REVIEW: The Hollows #1

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From the creators of The Maxx and the co-creators of Zombies vs Robots!, Sam Kieth and Chris Ryall, comes a brand new mini-series that takes places in Japan where people live in tree cities high above the surface. In the not-too-distant future, Craig Mayerik explores the world of Hollows to secure supplies for his family. With his bat-wings as his only means of transportation, he must avoid the dangerous man-eating Hollows lurking on the surface.

The-Hollows_1-665x1024THE HOLLOWS #1
Writer: Chris Ryall
Artist: Sam Kieth
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Colorist: Sam Kieth
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in The Hollows: Most of society has escaped away to genetically engineered tree cities because of the Hollows, radioactive burned-out husks that devour souls throughout the city. Safety may be temporary as the Hollows are becoming a growing problem.

SOUL SUCKING ZOMBIES FROM TOKYO

Chris Ryall and Sam Kieth’s mini-series, Hollows, is extremely different from other comic books. With its own brand of storytelling and gritty style, they paint a grim future for Tokyo. With the surface overrun by soul-devouring radioactive zombies, called Hollows, the people of Tokyo have created large genetically engineered trees to live above the danger. The narrative follows Craig Mayerik, a hard-working family man who looks like someone from a hippie commune. Although his introduction is ambiguous, the protagonist holds a position of need within his community; he’s an inventor, has a radiation detection device and long, bat-like wings that allow him to glide above the Hollows. From this first issue there is an abundance of creativity put into each panel I like the allegory the Hollows represent in regards to the overcrowded population of Tokyo. It is a unique take on zombies comics, but still bares themes of the genre, like survival and human nature.

SKETCHY PENCILING

Unlike many modern comics that focus on story, Hollows spends a lot of effort on presentation. Sam Kieth’s art has a gritty and unpolished feel to it, as if it came out of a sketch pad. The penciled colors and broad stroked charcoaled lines make each page seem misshaped. It is not a bad thing, but definitely unconventional. Because of the toxic nature of the story, it fits well with the narrative. The character designs are also unusual. From the ponytailed, bat-winged Craig Mayerik, to the husk-like Hollows, to Craig’s Asian wife, they all have different and iconic appearances. The page layout is very unique. Aside from the inconsistent panels, odd directional arrows, and the pop out action sounds, there are Kanji markings with English translations through the pages that refer to the scenes. They remind me of the “learn Chinese” print on the back of a fortune cookie paper. One negative are the arrows that point you to where your eyes need to be in the comic. They are pointless, since you can remove them and still follow the issue.

BOTTOM LINE: AN EXPERIMENT IN COMIC STORYTELLING

Chris Ryall and Sam Kieth’s imaginative comic blends old and new ideas together to form an almost perfect union. Hollows is different from the usual zombie genre or spandex wearing superhero comic. Because of the unusual style, it may discourage new comic fans from reading it. However, it will be interesting where the story goes from the first issue.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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