By Ashley Gibbs
When people usually think of comic books they think of the many spandex-clad heroes that constantly save the world and mainstream movies only enforce this. While I do love a good superhero romp, sometimes it’s nice to a read a comic that tells a different story. Skin & Earth #1 is the brainchild of Canadian musician Lights that ties into her upcoming album of the same name. The story being told links up with the album using both a visual and audio medium to engage fans. The first single "Giants" is currently available, as is the music video and you can instantly see the connection. It’s an interesting approach to comics and always positive to see women share their talents in what is a very male-dominated area.
Readers are taken to a post-apocalyptic world where big corporations are in charge and society is hanging on by a thread. The main character, Enaia Jin, goes to college on the nice part of town despite being from the area where the poor and destitute live. It’s a harsh world where no one cares about the suffering of others and Enaia, called En, is subjected to harsh prejudices. It’s a story about a woman trying to find hope in a hopeless world and finding herself along the way. While En is clearly a self-insert for the author, Light, she seems to have a distinct personality and so far I have found her to be interesting. I don’t know much about Light to know how far they differ but I believe En’s love of wine is definitely a nod to her creator. The story is set in a dark world but this first issue does have some happy notes to it, though I feel it’s a setup for things to go wrong for En shortly.
The world around En is very monotone and she right away stands out for her red hair, or as I like to call it, “main character syndrome.” This isn’t a new technique or one I dislike but it’s one that I find simplistic. Either way, because the world is so monotone most things look really boring even in the nice area of town. It conveys a very grim world to live in and helps readers relate to En’s sense of hopelessness. The art style itself is alright, it’s not bad and is pretty good for someone who isn’t a professional but I can’t say it’s what's drawing me to this title. My main complaint would be the character models, I’m not sure if it’s because of the horrible world they live in but everyone seemed anemic. Also, at times, facial expressions could have been smoother.
I found Skin & Earth #1 to be an interesting read. It’s certainly outside of my comfort zone but still enjoyable. I’d love to see more women in comics and more stories that stray from the norm, and mixing in a tie-in album is a very interesting idea. For a first issue it’s a good start and keeps me interested in what will happen next time. I want to learn more about En and the world around her and see if there really is any hope to be found. It’s a basic concept that everyone can relate to, no matter where we live or our situations, we all want some hope and better days.
Skin & Earth #1
Writer & Artist: Lights
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment