Madefire’s The Engine, written by Guy Adams and drawn by Jimmy Broxton, tells the story of a Soviet era gulag’s shady prisoners during a mine collapse.
Conceived by Liam Sharp and his wife Christina McCormack, the set-up involves the last-of-its-kind worker robot known as The Engine and a group of former criminals and political prisoners stuck in a salt mine when an earthquake strikes. At each other’s throats prior to the collapse, the tension deepens as each person begins plotting their own survival.
To this point, Adams has taken a slow build towards developing the story by using the first few episodes to develop characters like former thief Grigory Kasputin and an explosives expert named Vasily Berezin. While it’s heavily implied that at some point The Engine will appear to do something unexpected, Adams seems content to let Jimmy Broxton’s fantastic artwork set the mood.
Broxton is using Madefire’s motion book tool to great effect by having the art panels move with a cinematic grace throughout this story. His work is especially good when each character goes into flashback territory. Often times in traditional print, flashbacks can be jarring and upset the flow of the story.
Adams and Broxton use the new storytelling elements available to use a lot of storytelling devices better than in traditional print. At the same time, readers new to this storytelling platform have been conditioned by the typical pacing and plot elements of traditional print to get to the point of the story a bit quicker.
With the amount of space between current episodes of Madefire stories and Adams’ deliberate pace for The Engine, it would be nice to see the story a bit further on in the plot, but patience is a virtue when it comes to good storytelling.
Perhaps Adams is taking a cue from the Russian literary school by spending more time on the exposition and set-up for the story with his careful character portraits and relation to the pending action that is due. Ultimately, this careful attention to detail has its own reward by offering multi-dimensional takes on typically two-dimensional tropes.
Overall, The Engine has the feel of something artisanal or hand-crafted with the care put into the thoughtful storytelling, exquisite art, and immersion experience of color and sound. Like a fine wine or beer, this story should be savored by the drop rather than be drank in heady gulps.
Right now, you can only read Madefire comics on Apple products like the iPad or iPhone. Luckily, they are free to read, so it’s recommended that you beg, borrow, or steal an Apple product to see what the next wave in comic storytelling looks like.
Check in tomorrow as Comic Booked looks at Liam Sharp’s Captain Stone is Missing…