Purity #1 (ADVANCE)


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Purity #1 (ADVANCE)


  • Words: Shawn Lewis
  • Art: Andres Guinaldo
  • Inks: Juan Salcedo
  • Colors: N/A
  • Story Title: Michael Rome
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Dec 6, 2006

Dakuwaka’s latest mini-series has been heralded as Constantine meets The Prophecy, though what I wish it could be championed as was something worth reading.

I’m a huge fan of Helios, and firmly believed that Force 51 held solid potential (even if its first issue was a mite flawed), so it was with a considerable amount of relish that I received Dakuwaka’s latest foray into comicdom – Purity. I’d heard a fair bit about the series – heard it described as the aforementioned movie meshing, plus I’d read the creators wax poetic on how proud they were of the concept and the product. With such prelected ambition and excitement surrounding the book, I figured that – where Force 51 had lost me – Purity would ante up nicely. Sadly, nothing could have been farther from the truth.

The story is that of two angels – one fallen, one heaven-sent – who come to Earth to enlist the services on a man named Michael Rome, for reasons yet to be revealed. They say they need him to find a particular woman, whose importance is also not divulged though whose captors are folks that even the Almighty and the Devil fear. So…an intriguing enough premise thus far, though with such theological genre-blenders as this (whose misappropriation of sacred mythology will forever make a naturally enticing story, no matter the specifics), it’ll be the blow-by-blow execution that determines the book’s merits as an entity of its own. Yet it’s here that Purity runs itself into the ground.

Much as in Force 51, writer Shawn Lewis’ script suffers from general pacing issues (characters come and go without proper transitions to smoothen the shift, plus the movement between fight sequences and character sequences seem textbook structural, sans all semblance of honest rhythm). Though in Force, Lewis managed to deliver an ensemble of likable and curious characters, plus he retained a focus to the story that was acceptably radiant even if the explicit implementations of certain devices remained dim. In Purity, however, the characters are quickly recognizable as one-dimensional, one-trick ponies, and the plot never does find a center that can hold, and by the middle of the issue things just plain fall apart. First off, there’re the two angels that act as point-of-view protagonists. The fallen one is little more than one might expect – selfish and angry and reactionary – and the heaven-sent angel is equally so – kind and loving and reasonable. Which would be fine for something more comic, even blackly so, but Purity tries for few laughs and wants instead to be something much more dramatically venturous. Yet even the (anti-)hero of the piece, Michael Rome, is merely an enigma, with abilities that are never explained, and a personality akin to Vin Diesel’s in XXX; he’s a bad-ass and he’s also a straight-up ass, but holds not one iota of psychological depth beyond.

Moving away from character, the plot is apparently something big (though why or how it’s big is not revealed), and the stakes extremely high, though again not in any way that’s comprehensible. The execution of this extremely vague plot is additionally riddled in plot holes. Two of the most bothersome: 1) the issue opens on the fallen angel speaking to two shadowed individuals (God and Satan?). She says she’ll start the story with "the woman." But then the story doesn’t start with any woman, and in fact, no woman of any import appears until (possibly) the very last page! So we learn nothing about who this spoken-of woman is, or why she’s important, or what any of the players have to do with her, though the story is supposedly "starting with the woman." 2) Michael Rome tells the two angels that he’s "found the woman," at which point the heaven-sent angel replies that not all the choirs in Heaven or the legions in Hell could do so. But Rome reclines and falls asleep after saying "wake me when we get there" without ever actually telling the angels where to go. Yet somehow the angels seem to know and go straight to the place regardless.

Beyond these specific quibbles, the action is prevalent but pointless, always seeming to have been easily avoidable, only Rome may enjoy it (does he? It’s honestly hard to tell anything about him yet). The only somewhat-emotional scene in the book is between the two angels, but the pathos there isn’t more than a single note played melodramatically loud and with virtually no additional orchestration to back it up. And beyond all of this, the story is scene upon scene of mounting confusion due to the writer’s apparent penchant to keep everything – including characterization and purpose and point – completely under wraps. This may have seemed like a brilliant play from the point-of-view of the guy who already knows the ins and outs of the entire set-up, but for the reader, it is akin to offering a no-carb, no-fat, no-salt, no-taste meal on which to dine.

The art by Andres Guinaldo and Juan Salcedo is both good and bad, offering both pages of intricate detail and masterful skill, but also a handful of scenes with awkward figures and murky continuity and motion. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge, though the final pages are the best, and if they are a show of what this duo can now do (had they perhaps a learning curve during the course of illustrating this issue), then future issues are sure to be a beauteous thing to behold. Guinaldo is also taking over the main art chores on Helios, so all the work and practice may bring the look of Purity to an even higher level than expected!

Final call: Purity is a very mixed bag. It’s a book a lot of folks are going to want to like, and that may in itself be enough to keep people attached until it proves whether or not it can be better than this. Sadly, what’s offered in this first issue is little more than unconsidered, manhandled good intentions, and leaves little hope for anything different, though Lewis has shown better stuff than this before, but then again maybe it’s the subject matter that’s making him lazy. It’s a hard thing to judge beyond what’s given, and so I can only do just that, and given what’s in Purity #1 alone, this is one poorly done comic.

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