Spiral is a four issue crime saga set in London, focusing on how two people from different sides of the law cope with their family legacies. It is written by Magnus Aspli, with art and colours by Emerson Dimaya. In the debut issue, we are introduced to a world where a known vigilante crime fighter has disappeared. The police presume he’s dead, and in his absence the criminals of London feel free to operate without any fear.
The story revolves around Olivia Malloy, a detective eager to earn her keep on the streets of London. She sees the disappearance of the masked vigilante as a blessing, as she can finally prove her worth on the job. Her partner Frida disagrees, and would happily allow others to carry the burden of keeping the citizens of London safe.
Olivia isn’t the only person in London looking to prove themselves. Michael Warden is the son of notorious crime lord Terry Warden, and is hoping to finally step out of his father’s shadow. He is determined to prove to his father and the rest of the criminal underworld in London that he is a worthy successor of the family legacy.
At this stage, it gets a bit tricky to discuss plot specifics without spoiling things. Suffice it to say, things don’t go exactly as neither Michael nor Olivia had hoped, and we see the consequences of their rash decision making throughout the issue. We are also privy to a great deal of family drama with Olivia and her father. We also learn a great deal about her disdain of her ex-husband’s treatment of their son.
While the idea of looking at cross-generational shifts for two families on opposites sides of the law is great, writer Magnus Aspli clutters the narrative with an abundance of exposition. There’s a lot of story threads that get introduced in a short amount of time, making the issue feel a bit underdeveloped. On top of that, there’s well over 15 characters introduced within this 30 page story, all of which have some part to play in the way the narrative unfolds. It simply gets a bit much too keep track of, especially since the comic switches quite rapidly between scenes, rarely allowing the events to breathe a bit before moving on.
The art by Emerson Dimaya is strong throughout, and the decision to colour different pages with various hues is quite clever. It adds an emotional overtone to the scenes, and contribute to the feel of the comic. While there’s nothing that really stand out as particularly memorable, what’s there is well handled.
Overall, Spiral #1 approaches a well-known genre from a fresh angle. Focusing on how two families on opposite sides of the law are handling a generational shift is an interesting take, and the issue attempts to build a legacy that stretches far beyond the events of this single issue. While the writing feels cluttered at times, and leans far too heavily on exposition to progress its story, the art manages to balance the reader’s impression of the comic well. It’ll be interesting to see where the second issue in this series takes things, but hopefully it slows down a bit, allowing its countless story threads to develop further in subsequent issues.
Spiral #1 earns a promising 6 out 10.
If you’re interested in checking out this comic, you can buy it for as little as 1 dollar on Kickstarter by clicking here.