Review: Clash of the Cryptids #1
If you're after a monster tournament comic from one of the masters of horror in the UK indie comic scene, then Clash of the Cryptids #1 from Afterlight Comics could be the comic for you. Think Predator, Pokemon, and the Hunger Games rolled into one, with cryptids adding a ton of horror.
Clash of the Cryptids #1 becomes the comic series to unify all of Afterlight Comics' previous cryptid stories that have come before in a shared universe. Wendigo Wood, Moth Hill, Goatman. It's all to come, which makes this a very exciting series. With Joseph Oliveria writing and lettering, Flavio Giron on art, and Farla Aguilar colouring, this has all the makings to be as epic as the coming together of a shared universe should be!
The story follows Kyle Reid, who, in a desperate bid to afford his son's life-saving operation, accepts an invitation to a deadly tournament with a $250,000 prize up for grabs - just enough to cover what Kyle needs. To get the money, he has to hunt and capture one of the most fierce cryptids to enter the tournament. Bringing a dead cryptid back is not an option.
The artwork created by Flavio Giron is incredible. It's a style I really enjoy. At times, it features graphic and gory scenes, which is where Flavio's artistic talents truly shine. The sense of impending doom and tension grows throughout and is built up through facial expressions and the use of heavy shadows. While there aren't many cryptids featured in the first issue, it's clear that this is where Flavio will excel, as he will have the opportunity to create pages that are both shocking and awe-inspiring.
There are some stunning panels with little details included that make a huge difference to how the panels would look without them. The little additional lines added here and there to add some slight texture to a park bench, for example, add so much. It's all a true delight to look at, even the gory bits.
Farla Aguilar's use of colour in some panels is surprisingly vibrant, which allows certain pages to stand out. It's an interesting colour palette on some pages, but it's a good move to include more colour now, as the later issues are likely to be bloodbath. The sky on some pages might look a little too blue, but I kinda like it as it makes the panels pop. The whole colouring experience elevates the stellar artwork to the next level, which is exactly what you want.
The story and lettering are handled by Afterlight Comics' founder, Joseph Oliveria. He never disappoints us. The issue starts with some cryptid gore, just to grab your attention with what's surely to come in this issue - lots of gruesome deaths by way of cryptids. Then, most of the rest is building up the story, setting the stage for this new series so that we can become emotionally invested in Kyle and wanting him to succeed against insurmountable odds. You gain just enough information about Kyle and his situation for you to care, to know why he would even take part in something as dangerous as this tournament.
It's an issue to set up a new series, and that's one of Joesph's strong points. He knows how to set it all up and lead us into something new - although, in this case, it's something new with bits of old since we'll be getting links to other Afterlight stories. But with a grim opening, a lot of setting up in getting Kyle to the island and a thrilling ending leading into the next issue, it's easy to finish this and think, "this is why I'm a fan". The shared universe idea with all the Afterlight Crypids is exciting. I cannot wait to see how this all pans out.
The lettering is always nice to look at, and I feel like I've reached that point where I didn't even need to look at who lettered it to know who it was. I enjoy the speech bubbles with no outlines and thin strands that sometimes join them when they're spread around a panel. There's the odd word where a tiny bit of extra spacing between the letters would improve it, but other than that, it's all good.
Although there are not many cryptids in the first issue, it is a fantastic beginning to a series that will bring all the previous Cryptid comics together into a shared universe. This sets the stage for an epic tournament with plenty of potential. Will there be battles between cryptids as they compete over killing the puny humans? Who will survive and who will die? What cryptid will Kyle be able to capture and bring back alive? What is Gentrex's interest in obtaining a live cryptid, especially when they appear to be indifferent about which one they acquire? There are so many questions and so much to look forward to in this series. In my opinion, Afterlight Comics has outdone themselves with this one, and I'm eager to see what the rest of the series has in store. It's going to be a thrilling horrorshow for the ages, and I'm here for it.
If you want to grab yourself a copy as you missed the Kickstarter, you can pre-order over at the Afterlight Comics website, where a physical copy will cost you £5.99. And it's worth every penny. And if you have not read any of the previous books, don't worry, you won't be left wondering what's going on. However, I recommend checking out the earlier Afterlight comics if you enjoy horror, as they are great fun to read.