CRIMSON FLOWER #1, available Wednesday from Dark Horse Comics, is the start of a new series full of lore and revenge, as one woman seeks to right the wrongs of her past. The lines between fantasy and reality are about to blur thanks to this series.
Avid readers are certainly familiar with the concept of infusing an active (and frequently alarming) plot with bits of folklore. Or they’ve come across a fairytale retelling or something else. Yet these twists aren’t as common in the comic book world, making Crimson Flower a standout right from the start.
To be clear, this is not a fairytale retelling. Though it is twisted, so it has that much going for it. The series follows a young woman, one who has always had a love of Russian folklore. Her love wasn’t diminished, even after witnessing a horrible event.
If anything, it solidified the world for her. Now she has an escape, as well as a plan for acting out her revenge fantasy. And it all starts with Crimson Flower #1.
Crimson Flower #1 is a disturbing yet enchanting beginning to this series. With a few quick flourishes and some personal information, readers are quickly sucked into this harrowing adventure. The folklores pulled into this issue certainly feel right at home with the gore and bloodshed that splashes across the pages.
Written by Matt Kindt, there is something almost ethereal about how the stories seep onto the page, around the protagonist and her actions. The result is an intentionally confusing situation, as the lines between fact and fiction fade away, giving the character complete control over the narrative.
There are moments wholly grounded in reality – most of which surrounding the main character’s backstory and her explanation for being. Once that bit is out of the way, readers are thrown headfirst into something else.
The lore pulled into this issue would have been powerful enough on its own, but it’s the visual storytelling elements that take this series to a whole new level, as the two work flawlessly together.
Crimson Flower #1 is, visually speaking, one of the most unique issues out there right now. The characters are heavily stylized, while their worlds are open to new interpretations and changes in form, as legends take over the storytelling.
Matt Lesniewski (artist) and Bill Crabtree (colorist) did a truly wonderful job here. One of the most striking decisions made for Crimson Flower is the choice to play with proportions. One moment the world looks ordinary. The next, a hallway grows in length, or a hand or hair grows a mind of its own.
It is alarming and compelling, all at the same time. When combined with the textures and colors, it becomes an absolute mind-bending experience. One that is narratively fitting and admittedly highly unique. All of which leaves an intense first impression about this series.
Crimson Flower #1 is a bold and somewhat dark introduction to a series that is as memorable as it is unique. The inclusion of Russian folklore has already done so much to make this story feel alive, especially when used alongside all of the spirited artwork.