Writer: Bob Salley
Illustrator: Stan Yak
Colorist: Robert Nugent & Marco Pagnotta
Letterer: Justin Birch
Publisher: Source Point Press
WHAT IS IT?
Broken Gargoyles is an action-packed lamentation on the personal cost of war and society’s tendency to forget its defenders. An emotionally resonant tale set against a backdrop of alternate World War I history, and frightening Dieselpunk technology.
The world of Broken Gargoyles is strongly reminiscent of Phillip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle or the Wolfenstein videogames, while its personal story and stakes are akin to that of a Clint Eastward Spaghetti Western.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
William Manco may have returned from the war in Europe alive, but his mind is still haunted by the memory of the dead comrades he left there. Shell shock cost him his job, and now it’s pushing away his wife and only son. But he’s given an opportunity at redemption when he agrees to help the government with the manhunt of domestic-terrorist, Douglas Prescott, whom William last saw dying on the battlefields of Belgium.
Fate sets these two brothers-in-arms on a violent collision course; one fighting for redemption, the other for revenge. Old friends become enemies in this tragic tale of forgotten sacrifice and the human cost of war, set in an excitingly original Dieselpunk world in the aftermath of World War One.
But how did Prescott survive his mortal wounds? And will William be able to stop him before he can enact his plot? Or perhaps more importantly, when the pair finally meet again, will he want to?
Salley crafts an action-packed and consistently engrossing story of two brothers in arms caught on opposite sides of the law.
Dialogue is tight and beautifully structured to ensure every piece gives new insight into the speaker’s personality and motivations.
Douglas and William are well-balanced dual-protagonists, both the hero of his own story.
Yak’s modern comic art style is fantastic and versatile, capable of portraying both kinetic, stylized action and the emotional turmoil driving the characters.
Yak’s Dieselpunk machinery and character designs are genuinely cool and unsettling in equal measure.
The art shows visible improvement across the first three issues, and more adventurous panel layouts are used.
Nugent and Pagnotta’s color pallet contrasts vibrant cityscapes with earth-tone battlefields. Serving as a microcosm of the book's central conflict.
Switching to black and white artwork with photographic grain to denote flashbacks is creative and effective, enhancing the story’s gritty, Dieselpunk aesthetic.
Birch’s lettering is similarly experimental. Differing font styles give different characters unique voices, Douglas being a stand-out example.
The story is dark but not overly gratuitous, leaving enough to the imagination and carrying enough emotional depth to maintain your investment.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Yak’s art lacks depth in places early on, breaking immersion, but becomes more consistent after issue 1.
Scripts should have been edited more closely. A cliffhanger is contradicted between issues, and there are some minor typos in the lettering (this could have been fixed between our review copy and printing).
The larger action scenes are sometimes confusing and hard to follow due to lack of spatial detail.
Some side characters feel unnecessary. However, there’s enough here to suggest their inclusion will be justified by the end of the series.
Content warnings: One of the comic's themes deals with PTSD and, as such, it is consistently dark and violent in nature. I would not recommend this for young readers or those with a low tolerance for bloody violence/injury detail.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Broken Gargoyles is a raw and uncompromising tale of two broken men on a violent collision course in post-war America. It boasts exceptional action set pieces that will keep you on the edge of your seat but also hides enough depth to prevent the violence from feeling gratuitous. A well-paced script combined with high-level artwork makes Broken Gargoyles one of the best indie books in production right now.
The Dieselpunk setting is richly detailed and original, painting a macabre portrait of technological advancement and its ability to cause both joy and suffering in equal measure. Salley, Yak, and the team have a lot to say, and they’re determined to have a blast doing it.
If you’re looking for an exciting action epic that feels part Western and part Wolfenstein, then Broken Gargoyles will keep you hooked to the very last explosive page.
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