ADVANCE REVIEW: Jennifer Wilde #2

 

Jennifer Wilde #2

Written by: Maura McHugh

Art by: Stephen Downey

Publisher: Atomic Diner

Release Date: Upcoming

REVIEW: This is the second issue of highly anticipated series from Atomic Diner. The first issue was a hugely pleasant surprise with its enticing mix of luscious art and alluring plot. It was my hope that this would continue apace with this issue and thankfully I wasn’t disappointed.

Maura McHugh has crafted a layered tale with depth and consequence. After two issues of this book, it is clear that the first issue was no flash in the pan as the story continued in its new setting in London. The book opens with a great scene in Liverpool Street Station where, on the apparent behest of Michael Collins, an assassination is about to take place but is called off at the last moment. We then quickly see Jennifer and Oscar stumble upon Tipper O’Grady in some peril and in those opening few pages McHugh has the reader absolutely hooked. As the issue barrels on with excellent use of intrigue and a great grasp of pacing to its conclusion, you get the feeling of fulfillment after finishing it, like you read something well worth your time. I particualrly liked how McHugh wrote the character of Oscar Wilde. His scenes stood out more to me than the previous issue and his lines were among the more memorable in the book which is not to say that the rest of the cast were anything but compelling. The script is rich and full with healthy doses of characterisation which is sometimes hard to pull off when you have an eclectic mix of cast like this book has. I have no problem saying that this is probably one of the best books that any company in Ireland will release this year.
Stephen Downey’s art is a huge selling point for this book. His black and white style is incredibly beautiful with a huge amount of detail gone into every page. When you see the first page, you ignore any text just for a minute just to study the art with its great layout and visual representation of a smoky 1920’s railway station that just about jumps off the page. The whole book continues like this with great panel layouts especially when the script calls for something dynamic like the visual from the last page, which I won’t spoil. The feel and tone of the art reminds me of those old black and white films set in a bustling London which seemed to capture the constant movement of a city in the midst of industrial expansion. The nods to those bygone cinematic days are present in a beautiful page where you can see the weather-beaten posters to Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, The Three Musketeers and more. This page was a nice example of how full Downey’s pages are with every square inch of that page having something to look at. Mention must go to how great a grasp Downey has as well on drawing architecture with the issue full of great towering images from London’s roaring 20’s. Downey stands to make a large impression on those who discover his great talent on this book and it’s richly deserved.
This book is quickly marking itself out as one of Ireland’s premiere books.  It will be interesting to see how the tone of the story will shift with the next issue where we will see a change in location for the story. But after two incredibly strong issues I have total faith in all involved to ensure a satisfactory continuation to this little gem.  
On a side note, this book is nominated for an Eagle Award this year for best European Comic. Voting for that is now underway and I can assure you that Jennifer Wilde is well worth your vote. You can follow this link to cast your vote: http://www.eagleawards.co.uk/