Something being a new experience or totally out of the box are the types of phrases thrown around comics all the time. Sometimes there are things that make a project stand out from what’s come before, but even the best books often fit within the parameters of what we expect at this point for a comic book reading experience.
Seven Dead Stars is a new series that definitely could be quite a game-changer.
From the minds of musicians Unsecret and DJ Form, this new science-fiction series marries together the epic world-building that is possible with comic books with the wide amazing world of music. On the surface, if read alone, the series will seem just like a great number of other comics but once it’s paired with the duo’s music it takes on a whole new life.
In order to approach this review in the most complete way, I took the book in both ways. Overall just reading the comic is really fun and sets up a whole ton for the universe they are building without actually giving everything away. It’s a solid prologue/debut zero issue as it introduces the characters and puts them through an adventure and prepares us for what a journey with them will be like.
Adding the music to the experience thought takes the whole thing to the next level. Just like many of the films that the duo credit as being inspirations (check out our interview with them), the music pairs perfectly with the events going on and just ramps up the excitement and adventurous spirit even more. There are a handful of tracks that have been released already from the upcoming full album for the series, and cycling through them while going through the first issue just worked. It’s exactly the kind of epic sounds one would expect to find on the scores for some of the big films out there, mixing up hip hop and vocal hooks with orchestral elements.
A veteran art team helps to bring this world to vivid life in the form of Cliff Richards, Michael Bartolo, and Kathryn S. Renta.
This issue thrusts the reader, and its protagonists, right into the middle of a truly alien world, and Richards and Bartolo just bring it to gorgeous life. Richards has a really intriguing style that is epic in scope with some of the landscape shots while at the same time blurring them in a way where they retain their majesty but don’t take away from the focus on the characters/forefront action. Paired with the muted but also bright color palate of Bartolo just makes this world and the universe it’s part of pop off the page.
There is a lot of great work to varying the placement and shapes of panels, making sure that nothing is just standard in any way (not that a standard layout is bad in any way). Everything about the issue just stands out but there are a few pages that just command attention. Early on there is a scene with the planet inhabitants approaching ominously and they are shadows just out of focus enough with bright shadowed colors around them which makes it almost terrifying at first.
Another is the huge spread that kicks off the escape of the main characters Unsecret and Form and their new companion Buster. Just the majesty of the large creature that comes to their rescue, shadowy bodies flying through the air, and big bold SFX just makes it all around great.
Those mentioned SFX and all other lettering, along with layout work, comes from Renta. It’s really great that Unsecret’s dialogue bubbles maintain a different shape to showcase how they are coming through a helmet speaker, while the dialogue from the natives of this world remains in their own language all the way through. Renta’s SFX are big and colorful and come in so many varieties that match up to whatever is going on in the scene that they really make you ‘feel’ or ‘hear’ what is happening on the page.
Truly I appreciate that rather than just having a translator turn the native inhabitant’s speech into English, their own language remains through the whole issue including being turned into SFX when they are chanting later in the issue. It’s a great touch and speaks to how much this truly is the beginning of a bigger universe.
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