By Ben Kahn, Bruno Hidalgo, James Peñafiel and Sal Cipriano
Gryffen #3 drops June 5 from Starburns Industries Press. It continues the sci-fi adventures of the blase Captain Lyla Gryffen, her willing boyfriend/crewman Dao and their unwilling first officer, Telika. This issue is just as fun as the last two – and looks closer into the character dynamics. Ben Kahn handles scripting, the stylish art is handled by Bruno Hidalgo with coloring assistance from James Peñafiel and Sal Cipriano contributes lettering talents. If you’re not already reading this series, grab the first two issues and get up to speed. This team is serving up a snappy comic with great characters and stand-out art.
Gryffen #3 changes pace and takes a closer look at one of the captain’s unwilling crewmembers, Telika. She’s present in just about every panel, which means we get a good look at how she’s affected by Gryffen and Dao. Because of that, there’s a solid tonal contrast throughout the issue. Gryffen, who’s been well established as a self-driven, apathetic character, is great for the aloof humor at the expense of others. It’s been a fun aspect of the series thus far – but now Kahn switches more firmly to how that attitude negs Telika. There’s a constant cycle of laugh, then empathize. The story’s confidence in giving readers both of those sides feels self-aware without pulling away from the issue itself. When Kahn scripts those tense Telika scenes, Sal Cipriano uses ballooning to either distance the crew members or point towards another’s reaction.
This issue is a bit more dialogue heavy as a result – but that doesn’t make Hidalgo’s work any less enticing. His handling of emotional drama is just as effective as his approach to action. Kahn’s scripting, or Hidalgo’s interpretation of it, seeps into the art and layers on the impact of the text itself. Even though Telika isn’t shy about expressing herself, especially when it comes to her trust for her crewmates Dao and Gryffen, Hidalgo makes the sale. The whole cast has their own personal set of physical reactions that work to lay the foundations for their attitudes. He does all this, of course, in his striking style. Hidalgo’s caricature is refreshing as always and Gryffen #3 flourishes visually because of it. The colors are a big help here, too. Hidalgo and James Peñafiel use lots of pink and orange hues that set Gryffen apart from other sci-fi stories. They tie the environment together nicely with shades of Gryffen’s hair as well as Telika’s skin.
As quick as this issue is paced, it’s hard not to want more – thankfully, this issue is more than worth a second read. Knowing some of the gags and emotional beats rewards moments on a reread and since it’s only 15 pages you might as well. Kahn and Hidalgo are helming a totally unique comic with Gryffen and this third entry looks to be an important one among them. Aside from the Telika moments, this issue fleshes out the series’ villain and sets up some giant stakes for what’s to come. By the end, you’re certain of a catastrophe but, with this crew, you can’t wait to see it happen.