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The Faceless: A Terry Sharp Story
Review by James W. Powell

Story
The Faceless: A Terry Sharp Story

Story
Robert Tinnell
 
art
Adrian Salmon
 
Letters
Anthony Schiavino

Publisher
Image Comics
 
Format
Softcover Original
 
Publish Date
September 28, 2005
 
Cover Price
$6.99
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Writer Robert Tinnell knows a little something about pacing, and he's the master of making sure his stories hit the ground running. For example, the first panel of The Faceless, readers are greeted with a man fleeing for his life through the shadows. Bam! Just like that, I'm in the story. And with each subsequent panel, I'm sucked a little deeper into the tale, first when I find out where he's running, and again when I discover the men chasing him deal with dark magic and demons. By page 10, I'm hooked.

While the first scene definitely grabbed me by the balls and told me I was in for a ride, the rest of the story was just as fun. Terry Sharp is a man I very well might dream of being. He's out hunting Satanists by night, but by day, he's directing classic horror films. And he's a ladies man to boot. What could be better than that?

Yet what really stood out for me is that the man isn't some typical flawless hero. He stumbles as he's running in that first scene, and he even has trouble dealing with his ex-wife. So in a way, he's the every man. You and me. And I can relate to him on at least one level. Lucky for us, he just happens to sleep with beautiful women and beat up bad guys. That's perfect escapism for me.

The Faceless: ElspethAnother thing that struck me while reading The Faceless is that there's so much more going on than what's on the surface. All of the characters have a past and Tinnell doesn't spell everything out for us. We're just thrust into the middle of the situation, which is perfect. There's never that Scooby-Doo moment when everything's explained to the reader. I for one appreciate a comic that shares the necessary information without resorting to unnatural monologues. Instead, there's a very healthy dose of mystery, with hints sprinkled around to pull you deeper and deeper.

Of course, there's more to this book than just mystery and action. For a story like this to work, there has to be romance. So in his adventure, Sharp meets Elspeth, a beautiful and tough woman who happens to be after the same answers and villains he is. And although there's nothing overt in this first volume, it's sure to come. And I'm already looking forward to watchin their relationship unfold.

The one downer I had with The Faceless is that there's a lot left unanswered in this first volume, which is definitely the first chapter to a much grander tale. As I said, Tinnell has created a pretty in-depth world here, and we do get a lot of information in this book, but I wanted a larger bite. While thoroughly enjoyable, The Faceless felt like the appetizer for a much larger feast. Readers shouldn't be swayed away from this book for this reason alone, but I do think that this book will become more enjoyable and more accessible the more volumes are published, which is one of the joys of the graphic novel format, which has a longer shelf life than the monthlies.

Art

I'm doubt my words can do justice for what Adrian Salmon has done here. The Faceless features the most stylistic comic images I've seen in an original graphic novel. And those colors...man oh man, talk about setting the mood. Each page is gorgeous, and each panel jumps off the page. But the heavily stylized art and the use of bright colors aren't used for the sake of having pretty pictures. Instead, they work together with the story. They help set the tone and emphasize the emotion of the scene. This isn't an interpretation of Terry Sharp, this IS Terry Sharp.

Believe me, I can't wait to see more from Adrian Salmon.

The Faceless Interior

Bonus Features

Let's face it, I love bonus material. The more background information I get, the more back-up stories I get to read, the better. And with The Faceless, you get a little of both. First up you get a review of Terry Sharp's film, "The Return of Frankenstein" which actually helps ground the fictional character and adds a touch of realism to the entire story. Along those same lines, there's also an interview with Suzanne Morell, the lead actress in "The Return of Frankenstein."

Then there's my favorite of the bunch, a short story by Neil Vokes that takes a look at Sharp's film from a scholarly perspective. Finally, there's the behind-the-scenes pages that include rough sketches, images, and email notes between the creators.

It should also be noted that there's a full-page ad for the upcoming Terry Sharp story: Yellow. I wouldn't normally point this out, but man, that's one frickin' cool image. If Mr. Salmon's reading this, I suggest you offer signed posters of that ad. Hell, add some "cast and crew" information on the bottom like a movie one-sheet and you've got yourself a whole new business venture.

Final Words

For $7, you get a lot of entertainment. I think the main feature is well worth the time and money, but with The Faceless, you get some good bonus material too. While I certainly would've liked a longer story that carries Terry Sharp a little further along his path to get closer to that ultimate face-off with the bad guys, I can't fault this for being the first part of a series and making me wait for the next installment.

Highly Recommended


James has written for such fine web sites as DVDtalk, Broken Frontier, and Paperback Reader. He lives in Denver with his lovely wife and two cats who wake him up at 3 a.m.
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