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Review time! with San Hannibal #2

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I never get tired of receiving comics in the mail!

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Pj Perez, the mastermind behind Pop! Goes the Icon, is a swell dude, and he likes sending me his comics even though I’d be perfectly happy spending money on them. Last year he sent me the first issue of San Hannibal, which debuted in his anthology series Omega Comics Presents, and now he’s sent me the second issue. I was waiting for the trade, but I’m always happy to read his comics, so I will review the hell out of this! SanHannibalart2002It’s in stores tomorrow, so if you happen to see it, give it a look. Unless your store didn’t get it, which is sad. Issue #2 is written and drawn by Dan Schkade and colored and lettered by Jesse Snavlin. It’s only $2.99, which makes the price points of certain bigger publishers even more ridiculous, but let’s not get into that here!

In issue #1 of San Hannibal, we were introduced to Avery, a private investigator in the titular city, which is located in Northern California. He was hired to find a photojournalist, Savannah Loy, who had gone missing, and clues led him to a nightclub, where he was accosted by a man who may or may not have been Loy’s boyfriend, rescued by a mysterious small woman who kicks ass, and intrigued by Diane Thrax, a singer who knew something about a “swimmer,” which was a word scrawled onto notes Avery found in Loy’s apartment. It was all very noir-ish and very good.

In this issue, JD Faith, who drew the first issue, is not around any longer, as Schkade takes over the art as well as the writing, but there’s no drop-off in the art. Schkade’s work is definitely Tim Sale-esque, but as Tim Sale is really good, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. His work is a bit less angular than Faith’s was in issue #1, as Faith gave us a city with a lot of hard edges, while Schkade’s is a bit more curvy. SanHannibalart3003His characters are fascinating, as he gives them a great deal of personality just through the way the act with the other characters. Avery (we learn his first name in this issue – this is his last name) is a bit less beaten up in this issue, but he looks more conniving, and you can understand how he’s able to put clues together in this issue and bluff his way through some of the more dire circumstances he finds himself in. Daniel Russo, who spends his time taking pictures of women running around a track, has a layer of long hair on top of his head while the sides are shaved, a style that always make someone look like a pervert, and Schkade gives him the slightest bit of facial hair, thick lips, and bulbous cheekbones, so that he looks skeevy even before he reveals himself to be skeevy. Diane is a bit less punk rock than she was in issue #1, but she looks more sophisticated, which fits in with what we learn about her in this issue. Schkade doesn’t do a ton with the exterior scenes, but we still get a good feel for the city, and his interiors have a good sense of place about them. When Avery is taken to meet “No Christmas” at a gym where Fight Club-style battles are occurring, Schkade does a very nice job with the layouts when a mysterious masked stranger shows up and starts shooting – it becomes very chaotic and kinetic, but Schkade’s pages are never confusing. Snavlin, meanwhile, does a superb job with the colors. Issue #1 was colored red and pink, but this time around, blue is the dominant hue, and Schkade’s use of heavy blacks, combined with the wonderful blues Snavlin uses, make the book really beautiful. Cleverly, about halfway through Snavlin begins introducing the pinks from issue #1, beginning with the kick-ass stranger and her chaperone from issue #1, then using a bit of pink on Diane when she takes Avery to the gym before mixing it in really effectively when the shooting starts. SanHannibalart4004It’s tremendous – pink usually isn’t associated with violence, but because the blues are so prevalent, the pink pops nicely and makes the scene a bit more traumatic. Snavlin lettered the book, too, and there’s an empty word balloon during the weird dude’s assault on the gym. Is that deliberate, as Avery isn’t supposed to hear him? Or is it a mistake? I don’t know, but we know the dude – August, I guess his name is – can talk, because he does earlier in the issue. Either way, both the pencil art and the coloring work on the book is absolutely beautiful.

