TCR: “Sigil” Linking together Space Opera, Pirates, and High School

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Thursday Comic Review – week of 3/09

I had high hopes for Sigil. As a fan of writer Mike Carey, I was looking forward to reading something completely new and different for him. The concept itself is interesting: young girl suddenly endowed with the ability to cross space and time, thrust into wars she doesn’t understand.

Sigil was originally a comic published by CrossGen Entertainment from 2000-2003. In 2004 the publisher filed for bankruptcy, leaving many stories unfinished, Sigil being one of their most popular ones. Marvel’s parent company, the Disney Corporation, acquired the rights to all of CrossGen’s intellectual properties.  

Speeding things ahead to the present day, Marvel decided to re-launch the Sigil title under their CrossGen line of comics. This new story will not be picking up where the plot ended back in 2003 – though it will take place in the Sigilverse (which is the CrossGen Universe). The book is in the midst of a makeover with new characters, new artists, and a new writer, Mike Carey.                         

Carey had this to say to Comic Book Resources about his excitement to work on the project: “It was really exciting to find a line of books predicated around science fiction and fantasy concepts. The interesting thing about the CrossGen line was that it didn’t involve the usual superhero iconography. It had a different way of coming at the stories and a different way of unifying the stories.” Sigil has traditionally been described as a science fiction space opera, but this new series kind of has a little bit of everything – from pirates to school bullies.

Samantha Rey is a 16 year old girl from South Carolina who is dealing with the unexpected death of her mother. Her grades are slipping. The school bully is making her life hell because Sam happens to be the object of affection of delusional bully’s crush, thus trapping her in a pointless love triangle.  

The plot is so far so … typical. Every time I come across the “school bully is my biggest problem,” I lose a little more tolerance for it. I know I just ranted about this in my review of I am Number 4, but it just seems so hackneyed! While I’m sure there are a lot of books out there focusing on teen characters in more creative ways, for some reason I keep stumbling across this same plot over and over again.  Let’s give teens a little more credit – bullies are certainly not the only problem that they could be facing. So why harp on this one plot line over and over again? Because it’s an easy sub-plot dilemma?  

A lot of the time this theme isn’t even portrayed in a realistic manner. At one point in this book Sam is attacked by the entire “possy” of the bully. She is held down while they cover her in blue paint in the middle of the school hallway. She uses her power to get away makes a break for it, hiding in the locker room. The bully and crew end up using a fire extinguisher to completely wreck through a door, trying to get at her. Not a teacher in sight. No one hears all this noise.  Apparently none of the students are having a second thought to the amount of vandalism they are doing to the school in broad daylight. And why is the bully so determined? Because her crush talks to Sam sometimes. Perhaps I went to an overly uneventful high school – but this still seems a little farfetched.

This first issue was primarily an introduction to Sam. We see her struggling and we see her powers awaken. In the last scene she time-jumps out of the school and into the late 1600s where she finds herself on a boat of pirates about to engage in a war and are looking to her for help. Except, the 16 year old, untrained, version of herself was not exactly what they were expecting. There is one man there, though, that knows her. But he knows her as her older self. He alludes to powerful, wonderful things that she has accomplished. As if that wasn’t confusing enough for poor Sam, he somehow knew her mother. Sam is trying to wrap her head around everything that is going on when suddenly the man who apparently killed her mother shows up with an army, ready for battle.

Ok, that part’s cool.

I think this comic is going to get better and better. I really do. There are a lot of interesting concepts being played with here and will certainly increasingly become the focal point of the story. The beginning, as I’ve stated, is boring in a ‘been there done that’ kind of way. To be fair, though, I understand the necessity of character-building before we get into the heavy sci-fi concepts involved in the rest of the plot. Carey (X-Men Legacy, Hellblazer) is typically a very good writer, and he has a great cohort in artist Leonard Kirk (Supergirl, Captain Britain and MI: 13). At $2.99 it’s not a wasted purchase to satiate your curiosity.

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