Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: Karen Marie Moning's Fever Moon


STORY/CREATOR: Karen Marie Moning
PENCILS: Al Rio, Cliff Richards
INKS: Julia Pinto, Joe Pimentel, and Dan Borgones
COLORS: Katrina Mae Hao and Rainier Beredo
LETTERS: Zachary R. Matheny
COVER: Al Rio with Stephen Youll and Mae Hao
ISBN: 978-0-345-52548-2; hardcover
192pp, Color, $25.00 U.S., $29.95 CAN

Karen Marie Moning is a New York Times bestselling author and has won the RITA Award from the Romance Writers of America. Moning is the author of a popular series of urban fantasy novels known as the “Fever Series.” Moning makes her first foray into the world of comic books with Fever Moon, an original graphic novel. Fever Dream corresponds with the events depicted in Moning’s novel, Shadowfever (January 2011).

Moning wrote a new story specifically for this graphic novel, which David Lawrence turned into a script for a comic book. Lawrence is known for his work adapting novels into comic books, having adapted the works of fantasy novelist Patricia Briggs into comic book for Del Rey. Al Rio provided most of the pencil art for this graphic novel before his death; fellow Brazilian artist, Cliff Richards, finished penciling the Fever Moon.

As in the “Fever” novels, the star of Fever Moon is MacKayla Lane, who was a normal 20-something, small town, Georgia girl before tragedy struck. She travels to Ireland to investigate the murder of her sister, where she learns that the Celtic folklore concerning fairies is true. The “Fae” are split into the Light (Seelie) and Dark (Unseelie) and their war has spilled over into the human world. MacKayla becomes a “sidhe-ser,” a person who can see the Fae for who and what they are, even when they use glamour to hide their true appearances.

Now, MacKayla is facing an eerie, dangerous being that steals parts of people faces – an ear here, an eye there, a random mouth, etc. Appearing as a tall, gaunt, faceless man nattily dressed in tailcoat and spats, he is terrorizing Dublin and leaving his victims in a coma. MacKayla not only has to discover what kind of creature the attacker is; she must also find a way to stop him. And time is not on MacKayla’s side.

I must admit that it was not until I received a review copy of Fever Moon with press materials from Del Rey that I learned that Al Rio had died. I had become a fan of his work in recent years because his art style was a funky kind of ersatz J. Scott Campbell. Rio did his Campbell thing on Fever Moon; in fact, MacKayla Lane looks like she came out of Campbell’s infrequently published comic book property, Danger Girl. The art here is such a Danger Girl knockoff that I often found it off-putting. Rio’s style is so prominent that it is hard not to notice the change when Cliff Richards takes over as pencil artist. Richard’ style, at least the one here, is non-descript.

Perhaps, the easy thing to do is to say that the art, regardless of style, works from a storytelling point of view; there is a functional quality to it. Combined with the captions and word balloons, the reader can easily figure out what’s going on in the story because of the clear graphical storytelling. Like the art, the story is also efficient. Lawrence translates Moning’s story and the world of “Fever” in such a way that he quickly gets the reader into the story, lest that reader become frustrated and leave, which you won’t.

Lawrence makes sure you understand the characters, settings, and over-arching plot, and “Fever,” at least as far as Fever Moon is concerned, is a fun place to be. Whatever the novels may be, Fever Moon works as a comic book. It has a weird, pulp-inspired quality that made me think that Fever Moon exists outside of any book series. It is genuinely a comic book, so the people behind this graphic novel succeeded. They created an independent urban fantasy comic book, and a good one, at that.


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