Archeologists of Shadows Volume 2: Once a Nightmare
(Lara Fuentes, Patricio Clarey; Septagon Studios)
Almost a year ago, I got to review Archeologists of ShadowsVolume 1 for Comics Bulletin and I was very pleased with what I had found. Volume 2 takes up where Volume 1 left off, but this time Patricio Clarey's art is even more breathtaking.
Whatever inconsistencies in storytelling or character development there are in this series -- and there are some (though not many) -- they are easily forgiven because they are subsumed in the expansive world building and intricate creature creation that Clarey commands. His work features drawing on top of digital painting on top of photography on top of sculpture, all of which, when combined, gives a depth and a nuance to each page. The alien nature of Clarey's art is heavy in its presentation, but somehow there is still something familiar about every page, every landscape, every character.
The story of AOScontinues along a relatively predicable hero's journey path, but Fuentes is able to throw in some unexpected moments. She seems to be struggling at times with the breadth of the tale she has taken on, but the story drives forward on its potholed path, having the benefit of some pretty large tires underneath. Really, the only time I found myself pausing while readingArcheologist of Shadows was to spend more time looking at everything Clarey had poured into each panel. I found myself pausing quite a bit.
As with Volume 1, Archeologists of Shadows, Volume 2 has the last third of the book filled with Clarey's photographs and sculptures, his sketches and layouts. It's as if Septagon Studios clearly understands that the real draw of this series is Clarey's work. Which it is. Which is enough for me to keep coming back for more. I've said before that Clarey is an artist who brings to the table something uniquely brilliant to the medium of comics. I stand by that and look forward to reveling in whatever he produces next.