Story by Arash Amel
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Illustrated by Antonio Fuso
Colored by Adam Guzowski
Lettered by Steve Wands
Cover by Phil Noto
*Major Spoilage…you’ve been warned.
As I’ve gotten more involved with the comic industry, and more vigilant on the entertainment industry as well, I’ve found it easier to watch trends. Most recently of course we saw the zombie virus infect everything, birthing a Walking Dead television series and more films than the undead population after the apocalypse. I feel like we may be on the cusp of a new trend, the zombie void soon to collapse in on itself, and Arash Amel may be just the tip of the spear.
Amel is a screenwriter who takes his first dip into the comic pool with Butterfly #1, an edge of your seat spy book from Archaia. Mr. Amel’s screenwriting experience is evident in this book. The story definitely has a cinematic sculpt to it, bringing a fast-paced feeling to panels, a form that is only as speedily paced as its reader. This has a two-fold effect, speeding the story along, but also making you go back and reread pages later, which causes a whole new look at the artwork, thereby actually slowing your reading process down a little. (Please…don’t make me try and figure that out mathematically.) It just works.
The plot involves Rebecca Faulkner, who has risen in the ranks of the shadowy organizations of the world, governmental and not, to become the top in her trade, as she says “nothing more than a set of skills.” We first meet her during an operation that is in the midst of going completely off the rails, and she goes on the run. What follows is a Mission: Impossible sort of scenario, with Rebecca tracing clues to a small farmstead in the Swiss Alps. Here she spins quickly in the woods to find a pistol in her face. And here comes the genius of the storytelling, it’s her father. (Supposedly dead.) Now Amel takes the story of the father, back from this point to the last time he saw Rebecca. It’s a beautiful way to tell two stories in one book, and the reverse plotting is ingeniously done.
On to artwork. Phil Noto (Buffy, X-Men) does a wonderfully Hughes-esque cover for this first book. Marguerite Bennett (Batgirl, In the Dark: A Horror Anthology) does a lovely job with the artwork, using the cinematic style of the scripting to inform her paneling, urging on the sped up feeling I mentioned before. But it’s when you go back and look at panels that you really see how talented she is. This is only one little panel, but it tugged at me in a way I wasn’t expecting. Rebecca is in a hotel after the unexpected death of a Russian leader, and she is in the process of ditching her disguise. (That of a young mother, real baby included.) She breaks into a random room, and lays the sleeping child on the bed, safely, protected, and the panel says, “They won’t hurt you.” Perhaps it’s because my youngest son is about the same age as the one in the picture, but those panels and the dialogue included tell us so much about her character. She’s a professional, but not cold like we see agents often portrayed. (Soon after she does stab someone in the neck.)
Arash Amel and Marguerite Bennett may be on the brink of the next big thing. Perhaps as the last of the zombies fall with hammers in their heads, the newest fad will be the resurgence of the spy story. If so, Butterfly #1 is the beginning. If not, it’s still a fantastic book, written and drawn in a way that will keep me coming back for more.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.