Thursday, March 4, 2010

Trade Waiting - Air Vol 1, Letters From Lost Countries

As I previously mentioned, Air is a Vertigo series that I tried out since it had a $10 introductory volume. I had previously read Cairo by the same creative team, but, while I was unimpressed by the work, I was definitely open to reading more from them.

Although I wasn't entirely sure what Air was actually about, I had been hearing some positive buzz about the series, which was enough to get me to check it out. Hit the jump for my review and to see what I thought about Air Vol 1, Letters From Lost Countries.

Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by M.K. Perker
Collects Air #1-5

Air stars Blythe, a flight attendant with acrophobia, an irrational and extreme fear of heights, who gets dragged into a strange and fantastic adventure one day while just doing her routine duties. That's what I love most about Air though, the strange and fantastic. The series is very imaginative when you get right down to it, which I love, but what made it really work for me was the slow build up that Wilson took with the story. Based on what happened in the first issue, you could have easily believed the series was a plain conspiracy thriller, but, with each issue, more and more strange things continue to happen until Wilson unveils the core concept of the series, which is just wonderful.

Although Air ends up being something very enjoyable to me, it does have a some problems. Given that Blythe is a flight attendant and the general conspiracy story nature of the first issue, terrorism is an obvious subject the title would use. Now, Wilson does make good use of it and it works organically as part of the story but it seems so...dated. Not sure why it feels that way to me but it did take me out of the story since it did feel, not out of place, but off to me. A problem with the story that popped up from time to time was that the plot seemed to jump from one point to the next without being fully fleshed out. The plot progression is logical but it seems rushed in order to move the story forward for no real reason. Again, since the progression does make sense, it doesn't ruin anything but it is a problem none the less.

So, what about the story itself? Very good actually. Wilson does a very good job of taking it from what looks like a generic conspiracy thriller into something very different. As already mentioned, Wilson does this in a very methodical manner and slowly unravels the main mystery of the story. The plot is perfectly paced and unfolds in an enjoyable manner. Most of the issues manage to stand on their own while moving the overall plot forward. This makes each chapter, basically, satisfying in it's own right which is not something I usually notice in most comics. This is not to say that this not not true with other comics but I did notice it with Air more than most. I think my favorite part of the story would be the final page of the collection. I just smiled when I read it since it works perfectly given the concept of the series.

The characters are also very enjoyable. Blythe works well as a main protagonist and works well with the cast of supporting characters, who are interesting in their own right. The supporting characters are very eccentric, which is why they work very well with Blythe, who is more of a straight man type of character. This sets up some interesting dynamics among the cast. Wilson also does a good job of fleshing out Blythe. She isn't the world's greatest character but she does have some nice personality quirks and it is easy to relate to her and understand where she is coming from as the story progresses.

Perker's art is very enjoyable as well. There is a nice, subtle angularness to it at times that I like. His line work is also very good and helps to add some distinctiveness to the art as well. He also makes some wonderful use of hatching, which is something that I honestly can't think of anything any other artist using. I'm sure there are some but Perker's use of it just stands out to me. His art has a lot of wonderful detail to it, which is evident in the designs he comes up with for the more fantastical aspects of the series.

Verdict - Buy It. Despite some missteps, Air still has an interesting and intriguing core that has me wanting to check out the next volume.

Interested in Air Vol. 1: Letters from Lost Countries? Buy it on and help support the Weekly Crisis!

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Matthew said...

Aha, I had wondered about picking this one up myself. Thanks for the informative review, Eric.

Matt Ampersand said...

A really interesting opening arc, but I stopped reading it, but it didn't completely click with me for some reason. I enjoyed it, but... I guess I can't really explain it.

Are you going to check further trades? I'd like to hear if you like them or not.

Eric Rupe said...

Matthew - Glad you enjoyed the review.

Matt - I plan on picking them up at some point, I just don't know when that is going to be though.

kukuweaq said...

I love Air! I agree with all of the problems you have stated. It doesn't really ever feel less rushed. I think that first volume could have been spaced out amongst the first 12 issues or something and told a richer story. That seems like a trend. I attributed it (without any knowledge of these facts) to maybe being a rush to get the story out quicker and get people interested faster so the book wouldn't be canceled.

I think the story gets much more fun and interesting. I love Blythe and all the characters, but the pacing will always seem a little rushed (sometimes to the book's benefit).

Matt Ampersand said...

Man, I just re-read my previous comment and it sounded like I have brain damage. I used the word "but" like three times in the same sentence.

brandon said...


but does it matter? ;)

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