The fun part about doing comic book reviews is when something comes completely out of nowhere, provides a sharp, entertaining read and leaves me wanting more. “Memorial” by Chris Roberson and Rich Ellis is one of those books.
Roberson has introduced a young lady who goes by the name “Em,” which may or may not be her real name. That’s an unimportant detail, at least for now. What is important is that she has suspended complete disbelief of her situation.
Em stranded on an island with a talking cat named Schrodinger. The two of them came through a door at the end of the first issue. That door, like Em and Schrodinger, is still on the beach of the island. Roberson writes delightful dialog for the two (yes, the cat can talk) and sets them off on an adventure. That adventure involves finding something to eat and Schrodinger explaining to Em the nature of things.
Those things put a twist into this story and make this book a queer blend of ideas and concepts that flirt with notions presented by the works of L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll and C.S. Lewis. Things don’t get topsy-turvy “drink me” crazy, but they do get weird. Shadows come to life, offering transportation via light from candlestick. Cats talk. And memories take the shape of murderous statues.
Rich Ellis keeps the story grounded, giving Em a real world to turn to and a fastastic other place to discover. Ellis’ art is almost exactly what one would expect to see at the phrase “typical comic book art.” There’s not a great deal of flashy panel layouts or dynamic character appearances, but there are plenty of fine details, expressive faces and body language, and wondrous imagery to investigate. Ellis keeps the artwork wonderful without pushing it into mind-boggling, and that works wonderfully for this story. Grace Allison’s colors also give some zip to Ellis’ drawings.
“Memorial” is a lovely looking book with some memorable scenes and a mystery adventure waiting to be investigated. There isn’t a great deal of information shared about Em, but the lands of Is, Was, and Maybe offer seemingly limitless potential. Roberson has a nifty concept here that is smartly brought to paper and waits to be expanded into your minds. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path that provides a breath of fresh air from the relaunches, cancellations and crossovers elsewhere in comics, give this book a look.