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Evenfall Vol. II: Soul to Keep
posted March 13, 2007
Blue Feather Press, paperback, April 2007, $9.95
Fantasy in comics is tough for reasons above and beyond the difficulties of making comics in the first place. There are two that I think apply directly to Pete Stathis' heartfelt effort Evenfall Vol. II: Soul to Keep
The level of representational art has been high enough and cognizant enough of fantasy picture-making that matching the expectations fans bring to such works might prove difficult. As a highly commercialized genre, so much work being published in comics and related media makes it harder than usual to find under-explored story territory in which to find fresh purchase.
I don't think that what Stathis accomplishes with his story of ghosts and family pressures and great evils and sudden rescues and lost languages and terrifying powers acting out of their own interests and promised betrayals is unique in the way that might attract new readers, not has it been realized in that pitch-perfect fashion that would compel old readers to think well of Evanfall
beyond the comfort and pleasure that regular readers seem to find in genre works they're predisposed to enjoy. Even the more traditional successful fantasies find ways to repackage and re-contextualize the same old stories, and here Stathis' conceptual work proves a little scattered. The world which the characters inhabit never takes on a life of its own; the reader needs everything explained not out of ignorance but out of an abundance of information, and the arbitrary way in which it's presented. The whole thing feels undercooked, the kind of meal that has to be explained course by course to those dining, and unless the reader is able to fill in the blanks by sharing in the language of the genre enough that the gaps can seem more like shorthand, I can't imagine their greatly looking forward to Volume III.