By Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo
Heavenly Blues is comic you don’t know about but should—need to—be reading. It’s a quick, contained story that’s got solid character work, a good premise and one of the most aesthetically pleasing styles there are. It’s sharp and fun and so is the writing. Heavenly Blues starts off in Hell and follows a growing cast of characters along their secret mission into Heaven. Although they all start off as a bit calloused and mysterious, it only takes six issues to love them and, inevitably, hate to see them go. Heavenly Blues and its cast of rogues scratches I didn’t even know that I had.
When it comes to writing, Ben Kahn weaves a web through every part of the story. Our primary main characters, Isaiah and Erin have known each other for centuries, way back since Erin tortured Isaiah upon his arrival to Hell. Their dynamic is wonderful. They lean on each other, they trust each other and they poke fun of each other. Isaiah and Erin are a blast to hang out with and watching them work towards their goals is just as rewarding. Although they have their faults as people, Kahn really makes their success justified. Those two, and the rest of their motley crew, grow past their flaws over the series’ six issues; it flows into the plot perfectly every time. When the series wraps up, it’s totally bittersweet. It sucks to see them go, but Kahn’s penned an ending that’s more than satisfying.
On the art side, Hidalgo turns the book into something both nostalgic and inventive. The sharp lines and dynamic angles bring loads of drama that’s just riding the edge between over the top and realistic. It’s sort of similar to Genndy Tartakovsky’s work on Samurai Jack—but this is also completely its own thing. Hidalgo takes a baby step closer to realism but retains the more abstract elements with thick detail lines. His lettering is just as important to the book’s tone. The sounds that come out of this book have probably never been drawn anywhere else, and that adds not only to the moment, but to the entire attitude. Hidalgo’s lettering style lightens up the darker parts of the comic. When the creators look at the dark, sometimes tragic pasts of our characters, they pull us right back out before we’re buried in angst. It’s never too edgy or grim for our heroes. It’s refreshingly fun and emotional.
Heavenly Blues rocks and you should buy it. It’s somehow fast and slow; sad and rejoiceful. When Hidalgo and Kahn plant seeds for the future, it just feels like hanging out with the characters, and it’s satisfying in the moment. Each bitter pill comes with a sugary chaser that’s careful not to bog readers down with gloominess. There’s even a swagger to all of it from Hidalgo’s style. Heavenly Blues has just about anything you could ask for.
See for yourself and pick up issues 1-6 over at Scout Comics.