Wednesday, June 12, 2013

CODA is in the books!

It feels a little pointless to discuss a book that was released several weeks ago now, but since the material will find its way into a trade paperback at the end of the year, let's think of it as a preview and forge ahead with some observations.

8-Ball was not among my favourite characters when I first discovered the HotN, but he has quickly become one.  Including his appearances in the web series, he has the most clearly-defined relationships with the various other members.  There's obvious mutual respect between he and The Canadian, the amusing back and forth teasing with Nordik, and he may be the only character even capable of teaming up with Black Terror on occasion.  The Canadian is the team's leader but 8-Ball brings the whole thing together.  He's developed into a very flexible character.

While he sometimes shares the load, Yann Brouillette writes every story in the book (even letters some of them) and shows a lot of versatility in doing so.  You never really know what you're going to get next.  You might read a dark, moody, violent story about 8-Ball stopping a corrupt city official's abuse of power, then flip the page to humour involving the New FLQ.  The story might be 20 pages long, or it might be all of two pages in total.  The unpredictable story structure helps keep these books interesting.

Moving from stories to art...You know who's good?  Geof Isherwood is good.

For one thing, I'm impressed by someone who is able to draw a wide variety of facial expressions.  Isherwood has that skill down.

He also occasionally includes certain details that not every artist will.  Here's what I think is a good example: Look at the picture of Nordik below (easiest thing you'll do all day...)

Now have a look at her posture on the page scan below, particularly the first panel, from the first story in the book.

Isherwood draws a story further into the book which features Madame Doom.  Doom doesn't have that prominent back arch that Nordik has above. "Nordik drawn" looks like "Nordik live".  Madame Doom does not.  Isherwood avoids cookie cutter art.  As a fan, I love that.

There was another instance where the attention to detail was appreciated.  In the Madame Doom story mentioned above, close ups of Doom show the scarring past the edges of her mask.  Not every artist would bother including it, but that scarring is a significant factor in her character so it shouldn't be ignored.  Isherwood's ability with facial expressions was often on display in that story as well.

Isherwood doesn't have a monopoly on eye-catching art detail, mind you.  The maple leaf pattern on the sole of Black Terror's boot was a nice touch by Olivier Raymond. ;-)

Now then...I guess it can't be considered a spoiler anymore if the HotN posted it on their own Facebook page but flashbacks aside, that should be the last that we see of Nordik after this book (and perhaps episode 20 of the web series) right?

Well...I'm not convinced.  There is too much of a genetic manipulation element to these stories for me to buy into the notion that Nordik is gone.

Is THIS Nordik done?  Heroes of the North claim that when their heroes die, they stay dead, and I believe them.  But there are ways around that self-imposed rule and I look forward to seeing which one is applied in this case.  ;-)

Great read again, HotN!  Bring on the trade paperback!

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