Thaniel is an upcoming series from OSSM Comics, written by Omar Spahi and with art by Terry Huddleston. Thaniel isn't content to let the title character's violent actions go unquestioned. Both issues touch upon the lines Thaniel crosses in the name of good and whether it can be said he's still fighting for that side after what he's done. Can you make the world a better place by killing all the “bad guys?” Do two wrongs make a right? Can that straightforward thinking continue when someone who has crossed the line is someone you know personally and identify beyond their crime? It's a fascinating exploration of morality and how we perceive death.
Thaniel is a gorgeous book that has a cinematic, noir approach to its art. Huddleston makes the most of the stylized aspects of its grayscale tone, using silhouettes, color inversions, and splashes of primary colors for dramatic effect. This series doesn't stick to the same tricks but varies its techniques from scene to scene. Whether Thaniel is fighting or having a flashback, Huddleston's art has a way of sucking me into the panels. While Thaniel's primary opponents seem to me more mortals, less supernatural beasties, the action is kept fresh with every scenario through the use of creative scenarios and Huddleston's depiction of the action.
The first two issues of Thaniel make an interesting decision you don't see a lot of comics making. Thaniel's origin story, or at least part of it, isn't covered until Issue #2. Instead, Issue #1 jumps straight into the action, featuring numerous fights and establishing more of who Thaniel is in the present and what he does rather than why he does it. It's an invigorating change of pace for the comics medium. I found myself immediately drawn in and on board with Thaniel's quest in spite of his questionable actions. More than anything, I wanted to know more about his life. The first issue teased just enough to make me ask all the right questions and then started delivering by the second issue. It's a bit like a cold open, and this more cinematic approach worked beautifully in this series.
Issue #2 delivers on Thaniel's origin while moving the present-day plot forward. Backing up and seeing who Thaniel is prior to acquiring his powers does a lot to answer the “why” regarding what he does. In Issue #1 it's hard to get a read on the characters, with its larger focus on action and the supporting cast's limited involvement, but that all changes in the second issue. Not only is Thaniel more fleshed out, but some of the nature of his powers are revealed. While Thaniel's present-day hunt for the drug lord “Triangle” (It is an unfortunate street handle.) provides the beautiful action scenes, it's the mystery Spahi has set up around Thaniel's abilities and his parentage that has me truly hooked.
Thaniel #1 is set to release on April 9th with Issue #2 to release on April 23rd. For more information on the series or to learn how to order the issues, visit www.sonofthereaper.com.
Five Skull and Scythe Hoodies out of Five