SWEET DOWNFALL, ISSUE #1
Writer: Stefano Cardoselli
Illustrator: Stefano Cardoselli
Publisher: Scout Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A mixture of the cyberpunk genre and a realistic dystopia, Sweet Downfall #1 is the blood-laden tale of a remodeled crash-test dummy named Jonny who works as a hitman but craves a more meaningful existence.
Think of Goodfellas with a healthy dose of Chappie robot energy.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In a future, mechanized version of the ocean-bound city of Santa Clara, Cuba, crime boss Don Vito Coriaci relies heavily on the cash earnings of Jonny, the ruthlessly weaponized robot. When Jonny -- the best in the business -- fails to deliver the cargo to Coriaci, the boss is anything but pleased.
In this crime-ridden, dystopian first issue brimming with ethical discourse and grotesque violence, Jonny the robot questions his greater purpose. But Don Coriaci refuses to rest until Jonny is found. Will Jonny betray the most powerful man in the city in order to find meaning in his life?
Stefano Cardoselli manages to balance both alluring storytelling and fascinatingly unique art in Sweet Downfall #1, which is quite an impressive accomplishment in the comic world.
I like how the narrative framing device features a grandmother telling Jonny's story to her grandchild. It's a successful dialogue box method, and the sweet narrative voice poignantly juxtaposes with the unbridled grotesqueness of the story being told.
Jonny doesn't have any dialogue himself, but the grandmother's strong narrative voice is utilized to project Jonny's thoughts onto the page. It leads you to wonder what the relationship the speaker has with Jonny, since she seems to externalize Jonny's inner emotions with great detail. Or this could just be a "story" the grandmother is telling. A lot of intrigue in the future plot is developing here.
Cardoselli's distinct art victoriously works with Rea's colors to establish an equilibrium between beauty and violence.
The art in Sweet Downfall #1 proves stunningly original, even apropos to Cardoselli's art in other comics.
All of Cardoselli's bloody gore uses distended linework to fabricate a shaky and disorienting feel. On the other hand, the wobbly lines outlining the whale ascending from the water evokes visual realism that enchants you.
The tone undulates from a bloody-action vibe to an emotional appreciation for beauty, but the jolting tone shifts never take you out of the story.
Meehan's lettering compltely matches the uneven tone and linework, letting Cardoselli's art and Rea's colors equally mold the story unfolding.
There's a lot of shock value that Cardoselli uses with his artwork that makes Sweet Downfall #1 a visual experiment in conveying both pathos and frantic action through imagery. The art will compel you to stop and take in every glorious detail.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Content Warning: This first issue has a lot of insane gore -- some implied -- that is certain not to let up during subsequent issues. If violent murder and gross images aren't your thing, you've been warned.
I would have appreciated more focus on Jonny as the protagonist, but his character development and motivations have strong hints of emerging soon in future issues.
The brutal chainsaw scene took up more panels than I would have preferred, personally. That could have been slightly condensed with more dialogue to further the story.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
A mashup of a gory crime thriller and an introspective cyberpunk narrative makes Sweet Downfall #1 a unique genre-defying comic. There's empathy and brutality, morality and reckless violence, but all these seemingly opposing themes work in tandem with each other. Jonny's character considers morality in a corrupt city defined by immorality, and you will be instantly drawn to his distinctive character.
Sweet Downfall #1 excels in taking advantage of the visual expressiveness that serves the comic medium so well. While the dialogue and plot of Sweet Downfall #1 are bound to entice readers, the enthrallingly unique art in this comic will appeal to your aesthetic sensibilities.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Sunshine Doom 1971 by Andrea Amenta & Stefano Cardoselli
Space Bastards by Joe Aubrey, Eric Peterson, & Darick Robertson
Father Robot by Kristopher White & Sam Garland
If you like the art:
Fish Eye by Massimo Rosi & Stefano Cardoselli
Hell Cross by Andrea Amenta & Stefano Cardoselli
Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Stefano Cardoselli – Writer & Illustrator
Multitalented: He works as both an illustrator and a writer, contributing his prolific talents to comics like Sunshine Doom 1971, Live Die Reload, and Tatters.
He has illustrated for several other Scout Comics, including Fish Eye, and Planet Caravan.
You can also find his work in Heavy Metal Magazine.
Panta Rea – Colorist
Rea works as an artist, colorist, and digital illustrator.
She has taken part in online monthly art challenges on her Instagram, @caffeinaerock.
Bram Meehan – Letterer
Multitalented: Meehan works as a comic book letterer while also providing design, logo, and production services.
Dream Team: He lettered and designed the logo for Planet Caravan while Cardoselli provided the art in the comic.
You can find more of his incredible lettering in comics like Tiberius, Worn, and Dandelion.
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