By Ben Kahn, Bruno Hidalgo and Sal Cipriano
Gryffen #6, and every issue in this series before it, leaves readers wanting more. Every read answers a question, then poses another to set up the next issue. Even though writer Ben Kahn and artist Bruno Hidalgo are only working with a little over half the page limit of a standard comic, installments never fail to satisfy. It’s a trick this team has pulled off flawlessly for six consecutive issues, thanks to storytelling that’s altogether efficient and full of heart. For that reason, it’s been a consistent breath of fresh air in my regular rotation. In a time where it seems oversized issues and nearly unparsable narratives are king, Gryffen throws all that out the door in a really wonderful way. There are enticing overarching narratives, yes, but the aspect that pulls readers to this series has to do more with the people. As a for instance for those not already reading, take last issue for example when the main character literally punched a dude in the head from space.
You can thank Kahn and Hidalgo’s creativity for that. These two are continuing to put to paper some of the most unexpected stories and images in comics. This time around, the crew of the Al-Haytham has put their plan in motion to save the planet of Ensara, the home planet of friend and crewmember, Telika. Gryffen is planetside, post space-punch, and now needs backup to finish the job. Expectedly, this issue brims with Hidalgo’s instantly recognizable action scenes as Gryffen and Telika push back the forces of Admiral Hunter. Hidalgo’s layouts, in this scene especially, draw out the tension of the moment before the eventual clash. Over about three pages, he riffs on long, horizontal panels that give off a distinctly cinematic vibe. They pull and tighten around the characters’ faces, reverb for longer angles and breathe back in as the backgrounds redden and Gryffen’s anger becomes more and more apparent.
If you’re able to pull your eyes away from Hidalgo’s work and onto Kahn’s, you’ll find yourself privy to one of the series’ most interesting info drops thus far. This is exactly the kind of writing Kahn excels at – and exactly when I say it’s efficient. The dialogue in this scene, and throughout the series, serves several purposes. The tone becomes layered with intrigue, tension and passion all at the same time as Gryffen and Hunter finally meet face to face again. Given that their conflict has been simmering on the back burner for a number of issues, there’s a lot riding on this moment. Kahn, knowing that, uses the scene to pile the stakes even higher.
Gryffen #6, annd the meeting between our favorite space captain and their nemesis, Admiral Hunter, signals the halfway point of the series. It’s unfortunate knowing that the series is on it’s way to its finale – but, at the same time, this series has only gotten better as it’s moved forward. If you’re not already on board with Captain Gryffen on the Al-Haytham – now’s the time.