"Soul Stealer: Book One - The Beaten and the Damned" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Blackwatch Comics
Written by Michael Easton
Illustrated by Christopher Shy
2008, 148 Pages
Graphic Novel released on June 1st, 2008
When you love someone, you'll usually go out of your way to help them. Nowadays it's basic stuff like helping them move or giving them a ride to the airport. When it comes to Kalan though, the lengths are far greater. His wife Oxania was killed years ago by a monster from hell called Apis. Having died himself, Kalan was put together like Humpty Dumpty had all the king's horses and all the king's men been halfway competent. Now resembling Frakenstein's monster, Kalan now searches through the lands of the living and the dead as well as the past, present, and future for his lost love in The Beaten and the Damned, the first book of Soul Stealer.
Kalan's story spans centuries. He exists back in what looks like the Middle Ages where he fights valiantly against the forces of evil, but he also shows up in the present, aiding others who have lost loved ones.
Soul Stealer is a pretty deep book. It's unlike any comic you're going to pick up at your local shop. There are elements of Egyptian mythology and Christian beliefs intertwined with a supernatural twist. I would be lying if I said that there weren't a few segments that went over my head. Author Michael Easton uses his words sparingly, almost like a poem weaved through the book's pages. He lets the art from Christopher Shy do most of the talking. This isn't always successful though.
Shy's artwork can be beautiful. The scenes on the battlefield from the past look like something you'd expect to see framed in a museum. They are gorgeous paintings that you wouldn't expect to find in a comic book. Many of the images appear to be painted over photographs. This is a tricky style that few artists can get right. It can come off looking really cool (Grey) or it can look like the artist is just trying to cut corners (It Came from Beneath the Sea...Again). Shy is definitely not skimping on the quality here, however his style works better in the panels without much motion. Scenes where there's a lot of action or movement become hazy and it's difficult to tell exactly what's going on.
The Beaten and the Damned is the first volume of the Soul Stealer trilogy. It sets up the basics with Kalen searching for a way to return Oxania to the land of the living. It's clear that this is no easy task, but he's up to the challenge and willing to do anything to bring his love back. If that means fighting the demons of hell and wandering the earth for centuries, then so be it.