Luke Owen reviews the first issue of The Hollows…
“An all-new series from the creator of The Maxx and the co-creator of Zombies vs Robots! Sam Kieth and Chris Ryall transport you to a near-future Japan, where burned-out husks—the Hollows—wantonly devour souls throughout the city. Far above, a segment of society lives safely in giant tree-cities, but the problems below have a way of growing out of control…”
Often, as a comic book reader, you get yourself settled into a comfort zone of what you like. You read your Marvel and your DC superheroes and you even pick up Ghostbusters and G.I. Joe because the names are familiar with you. But sometimes you go out on a limb and pick up a new title just to give it a try. The Hollows should be one of those comics this week. Fresh, unique and utterly brilliant.
The set-up for The Hollows doesn’t feel that original, but the story that is woven around is incredibly engaging. Cities built above a desolate place we used to call home are attached to man-made trees, high above the poverty and horror that lies beneath. One man who is staying away from that is our hero Craig, who is working night and day on something that will change the world (but we don’t know what yet). When his wife begs for him to come home to help look after the terrors (or her children as they should be known), Craig uses some old-school robotic wings to fly home as opposed to the jetpacks usually used by The Fliers. However he crashes down and narrowly escapes The Hollows by a team of survivors. Obsessed by getting the knowledge of his wings and his help, Craig must now make the choice on whether he should go home to his wife, or stay and help those who need him the most.
The first thing of note with The Hollows is the unique artwork style. Very sketchy outlines, choppy colouring and an almost childlike innocence about it really makes The Hollows stand out from the crowd. Usually I am put off by this style of artwork but Sam Keith’s art drew me in and kept me gripped. This was mirrored beautifully by Chris Ryall’s superb story and dialogue with some good characterisation on the part of Craig and Lani in what I hope will grow into a great friendship. You don’t often get this perfect mix in comic books, but these two have captured it.
The other thing of note is that The Hollows does what a first issue needs to do – it draws you in with an intriguing set up and then leaves you wanting more. Craig’s body language sells the next issue with Lani’s words hanging over his conscience. He may be having troubles at home, but his ‘first world problems’ are nothing compared to what Lani and her survivors deal with. Not only are they dealing with The Hollows, they also deal with the Packrats – the jetpack scavengers that Craig helps in the above world.
There is so much to praise about The Hollows. Ryall and Keith have done a marvellous job on selling me on this story and I look forward to future issues. If you’re the sort of comic book reader who often picks up new titles to try – make sure it’s this one.
Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.