Some comics wear their influences on their proverbial sleeves more than others. And while there’s never any 100% certainty about where creators are coming from when looking at their comics, you can sometimes make a pretty safe bet at just a glance. So with that in mind, I’ll put it out there: Adam McGovern and Paolo Leandri’s “Nightworld” #1 comes across as a love letter to the comics of Jack Kirby. And that’s a good thing.
Leandri’s art reminds me so much of Kirby’s it’s hard to shake the feeling that this isn’t a lost Kirby comic. It’s not a copy of Kirby, but rather comes from that same basic headspace. The squared off fingers, the tight focuses on faces that fill the panels, the framing of images to fill the area — there’s just something about these pages that screams Kirby. Take page 4, for example, with Lidia as she moves across the page. The way her hair wafts behind her, the closed eyes as she maneuvers throughout the home, even the dancing figures in the music box. There’s a grace and a tension in those pages, one that brings to mind one of the great masters of superhero comics.
I also appreciate Leandri’s lush images that set the tone of McGovern’s script. When Plenilunio appears standing on page 5, your eye glides across the page perfectly. Look at the branches in the window, and how they guide your eyes across his body and also across the page. It’s only once you’ve finished that where you can catch all of the little details; the engraved chest, the rat on the ground, the shards of broken glass. There’s a certain level of majesty in these pages, and Leandri nails every last one of them.
McGovern’s script is an intriguing one; you could read all of “Nightworld” #1 ignoring the captions and get a good enough sense of what’s going on. But add in the words and there’s a quiet poetry to them, as Plenilunio narrates the tragedy of his and Lidia’s life. The basic idea of him doing anything to try and restore Lidia — even if it destroys his own soul — is a familiar one, but it’s the execution where it shines with moments like this. The dialogue itself is a little over the top at times, but it actually provides a lot of fun in doing so. There’s a virtual spring in the step of the comic thanks to how McGovern writes it, an energy that propels you into wanting to see more.
“Nightworld” #1 is a good debut for these two creators, and I’m glad that Image picked this book up. It’s fun looking and stands out in both story and art from those around it. Take a look, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.