SILVER CITY, ISSUE #1
Updated: Jun 24, 2021
Writer: Olivia Cuartero-Briggs
Illustrator: Luca Merli
WHAT IS IT?
After a woman dies, she ends up in a purgatorial version of the afterlife without any memories of her death. Silver City #1 is a supernatural mystery comic rocking a punk aesthetic.
Take Beetlejuice's death-riddled plot and intersperse the topsy-turvy reality dichotomy of good vs. evil from The Good Place, and you've landed in Silver City.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
A plane crashes into a group of awaiting passengers inside an airplane terminal, killing them all instantly. Among these victims is Ru, a hard-hearted woman with a reluctant countenance. Ru, her partner Sticks, a little girl named Junie, and the rest of the airport group awakens posthumously in a metropolis called Silver City.
Ru seems more bothered than the others about the circumstances of their death. She can't remember how she died, but preserves a few memories of her less-than-ideal past in life. On top of that, the administrative proceedings in Silver City feel cold and clinical. Ru wants to uncover Silver City's secrets – and in the process, maybe she'll unearth secrets about herself.
Silver City may not be Hell, but it sure as hell isn't heaven.
Noticeably, writer Olivia Cuartero-Briggs appears to have acquired the talent of world-building. In only the first issue, Cuartero-Briggs makes Silver City's outer mechanisms ostensible to the reader. Expository dialogue paces the story in such a manner that the readers are learning information along with the characters inhabiting this new setting.
Luca Merli's illustrations bring Silver City's cutthroat, clinical atmosphere to life. Merli particularly excels in detailing environmental/setting scenes through wide-shot views often occupying a whole page of the comic. The first three pages alone establish his talent for wide-scale splash page drawings.
Different settings necessitate varying color tones in Silver City. Merli swatches Silver City in mixtures of grey and green, making the metropolis appear foggy. Meanwhile, Merli enhances the feeling of dancing with danger through a red timbre pulsing with glowing yellow lights at the Afterthoughts bar.
Dave Sharpe's lettering expertise runs the gamut immediately on the first three opening pages. From general dialogue looking thick and crisp in speech balloons, to the background art cutting through the "KABAAM!" SFX, Sharpe's lettering enriches the reading experience.
Cuartero-Briggs's expository dialogue paces the story in such a manner that readers learn crucial information along with the characters inhabiting their new setting.
Mystery surrounding the correlation between Ru's background as a foster child and her apparent death hits the target by building intrigue and a reader connection to Ru's character.
A huge contributing factor to Silver City's readability is Cuartero-Briggs' attention to voice. Character dialogue comes across naturally. Ru's dialogue enforces her walled persona but her confusion relates her vulnerability. Mick and Victor's syntax and humorous interactions tangibly relay their personalities – and accents!
The narrative switches time periods with flashbacks, and Merli's tactile illustrations portend plot points. His stylized drawings and color palettes change just enough to corroborate the tone of either Silver City locations/time periods or Ru's foggy memories.
Lines fading off into the shadows around serpentine building structures evinces the gothic tenor percolating in Silver City.
Sharpe's lettering is always communicative, even during panels where speech balloons with musical lyrics expand to surround the accompanying sheet music notes.
The idea of a bureaucratic afterlife where people receive tracking numbers and are forced to attend an orientation is so ridiculously ironic, it's genius!
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: This comic contains depictions of off-page mass death. Silver City #1 takes place in a version of purgatory (if that wasn't clear by now). Religion is not discussed in this context, but religious individuals should be aware of the setting.
Lyrics to the famous song "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" appear throughout the comic. While the song thematically fits with the tone of this issue, perhaps a less-used tune with equally relevant lyrics would have avoided the song feeling like a cliché.
Events occur at a rapid-fire pace, which could border on leaving some readers momentarily confused. No words should be glossed over in this comic – and there are a hefty amount of words present here.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
In the backup pages of Silver City #1, Olivia Cuartero-Briggs reveals that this comic was originally intended to be written as a novel. This makes complete sense when you read this first issue story. All the narrative beats are present, characters feel completely rounded, and the comic has a natural flow with turns like a novel. As much as I would love to read more than just the few preview pages of the novel included, we are so fortunate to read Silver City in comic book format!
Silver City #1 contains trenchant visuals elucidating the narrative. Uniformity in dialogue, illustrations, and lettering present a comic flourishing with both saliency and gravitas. Interjecting punk-inspired illustrations among harrowing government buildings speaks volumes to the contrasting ideals in Silver City. Silver City #1 constructs a lavishly illustrated narrative full of lore while exploring a vision of posthumous life and byproducts of losing your sense of identity.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Mary Shelley Monster Hunter Vol. 1 by Olivia Cuartero-Briggs, Adam Glass, & Hayden Sherman
High Heaven by Tom Peyer & Greg Scott
Phantom on the Scan by Cullen Bunn & Mark Torres
If you like the art:
West Legends Vol. 3 by Olivier Peru & Luca Merli
Project: Patron by Steve Orlando & Patrick Piazzalunga
Nuclear Family by Stephanie Phillips & Tony Shasteen
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Olivia Cuartero-Briggs – Writer (@oliviacbriggs)
New Face: Olivia is a writer of both comics and television.
She has written for television series Queen of the South, The Arrangement, and worked as a writing assistant for Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.
She is a native New Yorker and currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
Luca Merli – Illustrator (@chanson.noir)
Multitalented: Luca works as an illustrator, a comic book artist, and has ties to the theatre community.
He does both inking and coloring, working with Disney Pixar and Panini.
Outlander: He was born in Tuscany, Italy.
Dave Sharpe – Colorist (@DaveLSharpe)
Dave attended and graduated from the Joe Kubert school in 1990. Immediately following graduation, he went to work at Marvel comics as an in-house, letterer.
Prolific: He has lettered hundreds of Marvel comics, like Spider-Girl, Exiles, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, and The Defenders. He has been lettering for DC since 2009.
Music Lover: Dave plays metal bass guitar!
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