Innocent Vol. 1
Shawn Granger
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Buy *Innocent Volume1: 2006-2007 Collection* by Shawn Granger online

Innocent Volume1: 2006-2007 Collection
Shawn Granger
King Tractor Press
196 pages
October 2007
rated 2 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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This trade collection contains the first five issues of the Innocent comic, telling tales from the life of fallen angel Innocent and his mortal friend David as they judge guilty souls and sentence them to particularly violent executions. Innocent is determined to purge the world of evil, and enlisting a human to assist him is only one of the cases of moral ambiguity in this collection: where do we draw the line between justice and violence? Regrettably, Innocent fails to fulfill this promising potential by creating dull storylines, settling for mediocre art, and ignoring hard questions (or any questions, really).

For all the possibilities open to this premise, Granger chooses the most boring. Innocent and David spend most of their time in the comic preparing to kill people, killing them, and occasionally cleaning up their mess. No discussions of good and evil. No psychological or philosophical exposition. No real backstory on either protagonist (How did Innocent fall? How did he meet David?). No explanation of what’s going on (why are there cultists with eagle heads?). Instead there’s a fistful of trite, faux-gritty, and decidedly not funny noir-ish dialogue followed by bashing some heads in. As there is little in the way of meaningful denouement for any of these stories, the ultimate effect after reading them is the question of why one bothered.

To see what I mean about dialogue, consider this oh-so-witty repartee:

Prostitute (lured into a trap, now hanging over a cauldron, blindfolded—hearing Innocent and David bust in): “Did someone just come in? Even late comers have to pay full price.”

Innocent: “I think we found the party.”

Irate Cultist: “I think you’ve found your doom!”
You’d think if Granger were to completely ignore atmosphere or character development that he’d put some work into making the present scene worth reading. When the dialogue isn’t trying—and failing—to be witty, it’s painfully dry, again feeling like it’s hardly worth it.

The writing is matched by the utterly mediocre art, which only succeeds in being completely uninspired. The character drawings are entirely archetypal; perhaps this is the comic making up for its complete lack of development by drawing its characters to look like ones we do care about. Innocent is slim, muscular, missing an eye, blah blah blah; David is every large bald thug with a somewhat psychopathic grin. Taking aspects from Japanese manga and American comics—and using the worst of both—Innocent makes itself just as one-dimensional to look at as it does to read. This is supplemented by some backgrounds which appear to be completely arbitrary, making themselves noticeable purely through their senseless strangeness. Hence scenes as a whole are either remarkably bland or uncoordinated and gangly.

It may be too early to give up on this comic. Perhaps with some more skilled artists and a greater effort towards developing a real story, this series can redeem itself. And while Innocent’s niche in the comic world is somewhat crowded, it wouldn’t take much innovation to stand out. Unfortunately, all one can say of this volume is that it’s an unpromising dud.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Max Falkowitz, 2008

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