Review: Aspen Universe – Decimation #1

Over time, I have grown to like some of the Aspen books.  Lola XoXo is a fun read, with the focus on Siya Oum’s stylised painted art and the recent Fathom books from Blake Northcott have been good solid fun, with a few pokes at social media thrown in for good measure.  Building on the successes, Aspen MLT has started to coalesce their universe, and now that the time for Revelations is over; the time for Decimation has begun!

Simply put, Orlana the Death Princess has used her powerful mind control powers to snare a group of women, one of which has used a frozen mind tap to take out the powerful Aspen Matthews and kidnapped Las Vegas magician Hank Medley along with his talking cat Sparkles.  The group have then utilized his power to teleport into the future to release the prized prisoner Jayden from her captor, Rainier.  If this all makes sense to you, then well done.  If not, then like me it seems you will have to pick up the Revelations series or play catch-up.

Vince Hernandez seems not to care if you are up to speed or not.  Instead he ploughs ahead with the story that he wants to tell.  There is something to be said about a writer who is brave enough to go full-bore.  Here Hernandez is helped by a “previously on….” page which goes some way to explain things and of course with Hank you are always going to have a character that needs something explaining.  Hernandez wastes no times in lining up the hits once Jayden joins the party.  The girls feel connected, yet have no idea how or why.  Orlana has a plan for them and it will interesting to see how things progress with the risk of the girls become so close they actually form a team of sorts.  I am a little disappointed to see that Aspen Matthews is so easily taken out of the story.  I understand that this needs to happen; Aspen is powerful enough to throw the waterworks into Orlana’s plan.  Still she is not the only threat to Death Princess as Sudana bears witness to the return of a certain assistant to Orlana’s grand scheme.

I loved the recent Fathom book.  Blake Northcott’s writing was great and the art by Marco Renna had clean lines and the idea that Amanda Conner was an inspiration.  In this book however, the art takes even more of a cartoony stance.  It’s not bad, just different from the maturity of the work previously seen on Fathom.  This may have more to do with the story that you may think.  You see, the book features attractive women in various outfits of almost undress; from the Blue warrior Terza, the PVC wearing  Terra and the “using Raven as a reference” Orlana herself.  I have no problem with how the women are portrayed in this book, or their clothes for that matter.  Others however, may only see the flesh and automatically deem the book to be nothing more than half-naked women.  By giving the book the aforementioned cartoon look, the characters become less sexualized, at least in my opinion.  That said, I think I still prefer the more refined art in Fathom.  Renna is joined on digi-inks by Mark Roslan who works well in partnership for the most part.  There are a couple of pages, 9 and 10, that seems weaker than the rest of the book, with a less polished feel.  The colors are provided in tag team style by Federico Blee and John Starr, which may hep explain the oddness of pages I just mentioned.

The quality regarding the production values of the books from Aspen has never been in question.  With a diverse stable of characters and time zones, they demonstrate enough diversity to have a book that should appeal to a range of comic fans.  With all that in mind, I am not sure they really need to gel the universe together in such a formal act.  But hey, an event is something that every publisher tries.  With  Hernandez and Renna putting their respective pens and pencils to paper, Aspen may well succeed in bringing in new readers to their books. The trick will be to keep them!

Writing – 4 Stars
Art – 4 Stars
Colors – 4 Stars

Written by; Vince Hernandez
Art by; Marco Renna and Mark Roslan
Colors by; Federico Blee and John Starr
Published by; Aspen MLT


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