Comic Review: IDW’s MEMORIAL #1By Andrew Leslie
Posted on December 23, 2011
IDW is a comic publisher known for taking popular franchises from the 80’s & 90’s and turning them into comic books: G.I. Joe, Jurassic Park, TMNT, Terminator, Transformers and a handful of other titles are under the IDW brand. Some have even criticized them for this practice, which seems nonsensical as the “big two” (Marvel & DC) of the comic industry are still trading off characters created from the 50’s & 60’s. How old a title is shouldn’t matter, as long as they can create a great story with these familiar characters. With all the press that the big titles like COBRA or TMNT get, it can be easy to forget that IDW is also home to some outstanding creator-owned comics like Locke & Key, 30 Days of Night and the newly released Hawken. They’re also rumored to have a new series in the works with Mike Costa about magic, supposedly titled “Smoke and Mirrors,” which looks to be a pretty high concept creator-owned comic. They recently released their newest creator-owned comic called MEMORIAL.
Written by Chris Roberson (I,Zombie) and drawn by Rich Ellis, MEMORIAL is about Em, a young amnesiac who has settled into her new life in Portland, Oregon. A year ago she stumbled into a hospital with no memory of who she was and today she’s working at a book shop – probably the last one in existence. While on a break she wanders in to a local shoppe she’s never seen before, called Memorial. Em meets the shop’s owner and gets entangled in an adventure that has all the makings of a magical menagerie with evil puppets, purse-snatching statues, metal men and talking cats!
Em is a familiar character type that we’ve all seen in comics before, as cases of amnesia run rampant in the world of fiction. Anyone who’s read enough fiction and watched enough movies knows that there’s nothing new under the sun. There are only a handful of stories out there and good writers know how to tell them. Great writers know how to tell them in a way that makes them seem new and fresh. They make you forget the common archetypes they’re retreading exist. Roberson has started off MEMORIAL by taking a very familiar story and adding elements of magic and absurdism to breathe new life into it. What’s really interesting about Memorial is the tone of the story isn’t conventional comic fare. It is hard to nail down exactly what Roberson is going for from just one issue, but it is surprisingly light considering the subject matter. The airy tone by which Roberson takes us through the premier issue adds a whimsical vibe to the whole comic. Whimsy is something that we could do with a bit more of in the dark Nolan-verse we find ourselves in these days.
The art definitely adds to the Roberson’s whimsy. Rich Ellis’ style is well-suited to the story and should prove to be very appealing to new comic readers who may be intimidated by some of the gorier/violent/hyper-sexualized comics out there (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The A-cover is beautiful but may not have been the best choice as it is a bit creepier than the actual art inside the comic and may put off some casual browsers. The interior art retains an intense level of detail and is very disarming as well. At first you think you’re getting a standard drama or romantic comedy comic, but when the more magical aspects of the story kicks in, it hits you that much harder. The entire experience is similar to watching one of those new hour-long fairy-tale shows like GRIMM or ONCE UPON A TIME, except MEMORIAL is much, much better.
Frankly speaking, it’s Freakin’ Awesome to see IDW run with this title as it is an original story and creator-owned, something many readers will hope to see more of in the future. MEMORIAL #1 was such an interesting comic, it will make you seek out I, Zombie (if you’re not reading it already) just to see what else Roberson can do!
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