By: Brandon Seifert (story), Karl Moline (pencils), Rick Magyar (inks), Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colors)
The Story: Never mix reading with lacrosse.
The Review: As you could probably tell, I wasn’t all that impressed with the first issue of this series. This isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker; plenty of stories need an issue or two—or more—before they get their sea legs. You don’t always have to take a running leap from the very beginning, so long as you can prove that the premise or the characters are interesting enough to see how they come along. Seekers of the Weird didn’t quite manage that.
Even more troubling, the second issue isn’t much of an improvement, either. From the character side of things, Melody, Maxwell, and Roland haven’t gotten any more personable, remaining as flat as they were initially rendered. Maybe this is the “All Ages” curse rearing its head, but Melody and Maxwell seem particularly generic as tomboy and bookworm. When Roland explains their mission going forward, Maxwell remarks nervously, “This sounds like a lot of…exercise.”
“And homework,” adds a petulant Melody. (Later, in the Museum’s library, she stares in dismay at all the books around her and cries, “You did mean homework. Boo!”)
Roland isn’t much better, forced in the trappings of the bossy eccentric to scathe and mentor his niece and nephew by turns. While I’m glad (sort of) that he didn’t actually die, as he appeared last month, I still think it wasn’t the best choice for Seifert to cripple him so early on. You can understand why Seifert did it: to let Maxwell and Melody get active early on. But they’re no less shadowed by Roland now than they would have been had he kept his legs, and it’s pretty difficult to get past Roland’s waspish exterior when he hasn’t demonstrated much of his alleged “swashbuckling” fashion.
So we’re not really getting anywhere with the characters thus far. What about the plot? Well, it isn’t much, but it works: in the world of Weird, the key players are divided into Wardens, who defend against supernatural dangers, and the Shadow Society, who do the opposite. This is fine, for a start; Seifert can always devise more specific motivations for the characters later. The critical question is whether Seifert can bring enough imagination and daring to these supernatural dangers to make the war between Warden and Society worthy reading.
In my mind, one of the gold standards of supernatural invention is John Rozum’s Xombi, with its floating skull castles, and shrinking nuns, and pearls of wisdom, and so many other wonderful ideas. Walking armchairs and books that can form into a golem seem pretty tame by comparison, while mummies* and ghosts are merely stock characters. It’s hard to tell if the lack of imagination is due to Seifert or the restrictions of the “All Ages” rating, but either way, this is baby stuff for the grown reader.
With Moline, you get a stronger sense that the need for a broad appeal is limiting his linework. There are quite a few panels which reveal a more sophisticated, finely-tuned Moline, such as the last page reveal of three ghostly Wardens, done up in a nice, pulpy style. If the whole issue looked like this, and if Moline could put more lavish effort into the scenery and props, Seekers of the Weird could be a visual treat, at least, even if the script never rises to the same level. As is, Moline delivers mostly enjoyable, if safe and simplified, work.
Conclusion: At least now we’re getting some context, though Seifert fails to turn the issue into the adventure powerhouse it advertises itself to be.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Roland refers to them as “Husks,” but other than the amber eyes, it’s hard to see any difference from the typical mummy.