Review: Sigil #1












Weird. Really weird but cool.

The last time I felt this strange feeling about a comic book was September 1976. Really. The comic book? Marvel’s debut issue, “in the marvelous tradition of Spider-Man,” of The Man Called Nova. Herein we have a fairly normal kid (one Richard Rider) who is living his normal life with his seemingly normal family and is, all of a sudden, thrown into a situation of fantasy that changes his life forever. That does not mean the “normal” parts of his life also changed, just that Rich now had to act like a chemist to mix all those things – the ordinary and the fantastic – just right!

“In the marvelous tradition of Spider-Man.” Yes, quite so.

I have never heard of Sigil nor read a CrossGen comic. I am approaching Sigil #1 as a longtime Marvelite who is yearning for something new and yet a return to those things that used to make Marvel characters great. In this particular instance, the everyday, workaday world colliding head-on with the bizarre, the extraordinary, the – dare I say it? – the fantastic!

And, at least in this first issue, writer Mike Carey and the art team of Kirk & Tadeo knock this one out of the ballpark! (Well, it is spring – almost.)

Samantha Rey is a normal teen attending high school and failing miserably at it, thank you, because of the recent death of her mother (circumstances are yet to be revealed, but the occurrence is key). Being raised by her protective father, Sam has her own friends in school and is getting at least one second chance from her history teacher to make amends for missing a test. (She actually goes into a trance, but more on that later.)

Sam’s “Flash Thompson” is Tamara Wachowski, who leads a gang of gals with a grudge against Sam. It seems Tamara thinks our heroine is leading on her beloved Roberto. Sam could care less and Roberto, whom we briefly encounter, seems clueless. Sam has a few more cojones than either Rich or Peter Parker seemed to in their #1’s, but this is the 21st century!

Aside from all these woes – Marvel at its best – Sam seems to be having dreams about 17th century pirates, dreams that also involve her strange chest birth mark (a sigil, get it?), and she weirds out during said history test, finding her mind back on the high seas of yesteryear.

The noble teacher gives Sam one more chance – not a second chance really, but a last chance – that afternoon, and our gal knows her stuff. But she is stopped by Tamara and crew who wanna turn her into a Smurf (i.e., paint her blue). She runs down the hall, urgently wanting to get to her makeup test, but cannot escape the thugs.

All of a sudden, Sam finds herself on a ship – physically on the ship – in the year 1695 (having vanished from the 2011 school building completely) and talking to a period figure who seemingly knows both Samantha – and her mother! A financial consultant in our era, in this day Mom is described as a warrior born.

As if all this wasn’t confusing enough for Sam, she is told that the man who caused her mother’s death is on a suddenly on-the-scene vessel, firing cannon balls to and fro.

As Sam – and we – try to absorb all this, enter that man – a mighty looking pirate with fire coming from his hands – and his mates, following in mid-air, Peter Pan-like.

Now this may sound either a tad confusing or, mentioning school and history, somewhat boring? Well, nothing could be further from the truth! This first issue of Sigil – which obviously refers to the birth mark on Sam’s chest – is a great read and has me anticipating #2. The art is clear and of fine line ala Buscema or Romita Sr. and the story is crisp and well-told.

This may not be CrossGen’s Sigil, and those fans may not find this issue to their palette’s taste. But there is a lot of potential here. I hope Marvel does not blow it (recent track record) and fans support it. This could be a keeper!