Title: Barren: The Think Line Between Life and Death, issue 1
Writer: C.J. Labbé
Illustrator/Colorist: Toyin Ajetunmobi
Letterer: Rick Joseph
It has been a while since I have been blessed with a new comic to read. I was looking for something fresh and exciting that I couldn’t put down. A real page turner that still holds some of the traditions that comic books have upheld through American history, while still giving me something unique that I didn’t know that I yearned for. Then, I discovered this book.
We are introduced to Maxson Bernard, who, by day is a Haitian-decent toxicologist who is looking for the missing link between a case we will be uncovering as we continue through its pages. However, with his understanding of the supernatural, at night, he becomes a warrior fighting those who seems to slip through the all too often tender grip of justice.
Dancing between the two cultures, Maxson explains a little bit of his background. Being born as what the Haitians call a Kwafé; those who are born with the umbilical cord wrapped around their neck and possess the ability to see the supernatural. With his knowledge of both magic and science, he becomes Baron Samedi (Saturday in French), skulking through the streets on his motorcycle, as a vigilante with an agenda that parallels the final puzzle piece discovered through his day job. When understanding Haitian culture and folklore, Baron Samedi is usually depicted with a white skull, top hat, black tuxedo, dark glasses, and cotton plugs in the nostrils, as if to resemble a corpse dressed and prepared for burial in the Haitian style. This deity is often depicted in a negative light in media due to a misunderstanding of Voodoo by those outside the religion, so it’s nice to see his image utilized by the protagonist of our story. Samedi can be a demon or a savior, constantly playing with that thin line that separates life and death, but it all depends on the choices you make and the sins you’ve committed.
The polished style this comic presents is astounding. When having the pleasure to read this comic, I was blown away by the visuals; giving me the feeling that I would be able to go to my local comic shop and find it under the New Release Wednesday section, and with time, I hope I do. The coloring is nothing short of beautiful, with a true artist who understands how color theory can manipulate our emotions. The art is simultaneously bright while still being a clean contrast to the deep blacks and grays used to keep the that supernatural, grungy, tense look; keeping you on edge as you burn through. While the style itself pays homage to American style comics that have stood tall through the ages, the story is compelling, while making sure to paint a well-rounded picture of each character; how they operate as a person, and a nice dip into revealing a little bit of their personalities.
As we progress through the comic, we get a solid understanding of Maxson and who he is while still leaving so many questions unanswered, leaving room and curiosity for an issue two. I would like to see how he came about becoming Baron Samedi, as well as the world these creators are building for our enjoyment. To the supernatural elements and the very real moments like a blonde woman messing up a name can bring it back to realism, I’m left eagerly awaiting issue two.
If you wish to purchase this comic for yourself, please go to this link to support the creators of Barren!
This issue was given to NerdyBebop for review purposes