When we were at the Stumptown Comic Fest, we stopped off at Steve Lieber’s booth to chat for a bit about the upcoming Whiteout movie. While it was clear that he was excited about it, he was also quick to point out that he had very limited involvement in the movie. The conversation kind of stalled from there.
He had a nice selection of art available for perusal, and we spent quite some time flipping through it. Thor pointed out that the work on the Batman titles was nice, but the work from his independent projects was much more detailed. The characters had a life to them that did not always come through in the other books.
We then asked what he had worked on recently, as nothing in the art stack was very recent and his booth was almost entirely devoted to Whiteout. Steve just gave us a little smile and fished a portfolio from beneath the table. He gave a little look around then said this was a secret project he was working on. He wouldn’t give many details, other than it was written by Jeff Parker, and he was hoping to have an announcement in time for San Diego. That was all he could say.
Then he opened the portfolio and sat back.
In the portfolio was the original art for Underground, a five issue series that took action and intrigue and put it deep under ground. The effect was astonishing. The blacks of the cave give a kind of claustrophobia to the piece that adds to the tension and drama. While the first issue takes place both above and below ground, subsequent issues spend more time underground as the word closes in.
What I enjoyed about the art work we saw (which was completely without word balloons) was the clarity of the storytelling. Lieber’s art told the story well. Emotions were plainly written on people’s faces, and relationships between characters were apparent.
The biggest difference between the images that we saw and what is being released this summer is the addition of color. Ron Chan has added to the story by bathing the outside world in rich, vibrant colors and left the cave in deep shadows. It is a startling effect. You can see from this panel, the rich color shown in the outside world contrasting with the monochromatic underground.
Now that we have read the first issue with Parker’s script, the nuances of the story come to light. It is a slow burn early on, that leads to an explosive finish that has the reader begging for the next issue. Underground strikes a delicate balance between plot and character development that immerses the reader into the town of Marion. Parker does a great job explaining the motivations behind each character in one scene, allowing rest of the book to breathe and progress the story. We here at stumptowntrade are really excited for this book release from Image September 23.
UNDERGROUND #1 (of 5)
Story JEFF PARKER. Art STEVE LIEBER. Color RON CHAN.
32 PAGES / FC $3.50
Diamond Gem of the Month. Solicited in the July Previews, page 132.
Diamond order code – JUL090341 D UNDERGROUND #1 (OF 5)
In stores September 23rd, 2009.