Written by: Andrew Maxwell and Peter Miriani
Illustrated by: Mauricio Alvarez
Colored by: Derek Dow
Lettered by: Bernardo Brice
Reviewed by: Kristian Horn
Every once in a while, the wonderful world of our internet connectivity will deliver you a terrific surprise. As the purveyor of this website/podcast/blog/whatever I will sometimes get review requests from creators and projects I’ve never heard of. I don’t get the chance to review all of them as the site is actually called Part-Time Fanboy and this is mainly a side-gig but every once in a while, a project of such excellence comes through my e-mail box that I just have to read it, soak it up, and hopefully share it with the masses.
This time that project is Aldous Spark, Meddler in History and Other Unsavory Affairs.
From the moment I opened up the PDF to read it, I could tell that Aldous Spark was something special. This is a beautiful looking book. Gorgeously designed, expertly illustrated, fantastically colored…as an independently created comic book it is a project that stands head and shoulders above even a lot of stuff that the major publishers are putting out. Visually it’s stunning.
Mauricio Alvarez has a professional style that is able to handle the demands of both storytelling and draftsmanship equally well. Alvarez is lucky enough to be paired with colorist Derek Dow who breathes that extra bit of life into the artwork that all great colorists bring. Aldous Spark is a prime example of what an indie comic looks like when it’s done right.
But what, or who, is Aldous Spark? Aldous Spark is an adventurer/scientist carved in the mold of Indiana Jones or Sherlock Holmes. What makes Spark distinctive is that he happens to be a dwarf. The titular lead of the comic resides during and in an alternate steampunk era of London where he ponders scientific questions and engages in adventures much like the aforementioned Messrs. Jones and Holmes. Spark has an assistant/protoge named Isaiah, a young black man who is intellectually brilliant but completely stymied by his mentor’s penchant for adventure. Together they seek lost artifacts and investigate secret societies all the while attempting to avoid the nefarious types who attempt to halt or out and out kill them on the way.
The writers have crafted a fun tale of derring-do in the pages of Aldous Spark. The plot is interesting and well thought out. The main characters are fleshed out enough that they don’t come across as cardboard cutout adventurers and have distinctive, individual personalities of their own. Maxwell and Miriani certainly know how to spin an adventure yarn as from the moment I picked up the book I didn’t want to put it down. Aldous Spark reminded me very much of another Victorian-era type of adventure book which was originally published by Crossgen Comics, a book called Ruse. If you remember Ruse you know that that last sentence was the highest form of compliment I could give as Ruse, as far as I’m concerned, is a comic book that is a forgotten classic.
And, yes, Aldous Spark is that good and that fun. If this first chapter of the exploits of Aldous Spark is any indication Maxwell, Miriani, and Alvarez could have an indie classic in the making. I think that Aldous Spark could ignite quite a following if it’s able to make it into the larger reading public’s hands.