Writer: David Pepose Art: Gavin Guidry Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
WHAT IS IT?
A heist gone wrong wrapped up in a romantic comedy. It's a horde of strong personalities in an absurd action movie.
Think any Tarantino film meets... no, that's it, it's a Tarantino film.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Emily and Jesse's wedding is now a volatile hostage negotiation. With the cops outside threatening to force their way in and the guests fighting back any way they can, things are looking hard for the Bad Elvis Gang.
The only hope they have of salvaging the situation is to get help from the strangest of places: The Bride. Emily's relationship with the bank robbers is revealed in flashbacks and the question shifts from "Will Emily help the Gang escape?" to "Will she join them once this is all said and done?"
The cover art, all of it, from the official to the variants, is gorgeous and dynamic, setting a wonderful tone for the story as a whole. Good job to all of the artists involved.
David Pepose's logo design is remarkable. The script is evocative of love and weddings and sweetness, and "CHAPEL" is in bold caps. While it makes sense from a layout standpoint (it's the one word in the title that you can sink your teeth into), it's also announcing that it's a recurring theme in the comic. Plus, the "A" looks like it's in the shape of an old chapel with the wedding bell shot out. The logo alone tells you everything you need to know about the plot of the book!
Gavin Guidry continues to deliver with his expressive characters and clean lines (even as everyone has a jawline cut from marble). In a book as action-focused as this one, it's important that the visuals stay comprehensible while being explosive and animated. Guidry toes that line with beautiful finesse.
The FX often go big and dramatic, just a little over-the-top, matching the tone of the comic. Some are well incorporated into panels while others are more traditionally placed over the art. But they create a dynamic and immersive experience that feels larger than life.
David Pepose is skilled at creating real human tension even in silly situations. The bombastic action doesn't distract from the very real inner conflict in the protagonist's mind.
The improvised weaponry and increasingly desperate actions of the gang, the hostages, and the police show off a clever and interesting internal logic that helps the comic feel spontaneous and unpredictable.
Even in the face of its loud action-oriented style, the storytelling remains subtle and expressive in many instances. The script does a good job of spelling out what it needs to and trusting the audience when it can get away with it.
Letterer Ariana Maher does work in every issue, selling complex character traits and delivering the best punchlines with her outside-the-box approach to lettering.
Liz Kramer's color choices vary by scene venue or mood. As Emily gets ready, she's surrounded by these floral, feminine colors. Jesse's scenes look darker and more masculine by comparison. Her purples and yellows and pinks soften the book a little, making it feel a little lighter, like things will be OK by the end of the story. They feel right at home as a palette chosen for a wedding.
Kramer makes good use of radiating lines to show worry or enhance action scenes to hit harder.
The cadence of the story feels very cinematic. You get an intriguing hook and some music that leads into the credits, then you meet the central characters and understand who they are and what their motivations are. Scenes play out similarly, sometimes dividing one panel into two to show the passage of time or "movement of the camera" within a single space.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
The dialogue tries to be really clever and, again, Tarantino-esque. Whether you think it succeeds will determine whether the book works for you or not. If you find that it hits, you'll have a really good time with the comic; if not, you'll probably be rolling your eyes a lot. Personally, I can't say with confidence that it'll pull this trick off with every reader.
There are some gaps in the internal logic of the piece that will take the reader out of the story (eg, a character is drugged with Ambien, then gets up and starts doing complex actions two pages later). There's just a touch of sloppiness that makes it hard to get invested in the greater narrative.
Almost every character could use a bit more fleshing out. Everyone has a quirk of some kind to make them distinct, but Emily is the only character that feels complex or human in any meaningful way.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Whatever its flaws, Going to the Chapel has a compelling central conflict, a fun setting, and paces itself like a '90s action flick starring Keanu Reeves. It's inventive, high octane, and thrilling in spite of its cheezy nature.
This comic wears its influences on its sleeve, so if you like action flicks, Tarantino scripts, and genre-bending rom-coms, this is definitely the comic for you.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Spencer & Locke, Vol. 1 by David Pepose & Jorge Santiago, Jr.
4 Kids Walk Into A Bank by Matthew Rosenberg & Tyler Boss
Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction
If you like the art:
The Death Defying by Christopher Sebela & Gavin Guidry
Sirens Call by Kevin Pass & Liz Kramer
Death or Glory by Rick Remender & Bengal
ABOUT THE CREATORS
David Pepose – Writer
Multitalented: Currently developing properties for film, TV & comics out in LA
Has also worked for CBS, Netflix, Universal Studios and DC Comics
Originally from St. Louis, where your favorite Comic Book Yeti lives
Gavin Guidry – Artist
Drew a historical graphic novel for State of Louisiana's Museum Systems about the Battle of New Orleans
New Face: For someone so clearly talented, it doesn't seem like he's done too many full-length comics
Liz Kramer – Colorist
Multitalented: Currently works for Lee Enterprises as a Senior Designer while making comics in her spare time
Enjoys learning new skills, listening to podcasts and audiobooks, reading comics, attending conventions, crafting, and watching movies
Ariana Maher – Letters
Often talks about the lettering process and theory on her Twitter account (@CommentAiry) and gives advice to letterers just starting out
Opinion: Is one of my favorite people in comics
Colin Bell – Letterer
Multitalented: Has also written a couple of comics, one of which (Dungeon Fun) won a SICBA award
Outlander: Lives in Scotland
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