Grim Leaper #1 Review

Let me just say, right off the bat, that Grim Leaper is a weird book. It feels like a romance comic from the mid-twentieth century crossed with an EC horror comic from the same era, such as Tales from the Crypt. Here’s the official description from Image:

A brand new series from the mind of critically acclaimed writer KURTIS J. WIEBE (GREEN WAKE, PETER PANZERFAUST), GRIM LEAPER is a gory romantic comedy. Lou Collins is caught in a cyclical curse of violent, gruesome deaths and new beginnings in the bodies of strangers. With no clue why, Lou desperately searches for a way to break the curse and cross over peacefully to the other side. Then equally doomed Ella comes along. It’s a love story to die for.

Leaper’s biggest failure is it’s lack of readability. The first three pages are hard to follow, even on the second read-through, and most of what comes after only makes sense in retrospect. Wiebe uses the violence and gore effectively, juxtaposing it with the romantic and comedic elements, but it’s also obvious that Wiebe and artist Aluisio Santos revel in the gore for its own sake.

Santos’ art is a mixed bag: his funky line work and shading match the book’s tone really well, but he favors dichromatic color schemes that feel like they were used to save time. They can also be confusing: in one panel, a trail of cigarette smoke is the same color as a spray of blood, making it hard to tell which is which.

The back-up, “Drive Time Commute,” is also strange. It contributes heavily to the 1950’s feel of the book as a whole, mostly through Joey Esposito‘s great writing (It’s narration heavy, but very witty, with a “This is the story of two people who…” feel) and the awesome vintage style art of Jeff McComsey, who’s colors are amazing. What’s strange is that it’s straight up romance, with no horror or supernatural elements. As good as it is, it’s odd that it was added to the book.

As a whole, Grim Leaper will require a very specific type of reader, one who can appreciate the vintage/shock mash-up. I’m curious what other “Love Stories to Die For” the book will deliver in the back-up as it continues billing itself as romance.