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The Dependents #1 – Review

Martin Fisher (Writer/Creator), Ben Hansen (Penciler), Levi Skeen (Inker)

This black and white offering from Alterna Comics opens up with a question on the nature of relationships, for young Tara Morgan is involved in a rather complicated dependent relationship. At a lonely, low point in her life, when she really needs someone, a blob-like entity engulfs her. This entity exists inside Tara but needs to release itself periodically. The complication is that when this entity assumes control it becomes a taloned, blood-thirsty killing machine. Tara is acutely aware of the creature’s nature and becomes a fugitive while trying to figure out a way to coexist with its insatiable need for blood. Tara resolves in attempting to turn the creature towards a useful purpose with mixed results and an effective cliffhanger ending.

I can’t claim to have liked this book when I initially read it, but I nevertheless felt strangely drawn to it. So I’ve re-read it a few times and it’s grown on me. It has its weak points, but it has some strong points as well. I like that Martin Fisher wastes no time in getting his story started. Within the first three pages we have a sense of who the lead character is and what has happened to her. As the story progresses we get a good sense of the inner turmoil and struggle between Tara and the entity that now resides inside her.

One of the strengths of the artwork is in the storytelling. We get a nice variety of layouts, settings, and camera angles. The creature, particularly in its first full manifestation, looked pretty cool. There is enough here to keep the story moving along smoothly and to keep the eye interested. In addition, Levi Skeen seems to have a nice feel for the black and white medium. He provides nice textures and his inking is a plus for the book.

On the other hand, I wasn’t clear from the beginning if Tara was a college student or a high school student. From her style of dress I would have guessed high school, but from the school setting I would have guessed college. I had to read up on Alterna’s website to learn that she is 16. I think that should have been clearer, she seems pretty street smart and savvy for a 16 year old. While I liked the storytelling and the inking there are times when the artwork lacks sophistication, particularly in the longer shots of the human figure and the faces of the characters. I’ll readily admit that the artwork was one of the stumbling blocks for me to overcome after my first reading.

I did find the ending compelling. I want to find out what happens so I will be reading and reviewing the second issue. There is enough of interest here to bring me back and see where it goes. Best of all is that you can download the book for yourself for free to check it out. Head on over to Alterna Comics’ website and look for the downloads, you’ve got nothing to lose. There is definitely some real potential here. (Grade: B-)

- Arthur Cooke

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