Ever wanted to read a comic but didn't know where to start? Interested in superheroes, manga, romance, webcomics and more? Look no further! We have all the recommendations you'll ever need.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Air: Letters from Lost Countries

Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: M. K. Perker
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher 
Colors: Chris Chuckry
Publisher: Vertigo Comics

What’s it about?
The story of Air follows Blythe, a young woman who's afraid of heights but didn't let that stop her from becoming an airline stewardess.  As the story progress, we're introduced to a large colorful cast of characters and intrigues that might just turn a bit more dangerous than the skies itself:

Quickly, Blythe meets a very strange mysterious man, named Zayn (or is it..?), finds herself in the middle of terrorism plots lead by the Etesians, sky pirates/vigilantes and witnesses the discovery of the hyperpraxis, a new science, a revolution that might just change humanity's relation to technology itself.

Air is all about its characters and their relationships, all sorts of relationships!  It covers the relations we have with technology, and also the relations we form with myths, our world, pictures and words.
Air is all about the all encompassing air we share, the very space of it and the different sort of things that occupy it. Time. Memories.

Simply put, Air is a modern tale of myths and legends. As the story goes, the supernatural occupies more and more of the scene, fantasy elements enter and alongside this our main characters develop and grow.

What is good about it?
First of all, the art

The art is fun and bright. Colorful, simple. The praises could go on and on. M. K. Perker manage to stay sort of "cartoony", yet quite detailed.  I'd say, it's closer to reality than most superhero comics are, with all their superbuff spandexes. Like our world, the world of Air is full of emotion and intriguing characters.  The plot has a strong mix of fantasy and technnology, and these are explored as the main themes of Air.

And, pun intended, Air is really a breath of fresh air in a market principally dominated by the superhero genre. And it's also not one of those satiric indie comics. It's just a fun tale, of adventure and discovery.  It's a different kind of story than most comic book readers are used to - it's closer to novels in feel.  The narrative is great, quite detailed and moves the story along.  The pacing is beautiful, it manages to perfectly lose us into this universe, while still being able to show us the greater ideas suggested by the themes.

Air is built upon an original composition of real mythology (Aztec, Mayan..) and our modern day science.  The heroine, Blythe, is our portal into this world.  As she discovers an dangerous world she never dreamt of, we are transported with her.

I would say, it's a sort of contemporary Wizard of Oz/Alice in Wonderland. 

What is bad about it?
But as good as it is, the story does feature a quite complicated theme.  Who are the real villains, what is really at stake here?  There's a great deal of references and background information to the story. For example, mention is made of Amelia Earhart and the god Quetzacoatl.  Understanding all the references isn't necessary, but really helps the reader's enjoyment of the story.

Also, the story goes on and on, there aren't smaller arcs, like TV shows have as their seasons.   The story presented in this trade doesn't conclude, or stop at the end of the trade. There's more...
If you like it, you'll probably check out the other volumes, but if you're not "into it", reading the first part won't win you over.  The introduction is especially long, kinda slow and serves mostly to build the characters, like a pilot would in a dramatic show, compared to the later parts of Air...

Lastly, the mythos behind Air might be confusing if you're not used to mythological tales.
In conclusion, it's different and it might be a good or bad thing depending on the reader.

What’s the art like?
It's fun.
I already posted some samples throughout this post.
The covers are beautiful paintings, which metaphorically refer to the plot.

The art direction in the book itself is simple yet complicated enough to showcase a large palette of emotions.
I like it!

The coloring is light, perfectly suited for a book called "Air"!

It grounds the story in a fantasy-sh realistic world.
Here's the rest of the first pages of Air.

Other information
Air: Letters from Lost Countries
144 pg Colors Softcover
Priced at approximately £8.99
ISBN 9781401221539

If you like the first TPB, be sure to check the rest of the series in:
Air Vol. 1 Letters from Lost Countries (issues #1-5)
Air Vol. 2 Flying Machine (#6-10)
Air Vol. 3 Pureland (issues #11-17)
Air Vol. 4 A History of the Future (issues #18-24)

Also, if you like this book, I recommend reading other similar original titles from the Vertigo inprint:

Y: The Last Man  A story of survival, adaptation and evolution. The last males on Earth are a boy called Yorrick and his pet monkey Ampersand.
Fables: Legends in Exile A new series span-off from Vertigo's classic series.
We3 An amazing collaboration between writer Grant Morrison & artist Frank Quitely. Worth a read!

You can also view other Vertigo titles we have reviewed by clicking here.

No comments:

Post a Comment