Writer Bryan Hill and artist Priscilla Petraites have crafted an intense, thrilling ride with the first issue of Chariot, a comic dripping in synthwave atmosphere. From the neon pinks evident in the colours to the design of the eponymous supercar itself, the 80s VHS action movie influences are clear to see.
The opening sequence drops us right into the action; a brilliantly rendered, dialogue free car chase scene that gives us a great idea of just what the souped up automobile is capable of. From there, we’re introduced to our present day protagonist, desperate ex-con Jim – who’s about to get himself in serious trouble in order to help someone very close to him – and he looks set to cross paths with the long dormant supercar…
As a first issue, it’s a great introduction and setup, with a cliffhanger that’ll leave readers immediately hungry for the next chapter. Bryan Hill’s writing is on point and – importantly – he knows when to let the art speak for itself. Which it does beautifully – Priscilla Petraites giving the comic its chrome-and-neon sheen, along with an R-rated level of carnage and violence; recalling fondly remembered viewings of direct-to-video action movies, rented from the local video store and watched at a far too young age. Good times.
The cover (by Jeff Dekal) is another excellent example of the sheer style on display – it certainly wouldn’t look out of place in the window of a VHS rental store, or on a teen’s wall in the 80s (or now, in fact, with synthwave tropes and stylings being so in vogue). Just like synthwave, the comic has one foot in a gleaming, idealised 80s and another in the future. Like the musical genre itself, it’s an intoxicating blend that was definitely an aim of the creators – with Petraites divulging via Twitter that she created a Spotify playlist to listen to while drawing (which she kindly shared the link to – you can find the playlist here).
AWA Studios/Upshot really do seem to be going from strength to strength, showing a knack for publishing interesting, more leftfield material from well established, higher profile names – as well as titles like Chariot, from lesser known but very talented creators. As for where Chariot heads next, who knows? One thing’s for certain though: it’s already shaping up to be a very entertaining ride.
Chariot releases on the 3rd of March 2021. Many thanks to AWA Studios for providing me with a copy of Chariot for review purposes.
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