Veil #1

Written by El Torres
Art by Gabriel Hernandez
32 pages, color
Published by IDW

"I see dead people." It’s a statement that’s echoed through all sorts of media, for as far as history is recorded. So when you create a story these days about someone who is able to view ghosts, you need more than just that as your hook to draw the reader in. With El Torres’s and Gabriel Hernandez’s The Veil, the basic ideas in the first issue might be the same, but they’re able to bring a strong enough voice to the concept that I think they’ve successfully found their hook.

Chris Luna is a private investigator who can see and talk to ghosts. Provided the ghost doesn’t keep "looping" and getting caught in reliving that moment of death, she can use her ability to get the information out of them to solve their deaths and set them free into the afterlife. The problem is, of course, the dead don’t usually have checkbooks to help Chris pay her bills. So when Chris hears that the small town she grew up in wants to buy Chris’s aunt’s house (which was willed to Chris), she heads off to Maine to take care of business. The problem is, there’s a reason why Chris fled her hometown soon after the accident which gave her the ability to see the dead…

I’ll admit that I was a little worried at first. The first page of narration came across to me as a little pretentious, an attempt to sound deep that instead just felt eh. Fortunately, though, when one turns the page things really get rolling. Once Chris is interacting with the dead, there’s a strange mixture of fun and morbidity that works well for The Veil. Torres hits all the right paces here; first showing us how Chris works with the ghosts, then how she uses that information, and finally what life is like when she isn’t talking to the deceased. I also appreciated that while Torres shows us that Chris is a slightly broken individual, that she’s still an entertaining and likable person. Sure, she’s in some serious denial about what happened to her before, and she’s got plenty of issues buried pretty deep, but her narration is entertaining and as a reader you want for her to succeed. Slightly caustic doesn’t have to equal annoying, and Chris is just the right kind of lead for this title.

Now that I’ve seen Hernandez’s art, I think I need to take a look at his previous work in the adaptation of Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always. This is a beautiful comic, one that reminds me of old Bill Sienkiewicz comics and how they effortlessly merged standard character designs with the fractured and blurred. Looking at the panels where we first have Chris talking to a ghost is a prime example of this; Chris is on the left, looking very normal with clean lines and features. To her right is Beth the ghost, with her form almost seeming to blur and shift, a perpetual red spray halo around the side of her head where she was shot.

I was also quite pleased with Hernandez’s usage of color in The Veil. The New York City scenes, for instance, are all drawn in a pale washed out yellow, save for the occasional red burst of color and in the most unfortunate way. And then, about halfway through the book, things start to change. Chris’s nightmare of the Slug Man, with everything in a deep red, manages to look positively eerie. Even better, the next page with all of the different colors of the Maine countryside are hard to ignore. We’re suddenly seeing greens and oranges, although it’s hard to say if the visual shift is supposed to be saying more about Maine, or New York. Either way, though, it really works for me.

The Veil #1 is a strong start to a four-issue mini-series. I’m definitely interested in seeing more, not only of The Veil but from Torres and Hernandez in general. When people tell a familiar story in as strong a way as these creators are, it’s a pleasant way to revisit what could have otherwise been dull. Torres and Hernandez can help me pass through The Veil any time.

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