Greetings and salutations fans of the sequential art medium! Today we’ve got a very special review in store for you, which is not to say that every review isn’t special, but that this one…also…is. Ehem. That’s right gang, today we will be taking a look at Volume 1 of Aldous Spark: Meddler in History and Other Unsavory Affairs. Boy, that title sure is a mouth full isn’t it? Well, luckily for us readers (::fixes glasses::) that also means this first volume of Aldous Spark: Meddler in History and Other Unsavory Affairs (referred to as Aldous Spark from this point forth) is jam-packed with action, adventure, brilliant artwork, and tons of extras! So without further ado, continue reading in a downward fashion for our spoiler-free look at Aldous Spark!
First things first: this book is huge. It is presented in oversized, hardcover format which means that not only does the book look absolutely tremendous, but it also doubles as a blunt object in the event that the reader is attacked by monsters or skeletons, or any variety of nefarious creature of the night. The back of the book includes a message from writers Andrew Maxwell and Peter Miriani which goes into some detail about its creation. From conceptualization and the infancy of Aldous Spark’s character, to the inspirations behind the story itself, we get a nice look at the process by which the creative team put this behemoth of a book together; and what an undertaking it was. For an independent, creator-owned comic to make its debut in a format such as this is no easy feat, and it’s plain to see that the creative team like to make some bold moves!
Aldous Spark thrusts the reader into the world of the Black Moth Society, which is a clandestine operation that secretly battles a corrupt power structure in the year 1899. Our hero Aldous Spark and his trusty sidekick/apprentice Isaiah are agents of the Black Moth Society, and in this first volume they stumble upon a conspiracy involving the Vatican and their own shadowy operatives known as the Red Priests. It seems that the Vatican is attempting to cover up some rather suspect activities, which leads the Red Priests and Aldous on a collision course in search of the missing “Frasconi Papers.”
Along the way we meet a thief named Marla who has an interesting relationship with Aldous. Apparently Marla likes to follow Aldous on his adventures and thwart his efforts, yet the two seem to maintain a somewhat shaky friendship despite that fact. Marla has no allegiance to the Black Moth Society, but her skills are such that she can serve as a valuable asset to Aldous at times. Their relationship provides some humorous moments throughout the book, while also providing tension as Marla’s thieving nature makes her pretty darned untrustworthy. I quite enjoyed this aspect of the book and hope to see lots more interactions between Aldous and Marla in future installments.
We are also introduced to Ariceli, or Ari, who is an agent of the Black Moth Society. Something I found funny about Aldous’ relationships with these attractive women (writer’s actual opinion) was that any time Isaiah would inquire as to how Aldous knows them in the first place, Aldous would just brush it off and act all aloof. Aldous Spark: secret George Clooney? All these relationships will most likely be explained going forward, but let’s not rule out the possibility that Aldous is in fact some sort of expert ladies man. Fingers crossed friends, fingers crossed.
Of course we must not forget Aldous Spark and Isaiah. The interactions between Aldous and his apprentice are well written and often very funny. When introducing Isaiah to Marla, Aldous says “he’s okay, I guess” in response to Marla’s comment that Isaiah is a “smart kid.” Make no mistake, Aldous Spark is a brilliant man but his zeal seems to cloud his judgement at times. In one such instance Aldous is telling Isaiah of all the “wonders” on the streets of London, oblivious to the fact that the streets are full of lawbreakers and opium junkies, which Isaiah quite bluntly points out to Aldous.
The script for Aldous Spark is not typical as it is a collaborative effort between Andrew Maxwell and Peter Miriani. The script never feels disjointed as one might assume since there are two writers with two brains (I think), but it’s clear that Maxwell and Miriani work extremely well together. The story is full of action, adventure and humor, and it’s just great fun to read. Aldous Spark is a fantastic character and all the peripheral characters are equally as interesting (and fantastic!), so virtually every scene throughout the book is a pleasure to read.
The artwork in Aldous Spark is a done by Mauricio Alvarez with colors by Derek Dow, and boy oh boy does it look absolutely spectacular. The amount of time and effort that was put into each page really shows on this one, gang. Admittedly, I can be easy to please when it comes to artwork but this book features some of the best I’ve seen in recent times. Everything from the character designs and costumes, to the gadgets and locales is incredibly atmospheric, and the whole world of Aldous Spark feels so very alive.
Additional work is provided by Bernardo Brice (letters), Sonia Harris (variant cover) and Adam Pruett (additional designs). The “Spark Journal” design at the back of the book is provided by Justin Cornell, which is a very cool addition for a project of this magnitude.
So what does this all boil down to? If you are a fan of adventure, espionage and conspiracies then Aldous Spark is most certainly for you. I can also safely recommend this book to just about anyone who likes to step outside of the superhero realm of comics and try new and exciting things, as long as the reader is of a certain age. There is some slight “language,” as they say, and some of the situations in the book may be just a little too heavy for much younger readers. To get your own copy of Aldous Spark visit ComiXology today and then go ahead and follow Grenade Fight Inc. on Facebook for updates on Aldous Spark and their other books!
Will you be picking up your own copy of Aldous Spark? If you’ve read it, what did you think? Let us know in the comments section or on our Twitter page!