"The Comet: Volume 1 – Combustion" Trade Paperback Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Insight Comics
Written by Arianna Irwin
Illustrated by Francine Delgado
Colored by Alba Cardona
Lettered by A Larger World Studios
2018, 96 Pages
Graphic novel released on October 16th, 2018
At first glance, fifteen-year-old Kenzie Cook has a pretty good life. She has a loving family, great friends, and a promising gymnastics career. Kenzie would trade it all if it meant saving her little sister, Rae, who is currently dying of cancer. Reeling from the grief and pain, Kenzie reaches out to her estranged and eccentric Aunt Emmy, who claims to be a healer who dabbles with the supernatural. This kind of help comes with a cost though, and Kenzie is about to give up her soul to save her sister.
The Comet has a fantastic premise to start with as Kenzie comes face to face with some demonic forces. It starts out as this tale of love, showing how far this young woman will go to save her only sister. This would have been really cool to explore, but The Comet takes a weird turn after the dust settles on the initial summoning spell. Instead of an epic battle between good and evil with Rae's life and Kenzie's soul hanging in the balance, it's a basic super hero tale.
See, this whole ceremony goes wrong and Kenzie ends up with super powers and even more grief. She reaches out to a college professor she finds online to help train her and then basically becomes a super hero. This twist takes all the momentum out of the story and puts it on rails as a pretty rudimentary origin tale. The super hero aspect isn't anything new. It's essentially a rehashing of some origins from the Marvel Universe, primarily the X-Men.
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This is disappointing, as The Comet starts with such promise. Writer Arianna Irwin connects us with Kenzie so quickly, showing us her life and the sorrows it contains. This isn't your typical teenage drama. Kenzie is dealing with some major life-altering events here. How she deals with these things could make or break her as a person.
The supernatural elements of The Comet are so very creepy too. It's a shame that they're basically left behind after they're introduced. Artist Francine Delgado and colorist Alba Cardona explore a dark and frightening side of this world. When the ceremony gets going, there are swirls of blood-red energy and hellfire. This is some Lovecraftian style terror and a little girl's life is at stake.
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This debut graphic novel culminates in a rushed battle with a monster that comes out of nowhere. It's demonic and definitely tied to the ceremony that started this whole mess, but the fight is practically over before it starts. It seems like it was abbreviated to fit within the remaining pages of the book. This is a bummer because it's a pretty awesome looking creature with roughly shaped, dark word balloons, implying a guttural voice that comes from the bowels of Hell.
The Comet starts with a great premise and a lot of possibilities, then turns into a basic super hero story. Many of the plot points seem to pop up way too conveniently, like they're just there to move everything along. The college professor is a perfect example of this. Kenzie casually sees a headline on a newspaper as she's packing her things and decides to go across the country to meet this guy and convince him to help her. This extends to the other characters and the development of Kenzie's abilities too. There's still some potential in this book, but this first volume stumbles a bit.