Small Press Sunday is one of our big spotlights for small press publishers. Every week we review a book, series, or company and do what we can to promote our friends in the small press comic book industry. This week we cover a new book from Charlie Gillespie that is recently available on ComiXology, The Many Volume One: Once Upon a Time in Utopia.
So, what’s the story for this first book in the series? In part one, The Fly, there are four British friends who have been captured by the Turkish forces and separated. Two of them, Dave and Jack, are reunited at the beginning and are rescued by US forces and taken as prisoners. They are worried about their other two friends, Tommy and The Big Man. The military carts them off as they have all been ordered to evacuate the area.
Tommy, a leather jacket wearing dude named Thomas Darker, is down in a well with an old man who mutters in some unintelligible language. He has been there enough time be very hungry and, while digging through the dirt looking for bugs to eat, Tommy comes across a tab of LSD. Things can’t get any worse, so he takes it. While the tab kicks in, the Air Force is heading for their location with some nasty payloads to drop on their heads.
No worries, since the drugs have opened Tommy’s mind and he can now understand the crazy man who wants nothing more than for Tommy to free him by eating him and taking power from that. After all, They are calling them all home. Who are they? Can’t tell, that would be spoiling. Suffice it to say that Tommy finds the Big Man, after eating the old man’s heart and floating out of the pit on a cloud of flies. Carrying him out of the hut, they are just in time to see the bombs dropping towards them and Tommy, drawing on the strange magic that he now possesses, turns the bombs, planes, and soldiers into flies.
Some story, huh? Well, this is just the first 20 or so pages of a 120+ page story that is a very dark and gritty political thriller with some weird magical stuff thrown in. This is really a story about the failure of the governmental systems of our world and how it may take a fist instead of an open hand to really set things right. A very dark and demonic story with a lot of pagan symbolism and such. Even The Pentagon is the home to the Circle, a group of beings with a sinister plan including all sorts of evil. Of course, Thomas Darker is no saint in all this, eating hearts to draw power and positioning himself to take a place in the government to enact the change he thinks is needed. There is a lot to this story and it really takes a solid reading or two to get the full gist.
Charlie Gillespie weaves a world of dark acts and darker reactions. The artwork is very good, very fitting, and I like the shading and coloring throughout. I would recommend this if you like things like Sandman, Fables, Hellboy, or Hellraiser. This story is very reminiscent of some of the things that I have read from Clive Barker and even has a Lovcratian or Poe-ish bent to it. And you can’t go wrong with a resurrected Karl Marx. Very good horror fantasy sci-fi. Definitely, you should check out this first volume on ComiXology and be on the looking for Volume Two, Appetite for Destruction, coming soon.