Schkade, meanwhile, continues to write a very compelling mystery. I like detective comics, so maybe I’m predisposed to like the comic, but Schkade does a nice job with the story. The mystery is interesting – Loy disappeared, but there’s still no evidence that she was kidnapped, and she seems to be have been working on a story about sex trafficking, but maybe not. Two issues in, there’s still no evidence that Avery is actually needed to find her, although all sorts of odd people come out of the woodwork when Avery starts asking about her. Obviously, she was into something weird, but nobody’s talking. Russo doesn’t say much, and when Diane is about to tell Avery something, August attacks the club. Avery is hustled away and put in a van, where he meets “B. Traven,” another mysterious dude who talks mysteriously and seems to disappear from inside a locked container. The dude who attacked Avery in the bar in issue #1 has also disappeared, which is strange. SanHannibalart5005Usually I’m not too happy with people speaking cryptically just to be cryptic, but Schkade skirts the line nicely, as Avery calls people out on it, which is a good way to deflate it, and there’s enough straight-forward talk to mitigate the cryptic stuff. Schkade might be going to places where I hope he doesn’t go – I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s an obvious element to the story that’s been in the background for the first two issues, and it seems like Schkade is moving toward it even though it’s a bit clichéd – but so far, the journey is quite fascinating. We have a bunch of interesting characters, from Avery himself to Thrax to No Christmas, who might be my favorite just because of the way Schkade completely upends what we think of him in a few pages. August, with his cybernetic jaw, might be a bit outlandish, but we’ve seen there’s a hint of the unusual in San Hannibal, so it’s not a big deal.

Two issues in, San Hannibal is shaping up to be a very good detective story. Avery is an interesting protagonist, the case is mysterious but not impenetrable, the ancillary characters are bizarre and fascinating, and the art is superb. I was looking forward to reading the rest of the book back when I read the first issue, and now I’m even more excited about it. If you see this at your store, give it a look, and if you don’t, I’m sure Perez will be more than happy to sell you a print copy or a digital one. He’s flexible like that!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

8 Comments

Gosh thank you for such a flattering review. As to your letterin question, it was scripted as intentional. You are right on the money: Avery can’t hear him.

Travis Pelkie

June 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Huh, it was on Previews list for last week, so hopefully my copy will come in tomorrow. I enjoyed issue 1, excepting some egregious typos (it’s been a month, so I’ll have to look at it again for specifics — I know a character name was wrong in the first appearance of the name). I’ll share my views on 1 and 2 when I get a chance.

Travis: I noticed that typo, too. Very weird. According to Schkade, it came out last week, but in the press release I got, it says tomorrow. I’m not sure, but I imagine it will show up soon!

tom fitzpatrick

June 17, 2014 at 6:01 pm

I agree with you on the Tim Sale-like comparison. Speaking of whom, are you gonna do a Sale showcase?

I can get that you love receiving comics in the mail – it’s free! I so want your job, but without all the blogging! ;-)

T.P. would be dodging my every sentence, word, punctuation, hell, even my use of italics! Just not worth the hassle! ;-)

Travis Pelkie

June 17, 2014 at 6:05 pm

I would be “dogging” your every word, Tom.

Diamond surprise bumped it back. SURPRISE! Oh Diamond, you scamp.

Travis Pelkie

June 17, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Alright. My retailer and I were trying to figure out if he just missed it on my vast pull list sheet (god, I’ve got to cut that back — but too many good comics like this are around!), or if it didn’t come in, or what. I hope to get to the shop in the next couple days and will post my thoughts. Issue 1 was pretty dang good!

Travis Pelkie

June 30, 2014 at 1:45 am

Finally read 2 (and 1 again), but now it’s been long enough that I can’t remember specifics that I wanted to say. I’d say that 2 upped the ante and the action, but also seemed to confuse things a bit (a little too much cryptic to be cryptic for me). However, it’s an excellent book, the art change is obviously noticeable but not so jarring that it’s a dealbreaker, and on my re-read, the only egregious typo I noticed this time was the “Sannanah Loy” when her name is first mentioned. Either I imagined typos before or I skipped over them somehow.

Anyway, for quotable purposes (if PJ or anyone wants to use it):

San Hannibal is like the wonderful creepy noir baby of Ted McKeever’s Transit and the Los Bros issues of Mister X, with a compelling mystery, exciting action, and dayglo coloring. Well worth reading!

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