Writer: Kevin Moyers
Artist/Cover artist: Philipp Neundorf
Publisher: Septagon Studios
Price: $3.50 US
A lot of comic books cross my desk, and a good number of those are independent or small-press outfits crafted by amateur or tyro creators who still have some development ahead of them. I usually find something in those efforts that I enjoy, even if it’s just the creators’ passion and enthusiasm. I’d never heard of Septagon Studios, and I assumed I was in for another bargain-basement comics effort. While the creators still have to refine their skills a bit, there’s a lot of promise to be found in Scorn. It’s a story about violence begetting violence, about the potential for grief to consume oneself and just about growing up. There’s a gritty intensity to the art that’s in keeping with the tone of the story, and the somewhat unconventional approach to the sequential art really allows artist Phillip Neundorf’s work to stand out. This is a solid debut effort from two unknowns, and I suspect that as they hone their storytelling in the coming years, we may see higher-profile projects from them, either together or teamed with others.
Michael is a young man whose life has been defined by violence and death. He’s haunted by dreams of the mother he never knew, a woman struck down by a crazy man’s bullet. He doesn’t know who she was or what she looked like, and he felt alone his whole life… until he met his best friend Glenn. The two schoolmates were inseparable, even opting to share an apartment together after they graduated from high school. But when Glenn — the only family Michael has ever known — suffers the same fate as his mother, something inside Michael dies. He cares about nothing else but revenge, and nothing will deter him.
Neundorf’s artwork strikes me as something of a cross between the styles of Ben (30 Days of Night) Templesmith and Daniel (Loveless) Zezelj. It’s also comparable to the styles of such artists as Duncan (Hellboy: Darkness Calls) Fegredo and Sean (Criminal) Phillips. The silent opening sequence also put me in mind of Jonathan Hickman’s unconventional layouts and panel progressions in his noteworthy limited series from Image Comics, The Nightly News.
There’s a loose, sketchy look to Neundorf’s linework that’s in line with the downtrodden and explosive moods of this unusual crime drama. The murder color palette further reinforces the dark mood that serves as the book’s greatest strength. The artist’s eye for anatomy is uneven and inconsistent. Sometimes, he gets the figures to look just right, but at others, the characters look squat and compressed. Neundorf also brings an androgynous quality to the main character. Perhaps it’s intentional, but I can’t see why, as Michael is clearly identified as being a young man.
The weakest point in Moyers’s plot comes at the end of the issue, when we’re presented with the stereotypical sex scene, instigated by the ever-grateful damsel who’s no longer in distress. It’s an irksome moment, and it feels forced. Mind you, Moyers redeems himself somewhat with the revelation of how unusual and important a moment it is in Michael’s life.
Moyers’s main plot is somewhat crude at first. Michael’s vigilantism seems fated to end badly, and the convenient participation in the new love interest and her decision to hide him come off as stereotypically formulaic plotting. There’s a hint that there’s going to be more to the story. There’s the potential for more than an action/crime story here. There are social and political elements that could come into play, given the circumstances of the violence and the protagonist’s background. Those more complex and challenging ideas aren’t to be found here, but Moyers has laid the foundation. It remains to be seen if he taps that potential or follows a more predictable path. 6/10
Note: Scorn #1 is slated for release in March. For more information about this comic book and Septagon Studios, visit the publisher’s website.