The Electric Sublime #1 ComicWow! Review

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W. Maxwell Prince also wrote In Search of Beautiful things, Judas: The Last Days, and One Week in the Library. 

Martin Morazzo also illustrated Great Pacific, Nighthawk, and Snowfall.

W. Maxwell Prince and Martin Morazzo have created a rare thing – a truly different comic.  The main premise of the comic is that art is somehow mutating and the mutations are having an effect on people. 

In an attempt to deal with the emerging crisis, the Bureau of Artistic Integrity – think MIB of the art world, reactivated former “Art Detective” Arthur Brut from an insane asylum and put him back on the case. 

Brut has the ability to move through artwork as if it was a portal into an alternate world.  It is uncertain if this is real or part of his psychosis. 

His ‘handler’ in this case is Margot Breslin, the director of the Bureau.  She is a vaguely noir figure, a hard-boiled figure to be in charge of a bureau investigating ‘artistic anomalies and catastrophes.’  She is equal parts Sam Spade, Amanda Waller, and something else.  She is meant to be our ‘eyes’ into this world.

There are two other fascinating pieces to this unfolding puzzle:  a group of criminals/terrorists who appear to be either behind the impending crisis of (at a minimum) more-clued into it than Brut and Breslin, and a strange child with a Death-Note like ability – what he draws dies.

This is a strange and surreal comic – parts police procedural, part fantasy, part psychological thriller. 

Prince’s writing is dense and packed with information.  He has a lot to tell and only a few pages to do a lot of exposition.  He takes a huge risk – expecting readers to understand references from Warhol to Neo-Dadaism and beyond.  There are clues in semiotics and classic art.  It is a fascinating puzzle.  Hopefully, he will continue to tantalize even as he begins to put the pieces together.

Morazzo’s art is equally impressive.  In a comic which relies so heavily on artwork, the pressure on the artist to perform is immense, and he rises to the task, performing admirably.  His style is somewhat reminiscent of Heavy Metal, but there are other elements as well.  Mat Lopes, the colorist, also deserves great credit for his restrained use of color.  He uses a lot of neutral colors, and this makes both the artwork and the violence (near the end of the issue) stand out even more.  It is reminds one of the original Wizard of Oz, where the first part of the film is in black and white, and the first color scenes are when Dorothy lands over the rainbow.

Like Dorothy, readers are in for a trip into a different world.  There is not only a crisis to avert and a mystery to solve, but there is a new and different world to explore.  This new world is surreal, equally fascinating and frightening.  This promises to be an interesting ride.

Written by: W. Maxwell Prince

Illustrated by: Martin Morazzo

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