Indie Comic Review – Vessels #1

By: Dominic Kelly

20th July 2016

Written by Dave Cook
Art by Rafael Desquitado Jr.
Colours by Dennis Lehmann
Letters by Garret Gun
Published by Card Shark Comics

It should come as no surprise that I am drawn to projects that are similar to From Software’s Souls series.

A series that I have immense love and respect for, I have played the game multiple times over my life. I mean hell, I did a retrospective on the series for this very site, I love it that much. So when I’m presented with a project in a similar vein to the series, I’m always quick to jump in. Some of these projects have turned out to be good. Others have turned out to be…well, not great. Despite this though, I am always filled with excitement when someone describes their project as Souls like. So you can imagine my excitement when at the recent Glasgow Comic Con, I was presented with a book that fit this very criteria. Naturally, I was invested in the idea from the get go.

Vessels-comic-cover-dave-cookWhat’s more, it was done by the creator of the book Bust, another project that I gushed about on this site before. So with that firmly in my mind, I dove right into Vessels to see if it lived up to the expectations I had put on it.

In Vessels we are transported to the arid and dying land of Cairnthala. Once a vibrant a beautiful world, the land has seen a great blight delivered upon it by an entity known as The Eye-God. With entire kingdoms falling to its baleful gaze, the people of the land are without hope, sacrificing people to it in a futile attempt to appease it. From the ashes of this ruin though, a hero of legend emerges. Named Wake, this hero shares a strange and unusual bond with The Eye God, one the people hope will lead to the destruction of this Dark God. Accompanied by a band of brave souls, Wake sets out on a pilgrimage to see the Eye God once and for all. But dark creatures walk the same path, and the world around our hero may not be all it seems.

Now I’ve talked about Dave Cook’s writing on this site before. As I mentioned, I thought his writing on the comic Bust was enjoyable, and offered some fun action. But with Vessels, Cook knocks it out of the park. Effortlessly engrossing, Cook’s writing creates a world and story that is sullen and forsaken. You feel the weight of the force placed upon the characters, and you feel the dread all around as a result. Characters are also engaging, and through Cook’s work, we easily become invested in them. Wake is a thoroughly engaging lead character, and one whose mystery you can’t help but become captivated by. The work is top notch, and Cook proves himself a deft hand at creating a story that will draw readers in and keep them absorbed.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stellar work of the art team as well. Comprised of Rafael Desquitado Jr,  Dennis Lehmann and Garret Gun, the art of Vessels compliments the story perfectly. Oppressive and harsh, the art of this first issue brings the world of Cairnthala to life. Desquitado Jr’s pencils create a world that feels lived in and old. His work on character design is also incredibly strong, offering some grotesque and strange characters and creatures later on. The colours of Dennis Lehmann also shine in this book, offering an atmosphere and depth that elevate the book, and gels together with Desquitado’s pencils perfectly. Topped off with Garret Gun’s excellent lettering work and you have a book that looks as great as it reads.

At the end of it all, Vessel is masterful in its execution. Replete with character and atmosphere, the book soars, and is more than worthy of your time and is the closest project to the Souls series I have seen in a while. Cook’s writing is consistently excellent once again, creating a compelling and engaging story full of interesting characters and intriguing mysteries. Coupled with the stellar work of the books art team, you have a book that is definitive reading. So if you like your fantasy stories full of darkness and intrigue, then Vessels is sure to be right up your alley.

Vessels is available through Comichaus, and Card Shark Comic’s Online store. Though I’m sure if you ask nicely, Geek Retreat will order a copy for you.