Mountain Rex #1

Posted: Tuesday, August 22, 2006
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Mountain Rex #1 Creator(s): Daniel Bell
Publishers: Underfire Comics (Self Published)
From: UK
Price: £2(UK)

Mountain Rex is the first part of an ongoing Sci Fi / fantasy story arc from English creator Daniel Bell. It concerns three regal siblings who have serious interpersonal relationship issues. They are also incredibly cruel and spiteful. In other words they don’t get on with each other, they don’t trust each other and nor should they.

As if the rivalry between them and their inherent unpleasant natures [fun for them appears to picking off the odd beggar with a catapult] wasn’t enough they are about to uncover some truths that will make their situation decidedly tenuous. Some of the sibling’s anger could be explained by the fact that their father bears an unnerving resemblance to Hagrid from the Harry Potter films.

This first instalment is very much in the Gothic tradition; many of the characters also have a noticeable ‘punky’ appearance and feel about them. The art work in this first edition is of variable quality. When Bell gets it right he certainly nails it but many panels are uneven in their final appearance. The fact that Bell seems to have used quite a bit of cutting and pasting means that some panels do lack a unified and unifying feel.

The contrast between panels and pages that make heavy use of black and those where there is just as dominant use of white may well have been a deliberate feature but for the most part the contrast is just too blatant to work effectively. In the same way the contrast between the heavily inked panels and those that have been lightly finished or even left in pencilled from is often just too much of a contrast and tends to disrupt the building of an appropriately Gothic atmosphere.

Ironically the panels that have a decidedly sketchy feel about them are often the most dynamic and effective as do the lighter panels where heavy use of character outline has been used to create an almost 3D effect drawing the main character out of the page and placing them in stark juxtaposition with the lesser characters who form the background.

For me the comic’s existence is validated by the wonderful concept of ‘tanning’ and the breeding of compliant humans for their skins. The near religious enthusiasm that the naked zealots face their sacrificial death is wonderfully handled. Here is where the contrast that this comic is full of does work. The tanner’s glorification of death is in contrast to the grim gut churning torture of the singer character.

The violence is always there and seems to be the motivating impulse for the three main characters. They seem to glory in digging out eyeballs and hacking at bodies. Even so when it does occur the outbursts of extreme violence are sudden and shocking. Given the tone of this comic this shock value is entirely appropriate. Overall then the narrative is handled well but there is a need for a more stringent proof read.

In a Word: Patchy..

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