythos that likely should not even be present to achieve aims which are just as plausible with existing items, as if the story lacks a grasp of how different characters’ items actually work, are called, or if they would even be present in a certain location in the first place. In effect, it becomes a miracle that they can even survive, let along function as something resembling a team. Outside of the characterization, there is also the pacing, in which the same scene is repeated twice, without any actual changes, as if to use up page space rather than actually give new information.

Christian Duce does his best at the artwork, bringing together each scene in a scale that really shows how these characters fit into a world of titanic creatures. The illustrations are able to showcase emotion rather well, even making valiant (if doomed) efforts to save the script.

Similarly, the colors from Luis Guerrero are very lively, enhancing a variety of light sources to make the characters really pop out. From a coming night to broad daylight, it all comes across very well and accentuates the well-handled illustrations.

Final Verdict: 4.5- A simple introduction draws people into a fun new story.

//TAGS | Wrapping Wednesday

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