Writer: Umar Ditta Art: Carlos Pedro Publisher: Print of No Return
WHAT IS IT?
A new crime drama with some surreal or supernatural elements (that aren't totally clear, yet).
Think of it like The Godfather meets Frailty.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The Family is basically the local mafia. They own the town. Run it. They call each other names like "Uncle" and "Brother."
Lad is one of their number. He's young and fairly inexperienced, and it seems like he falls pretty low in the pecking order of power, judging by how he's treated by others. He also gets visions. Visions of things that may or may not exist. Visions that others can't see.
As Lad grapples with this strange surreality, the rest of The Family searches for The Hermit, an entity (or just a man?) who lives out in The Forest, where The Family do not tread. Not until today, when Dad, leader of The Family, showed up half-dead just outside its perimeter.
Where is The Hermit? Was he really the one who hurt Dad? Why? And what are these strange things Lad sees?
One of the things I thought worked really, really well in this comic is the credits page with the two paragraphs, catching us up on what we need to know. It gives us a sense of lore and history, of characters and machinations that existed before we got there. I actually had to do research to make sure this wasn't a new run in an established series, it just felt alive, and the storytelling was so confident.
The previous bullet also allows LAD to start later in the story without having to spend time laying the groundwork. This means we get to the interesting part much quicker, right from the first issue.
Writer Umar Ditta knows starting deep into the story might be confusing, even with the aforementioned description, and weaves in character names and descriptions, gang hierarchy, and characters' dynamics between one another seamlessly to get the reader caught up without it feeling obvious or like a history lesson.
Carlos Pedro makes excellent use of white space and texture for things like cherub skin or bright beams of light. Confusion stemming from the lack of color never feels like an issue, especially with the aid of Pedro's character design work and Ditta's well-established voices for each character.
Speaking of texture, Carlos Pedro illustrates LAD gorgeously, getting an impressive amount of texture into each panel without them ever seeming overburdened with line work. He also switches up the vantage point (or "camera angle") in panels to keep things visually interesting.
The black-and-white also helps LAD seem darker, filled with stars and shadows. The splash page below is an excellent example of this.
In one instance, we get a caption introducing us to a character. It's a little strange, since we got these introductions through dialogue for all the others, it almost feels like a break from the comic's style. That being said, I personally appreciated it, since I like knowing who characters are as early as possible and wouldn't want the dialogue to bend over backward to work in a way to introduce him when it could end up feeling mechanical and inauthentic.
I liked how letterer Kerrie Smith brought back the typeface from the below credits page for the sound effects later in the issue. It's like it created a visual identity for the title. Also, the tiny "beep" sound effects as a constant in the background and between panels gave this constant, ever-present reminder that they're in the hospital and that Dad is in critical condition because of these events. It's almost like a driving beat for Lad, playing up his emotions and motivating him to action.
Love the globe bar in one of the scenes – I have one at home!
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Lots of strong language in this. Also, strippers. Probably not the best comic for younger folks.
The comic doesn't have color, if that bothers you. While seeing Dearbhla Kelly on a comic for only design but not color makes me long for what could have been, Kelly's design is great and the line art is strong enough in Carlos Pedro's capable hands that color isn't necessary.
We get a few small grammatical issues, lettering missteps with using crossbar “I,” leading between lines where text sits right atop the next line, and using stroke weight to convey tone/volume when balloon effects might have been clearer – nothing that really takes you out of the moment (probably), but still things that could be cleaned up.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Lad: The Homecoming bridges dark fantasy and surreal elements with hardboiled mafia-esque elements for a uniquely intriguing comic.
I don't know where Ditta, Pedro and team are taking us, and that's exactly what makes LAD so promising. Well, that and a talented creative team and thrilling mysteries that'll set their hooks in you by the end of the issue.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Untethered by Umar Ditta & Elliot Balson
Savage Town by Declan Shalvey & Philip Barrett
God Country by Donnie Cates & Geoff Shaw
If you like the art:
Elephantmen by Richard Starkings & Carlos Pedro
Stray Bullets by David Lapham
Bog Bodies by Declan Shalvey & Gavin Fullerton
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Umar Ditta – Writer
Multitalented: Also has experience as a digital marketer
Master of the dance floor
Nicest dude ever
Carlos Pedro – Artist
Outlander: Lives in Portugal
Multitalented: Wrote, drew and self-published "SOLOMON", a 36-page black-and-white comic
Dream Team: Worked on pitches for two series written by LAD's editor, Hugo Boylan: Collidoscope and Inge
Kerrie Smith – Letterer
Multitalented: Graphic design is also within her wheelhouse, and she co-wrote the webcomic Superhero Help Desk
Outlander: Hails from Dublin, Ireland
Dearbhla Kelly – Design
Multitalented: Also does graphic design, illustration, motion graphics, branding, editorial & commercial work
Would love to color a New Mutants comic, hint-hint Marvel!
Hugo Boylan – Editor
Talks a lot about editing LAD on his website: check it out
Outlander: Also lives in Dublin!
Multitalented: Also writes comics
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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