Vault Comics takes you to a world filled with trepidation and uncertainty in Resonant #2, out this week. Continuing the story of a family trying to survive after global catastrophe, David Andry and Alejandro Aragon begin to expand the landscape while developing the character’s emotional states.
After the atmospheric opening issue, the creators have more time to elaborate on the setting, extend the narrative, and explore the character’s relationships.
A Resonant Narrative
In the first issue Andry set the scene for his post-apocalyptic world using the small family unit as a focal point of the narrative. In issue two he has expanded the world, taking Paxton, the father figure, into the wild world beyond but also by bringing someone new to the homestead.
Paxton’s journey is one of world building. Andry uses the traveling man to introduce characters and ideas which may, or may not, prove important further down the line. These scenes act like a road map to the world, in essence uncovering for the reader sections marked with ‘here be dragons’. During this exploration the reader gets a good idea of the landscape which exists within Resonant.
For the most part these scenes prove interesting. They introduce a friend for Paxton to talk with and give the reader extra insight into the ‘Waves’ that terrorise the land. Some of the new aspects of the plot are intriguing and the settings are beautifully rendered however, there is an element that feels un-original.
Just like other comics in this genre, The Walking Dead or Orphan Age for example, there are elements that seem necessary to facilitate the narrative: a religious sect, an unexplained threat, an outpost of survivors. Unfortunately for Resonant, over familiarity with some of these elements make it harder to do something new and different with them. Andry succeeds in some areas, keeping the storytelling fresh, but there are moments in Paxton’s journey that lose the fight against the clichés.
The second part of the comic, with the children left behind, is where Resonant really succeeds as a drama. The claustrophobic nature of the children’s situation and the unnerving atmosphere that is created builds a growing tension which is far more exciting than Paxton’s journey. Andry focuses on the vulnerability of the children and the potential threat from the outside, gripping the reader in an emotional trap.
With stories like Resonant that rely on genre mainstays, the success comes from the telling of the tale rather than the tale itself. In this respect Resonant is a glorious success. Aragon’s inks set the scene perfectly, giving each page a rough, unnerving atmosphere. His line work is scratchy allowing him to easily define or confuse images dependant on the scene.
Occasionally the figures blend into the scenery becoming one and the same, while at other times, when the narrative calls for clarity, the cast are set in almost empty panels. Aragon is also able to control the point of view with a delicate precision. So much so that there are panel transitions that make you believe a camera has slowly zoomed in on a character or prop giving you a sense of vertigo. The comic almost pulls you in to the dry and dusty world.
The uncomfortable and foreboding atmosphere prevalent in Resonant is controlled by Jason Wordie’s skilful use of color. He uses a stark contrast of light and shadows within a page to emphasis a particular panel. On a page turn the reader is drawn to the most important element of the page initially by the coloring and then works toward that image via the usual reading pattern. In turn this creates anticipation within a scene, building the tension necessary to give the narrative it’s punch.
Wordie’s colors also gives the overall world of Resonant it’s character. The storing use of hot oranges and dry terracotta’s have an effect on the reader as they move from page to page. Paxton’s journey especially is through an uncomfortable world seemingly of relentless struggle. The character’s blur in and out of the background amplifying their fears and emotional states.
Only Deron Bennett’s lettering is able to bring the cast out with plain white speech balloons at odds with the colors of the panels. The speech and the gutters, matching in their cleanness, are the only none natural elements within the comic. The gutters separate the panels, creating focus on time and location, and the speech separates the character from the landscape. The balloons stand out and draw the reader to them, looking for characterisation and explanations. The artwork sets the scene and the text gives it meaning.
The visual aspect of Resonant is the main draw for this comic. Wordie’s colors over Aragon’s artwork is a beautiful world building experience. The threat, the fear and even the brief moments of emotional stability are best represented by the art. The plot follows a typical path for this type of story which is highlighted in some of the unoriginal sequences. There is an urge to skip over one or two scenes as the reader recognises them from any number of similar comics however, the art makes it almost impossible to do so.
The first issue set the tone and this second issue has expanded the world. Now it is up to the creative team to give the reader a new experience in a familiar world. Based on what we have already seen, Andry and Co are perfectly capable of doing this.