Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Rex Mundi (vol. 2) #15, which was published by Dark Horse and is cover dated December 2008. Enjoy!
Each issue of the Dark Horse volume of Rex Mundi (which began at Image before moving over to the other publisher) comes with a fairly extensive recap page, so writer Arvid Nelson isn’t all that concerned with getting us caught up on his first pages. He still manages to name these two people, which is nice. He also lets us know that David is often cranky, and Genevieve notices that he’s feeling better. Considering that David is one of the villains of the comic, perhaps that’s why he’s often cranky, but we don’t have to know that yet. We also find out that they’re married, but David doesn’t exactly trust Genevieve yet. For not giving us a lot of dialogue, Nelson manages to get across quite a bit of information.
Juan Ferreyra, who draws and colors this, really doesn’t get enough work, which is too bad. This gorgeous page is an example of how much of Rex Mundi looks – Ferreyra didn’t draw it all, but he drew quite a lot of the second half. The sun in the first panel illuminates the wooden cross and the gauntlet propped up next to it – we might not know why there’s an armored glove leaning against the cross, but it’s a striking image. The book deals quite a lot with religion, so the fact that the cross is in sunlight while the castle, representing warfare, is deeper in darkness, is a nice touch. I’m going to assume that Ferreyra is coloring directly from pencils, which lends his artwork a softer touch, and that helps create the mood in the first panel, as the mountains block the sun’s light from the castle. In the second panel, we see again that the courtyard of the castle is dark while above the last light of the sun tinges the sky. The giant griffins on either side of the large door dwarf the people and the carriage, and when we consider the Nazi-esque flag draped over the main arch, we get a sense of a Hitlerian building project designed to crush the human spirit (David is French, but in this comic, he creates a fascist state in 1930s France). Keeping the castle slightly darker helps the red fascist flag stand out and draw our eyes, hinting at what kind of government now rules in France. In panel 3, David’s uniform and the black-shirted uniform of the soldier behind him also imply a fascist state. In the final panel, Ferreyra makes Genevieve’s pregnancy obvious without breaking the flow of the story – she’s still getting out of the carriage, and we just get a close-up of it happening. The juxtaposition of David’s black leather glove and Genevieve’s delicate hand is nicely done, too. Ferreyra repeats the red motif with the jacket of the carriage-driver and the interior velvet, linking the carriage with the machines of state. We don’t get to see his faces very much, but David looks cheery enough, doesn’t he?
This isn’t constructed to be the most exciting first page because Nelson has already brought us up to speed in the recap page and this entire saga is definitely written with the totality in mind (the series ran 38 issues). So Nelson doesn’t care about attracting new readers with a blast of a first page – he wants to intrigue us with what’s going on, and Ferreyra is an able partner in this regard. This is a beautifully drawn first page, and it’s mysterious enough to draw us in. Which is kind of the point, ain’t it?
I have counted up the results for the voting for writers to feature in April, and the top vote-getters were … well, I’m not going to tell you that, am I? One writer I would have expected finished tied for third, while the top two vote-getters were rather interesting (obviously, you can add up the votes yourself, if you so choose). The one top vote-getter is a popular writer but whose two most famous works I don’t own, so while I’ll feature him (they’re all men; Gail Simone and Ann Nocenti were the only female writers mentioned, and they each got one vote), it won’t be stuff you’re expecting. I had two writers tie for first and two for third, so I’ll feature four writers in the final 23 days of April (after the first week), with 5 days for one and 6 days for each of the others. That’s as fair as I can be. All cool? Groovy!
Next: Back to the Ultimate Universe! See where we first checked it out in the archives!
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