Comic Review: The Hollows #2

The Hollows #2
Written by Chris Ryall
Art by Sam Keith
Letters by Robbie Robbins
Created by Sam Keith & Chris Ryall
IDW Publishing
Release Date: January 9, 2013
Cover Price: $3.99

Sometime in the future, the Earth has become a radioactive wasteland filled with soul-sucking zombies known as Hollows. In response, a privileged set of humans developed supertrees that can house entire cities in the clean, relative safety. The remaining humans? Well, they’re just shit out of luck and out on their own against the Hollows.

Craig Mayerik, a pony-tailed inventor, created a set of wings and crashed them while touring the radioactive ground scouring for supplies. He was rescued from certain death by a group of poor survivors. In the refuge, Craig befriends Lani and learned of the group’s meager existence. He realized that swooping down from the safety of his supertree and scavenging for supplies is practically the same as stealing supplies from the hands of desperate, surviving humans on the ground.

At the end of Hollows #1, the surviving clan begs Craig for his help. But he decides to look after his family first and leaves them to fend for themselves. This decision scarred Craig. He vows to return and develops a weapon that improves their ability to fend off the hordes of Hollows; he makes a return trip only to find even more difficulties than before.

Sam Keith and Chris Ryall combine their talents to bring us a different breed of zombie story. Maybe the Tokyo setting biased my viewpoint, but the story has a whimsical, Hayao Miyazaki film tone that’s markedly different from the gritty, post-apocalyptic stories that clutter the genre. The setting is still desolate; it’s still grimy in certain parts, but there’s a sense of hope lurking in the backdrop.

For the most part, Chris Ryall takes his time revealing information about the Hollows. All we know at this point is that Hollows exist, they’re nasty, and they probably outnumber the remaining humans. But we still do not know where they came from or why they exist. I’m not even quite sure about the mechanics of soul-sucking or even if that knowledge is necessary to enjoy the story. However, I’m faithful, given the pacing of the story and the proven abilities of the creators, that this will all be unveiled as needed.

The highlight of The Hollows is undoubtedly the art. Sam Keith’s style enriches the quirky feel of the story with his colored pencil textures and faded, yet diverse color palette. The lines are beautifully simple, but expressive enough emphasize the subtle characteristics of the story. Simply put: I LOVE THE ART. My only complaint is the use of labels in several instances to point out vital features in comic panels. Yes, the labeling enhances the quirky, storytelling presentation of the comic, but it also forms an unnecessary wall between the story and the reader. The good news is that the use of labels occurred less frequently in this issue than in the first.

The Hollows is shaping up to be an epic conflict between Craig’s need to help his family and his desire to aid the poor survivors that were not selected for the supertrees. His efforts to balance both motives only cause him to fail miserably at both. He must make a choice and I’m eager to see which direction this character takes.

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