Well, this is both a blessing and a curse because it’s an incredibly solid concept with a ton of that unlimited potential that we love to see. It’s also a little all over the place, you can tell this is by someone without a lot of experience writing these types of stories. Its like you want to scream at him: Wait, what? Why? How? Then you go okay, I see, but… You can see the potential in John Ward and what he can do and he’s so close you can feel it so you want this to keep going to watch him “get it.”
So the way the story opens is interesting I like that we see Dee having a nightmare about tattooing and that it relates to what’s going to happen. I like it because it says there’s a connection to what she’s done and what’s happening and it’s kind of got this supernatural air about it. If it were random and the tattoo’s just took over the people and she had no idea it would be a different story. So the connection angle is well conceived.
So when Dee finds out what is going on it’s both a shock and something she’s kind of expecting. For further details on why I say that, you need to read the story. When the story kind of hits its stride is when we see the inexperience really hit home. Dee’s attacked, knows her attacker and ends up being involved with the police. The pacing is a little off and there are a few moments where you get a tad lost and then pick things up again. The bridges are missing that help you leap from segment to segment and understand how it’s transpiring. Like that moment on the bridge when Dee mourns her loss that is out of the blue, how the cops followed her or knew her in the first place was omitted and any kind of clue as to why this is happening is not even touched upon.
I do like the artwork. It’s got a nice simple quality to it that is both expressive and subtle at the same time. The use of page layouts through angles and perspective are handled very well. The attention to detail is there and the tattoos that we see aren’t easy to replicate time and again consistently. Yes I wish there more backgrounds in use but what we do see here is well done and shows the bigger, see fuller, story. Also they do wonders showing depth perception which on the bridge especially we need to see instead of something so two-dimensional.
This could have been done in two issues with the addition of something, anything that says how and why the tattoos are taking control of people. As a premise it’s strong but that we don’t see anything is a let down. Some more background information would’ve been nice, like the relationship between Dee and Sarah or lack thereof needed fleshing out. What gives Dee the idea to contact more of her clients and only the ones listed is something I would’ve like to have seen.
Editor’s Note: Interested in checking this out for yourself? Then head right here to ComiXology to grab up an issue!
Arbutus Comics 2017
Created & Written by: John Ward
Created & Illustrated by: Juan Romera
Lettered by: Eric Grissom
Reviewer: Steven Leitman
Summary: A guilt-ridden tattoo artist must act when she discovers her clients are being possessed by the tattoos she gave them.