BROKEN GARGOYLES: SIN & VIRTUE, ISSUE #1
Writer: Bob Salley & Dr. Christy Blanch
Illustrators: Mike Lilly & Stan Yak
Publisher: Source Point Press
WHAT IS IT?
Broken Gargoyles: Sin and Virtue is the follow-up series to last year's Broken Gargoyles, which sees new characters taking the fore and continues expansion of both world and character histories. Sin and Virtue builds upon the foundation of its predecessor to examine how war affects not only veterans, but the families they leave back home.
The series' alternate history themes are comparable to Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, while Sin and Virtue #1 sets up a story akin to a grittier The Magnificent Seven.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Sin and Virtue continues the story of William Manco and Doug Prescott’s gang of veterans, following their climactic desert battle. Having failed in his mission to apprehend Prescott, Manco meets forcibly retiring US Marshall Mathers, whose final job is the capture of escaped draft dodgers.
Meanwhile, Prescott and his gang take it upon themselves to help the widow of an old brother in arms, who is being harassed by the bank. Along the way, we learn more about other members of the gang, and how war has impacted each man differently.
Manco and Prescott are once again maneuvered into two separate causes, fated to intersect during the course of the series. Can Mathers catch up with the escaped convicts? And will Manco get another shot at Prescott, if the bank doesn’t bring him down first?
Salley, now joined by Dr. Blanch, once again crafts a compelling narrative that maneuvers the two protagonists into opposition in a natural way.
Mike Lilly’s art is excellent. It skillfully walks the tightrope of being new and fresh, while also remaining similar to the previous series as to not feel jarring for old readers.
Nugent’s colors seem brighter than before, setting the tone of Sin & Virtue apart from its predecessor in a subtle way.
Birch’s letters are excellent once again. The different styles of lettering for different types of speakers are excellent and are consistent with the new information we learn about the characters in this latest installment.
Flashback design continues to be a series highlight. The clarity of the design has improved since the last issue while retaining its unique aesthetic.
The dialogue feels natural. Salley and Dr. Blanch maintain a consistent voice for each member of the ensemble cast, despite the addition of a new writer.
More time is given to explore other members of Prescott’s team, with Prescott and Manco taking somewhat of a back seat, giving us more reason to care about the wider cast.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Inconsistent use of the established flashback style makes some scenes jarring.
The balance feels off between the two concurrent narratives. Manco doesn’t do anything, so devoting the whole issue to Prescott’s gang may have improved the pacing.
The black-and-white flashback is unnecessarily long and contributes to the awkward pacing.
[Editor's Note:] Having a character named "Marshall Mathers" intentionally or unintentionally may make some readers think of the famous rapper of the same name (AKA Eminem), which may take said readers out of the moment or make it more difficult to take the character seriously.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Broken Gargoyles: Sin and Virtue #1 sets out in a new direction, slowing things down and taking time to explore new themes through the eyes of the series’ brilliant side characters. It may not offer the same action spectacle of previous issues, but the emotional journey is well worth the ride.
Instead of examining the psychological effects of PTSD on the soldiers who fought, Sin and Virtue noticeably pivots to examine both racism and sexism on the Homefront. This creates a different tone for the series that is less gruesome but equally harrowing.
Broken Gargoyles has always been a must-buy for comics fans and this latest installment is no different. It serves as a well-crafted palate-cleanser for the first arc while continuing the overarching story in an emotionally resonant way.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Broken Gargoyles (2020) by Bob Salley & Stan Yak.
Sara (2018) by Garth Ennis & Steve Epting
Uber (2013) by Kioren Gillen & Caanan White.
If you like the art:
Vampirella Revelations (2005) by Mike Carrey & Mike Lilly.
Cult of Dracula (2021) by Rich Davis & Henry Martinez
Lady Mechanika (2010) by Joe Benitez
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Bob Salley (@Bob_Salley) – Writer
A Boston-based writer & editor known for his work on the Broken Gargoyles series, Salvagers, and Shelter Division.
Also the author of the children’s book series, Eventide Fairies.
Dr. Christy Blanch (@christyblanch) – Writer
Known for their work on Tales of the Crypt, Aw Yeah Comics, Monster Dojo, and The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood.
Owns Aw Yeah Comics in Muncie, Indiana.
Mike Lilly (@mikelillyart) – Artist
A New York City-based artist known for his large body of cover and interior work, most notably his work on Vampirella, Annihilation Conquest Quasar, Detective Comics, and Marvel Knights.
Won I-CON 25’s ‘Art Show Award of Excellence' for his work on Vampirella Revelations.
Stan Yak – Artist
Robert Nugent (@Rnugentcolors) – Colorist
Artist and colorist known for his work on indie comics such as Traitor’s Gate and Book of Monsters, for Broken Icon Comics.
Winner of the ASHCAN award for ‘Best Colorist of 2016’.
Justin Birch (@JustinBirch) – Lettering
A West Virginian native, known for his huge body of work with DC, IDW, ANDWORLD, Vault Comics, and many more.
Was nominated for the Ringo Award in 2018.
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