Comic Review: Memorial #3

Memorial #3
Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Rich Ellis
Colors by Grace Allison
Letters by Shawn Lee
Cover by Michael WM Kaluta
IDW Publishing
Release Date: February 8, 2012
Cover Price: $3.99

About four years ago my comic book store guy insisted I try a new IDW title called Locke and Key. While I enjoyed the art immensely, the story wasn’t doing much for me at that time. Today, it’s one of my favorite titles but I avoided it for years. Looking back, I can’t recall if it was because the subject matter was too dark or the characters seemed too dull, but I clung to some justification for a long time to avoid the book everyone was telling me was going great. I realize now that what actually happened was I didn’t allow the book the opportunity to build its own world.

I recently sat down with another IDW title that’s just beginning, Memorial. Chris Roberson, the writer of I, Zombie, takes on a new female lead. The story plays with the concept of memory, imagination, and forgetting. Typically, it helps me to take in the first story arc of a series like this in all at once, in something like a trade. (Which, admittedly, might make me a part of the problem in this industry where sales have to hit a certain level for a book every issue, at least early on, or it might get canceled. It’s a tough situation to be in and I don’t know what the answer to that larger problem is.) In this case, I’m only seeing a fragment of the story and here’s what I can tell you so far.

The story so far: Em is a young woman who wanders into a hospital in Portland, Oregon, with total amnesia. A year later she’s built a new life for herself, working in a bookstore. Meanwhile, in a pocket reality fantasy land, a mysterious ruler dispatches her fairy-tale themed henchmen to retrieve a key that winds up in our heroines possession. Before she knows it, she’s gone down the rabbit hole and sent on an Oz-like odyssey with a talking cat named Schrodinger as her companion through the magical world.

In Memorial #3, Em and Schrodinger find themselves at the Library of Babylon which explores the idea of future possibilities when intruders break in and violence erupts. From cover to cover things move fast for our heroes and maybe a little to fast for me. This is all pretty explicitly dedicated towards constructing an imaginary world, and not so much exploring what makes the world work and giving characters an opportunity to grow.

All I can say is that, while this world isn’t familiar to me yet, I look forward to the day it will be. Looking at this issue alone I see Roberson dropping off important exposition quickly and smoothly while introducing new characters and balancing all that with suspense that moves the story along. The colors by Grace Allison make the page spring to life like a great animated feature and Rich Ellis‘ clean-line art and smart page layouts make this a fun read. If Memorial stays on the course it’s one I could see it becoming the kind of comic book any grown-up can enjoy and would want to put in the hands of the kids in their lives.

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