From the creators of Heavenly Blues, a blasphemous heist western comic with an outrageous cast, comes Gryffen. Ben Kahn and Bruno Hidalgo jump to sci-fi to pick up another set of rogues on a mission. This first issue is dense with information, but is done so well that it feels easy to get into. The titular character, Captain Lyla Gryffen, is absolutely cathartic to be around. Having disappeared for six months, they’re back, on trial and ready to bust some heads. We meet them in the middle of their tribunal, being interrogated by the Sovereign Reach, though Kahn keeps the story moving quickly. Hidalgo’s art, meanwhile is snappy and stylish. It absolutely oozes cool with its caricaturesque figures and thick ink lines. With Gryffen #1, Hidalgo and Kahn have put together the trappings for a great follow up.
Gryffen is a tight team book with a three character cast that takes care to give each member the spotlight at some point. By the end, you have a really solid idea of each character’s personality and their dynamics with one another and some hints at what lies beneath their surfaces. Things are already even uneasier than this uneasy alliance would have you believe. It’s a story willing to engage with the fact that everyone has their own agendas. In this first issue alone, every character has their own 180, which translates to a representation of the conflict between their external and internal presentations. Did I mention this is the first issue?
Hidalgo’s art shines in the action of this comic and Gryffen themself would be humbled to see their depiction. He doesn’t shy away from a bit of gore here and there; just like the captain, he lets himself loose. Hidalgo’s inks are a large part of that. He’s willing to go heavy on the inks and is clever about when he chooses to do so. Similarly, Hidalgo’s sound effects go beyond the expected. Instead of floating them over the art, he incorporates them so they’re genuinely connected. They’re as much a part of the environment as anything else. His style is somehow both nostalgic and new. Samurai jack meets Mike Mignola in stylish space adventure that could go nowhere and anywhere – but is certain to be great.
Gryffen #1 is a first issue done well. It doesn’t wait until the end to reveal an already known twist; it does a great job of introducing the reader to its characters and the world simultaneously. Where lots of #1’s can feel awkward, Gryffen is natural and fast. It doesn’t stumble. It’s confident in each aspect, from the characters to the story to the art and the layouts. Though Gryffen themself has some skeletons in their closet, this comic does not. It’s easy to love and hard to wait for. An 11 page preview of Gryffen #1 hits shelves on May 4 in Starburns Industries’ Free Comic Book Day.