by Sam Kusek
I’ve never been one for collaborative comic books. While I understand and appreciate the idea of allowing different artists to breathe their own unique life into these characters, I always found the individual chapters to be very disorienting, leaving me feeling unsure about what I had just read. I had always recently felt this way until I picked up Spera volume one and was completely blown away.
Written, created and edited by Josh Tierney, Spera is a collaborative effort between artists from around the world, illustrated and told in four consecutive sections that follow one main story arc, with another section attached at the end that include six short tales. The book does an excellent job at providing us with enough of the main story to keep us interested and on our feet about what is going to happen next but also helps build the identities of the characters in the small extra stories attached at the end. The balance is very well established between the two sections of the book and when read in correct sequential order, it really defines the reasons why you’ll want to keep reading this series.
Spera follows the story of two princesses, the sheltered, quiet Lono and the boisterous, adventurous Pira, and their fire spirit Yonder, as they escape from their kingdoms, as war is rising. These two characters work extremely well together because they are essentially two sides of the same coin. Pira has always been trying to break free from her mother’s control and go off on her own, never experiencing the safety and love that Lono has known with her family. Lono on the other hand, has only seen the world through pages of a book and feels inexperienced in life. The great thing about these two characters is that their friendship and interactions with each other really allows them to draw from the other and become very complex characters. That is the real beauty of the book; these two opposites attracting.
Artistically, Spera is certainly a book that caters to everyone’s tastes, as it provides a mix of very finely detailed and beautifully colored chapters, that border more on fine art, with simple and strong cartoon styles. You have to credit Josh Tierney for planning the structure of this book, as each individual style works incredibly well with the tone of its associated story. For example, Luke Pearson’s tale “Azutzotl” takes the three main characters out of their element, by not only providing some fantastic role reversal between Pira and Lono but by focusing more heavily on exaggerated character traits in a more cartoonish fashion than we had previously seen. This short in particular was my favorite and I thought brought a nice breath of fresh air to the book.
All in all, this is probably one of the best books that I have read so far, during my time here at Spandexless and I would highly recommend picking it up.
TL:DR Spera is a collaboration between artists that weaves the tale of two princesses looking to step outside of their boundaries and forge their own path in the world. It’s a fantastic look at the wide range of talented artists working in the field today and is a breath of fresh air in the fantasy genre.
Spera is written by Josh Tierney with art by Kyla Vanderklugt, Hwei, Emily Carroll, Olivier Pichard and Afu Chan, and also includes short comics by Jordyn F. Bochon, Cécile Brun, Luke Pearson, Leela Wagner and Matt Marblo. It is published by Archaia Entertainment.You can ask for it at your local comic book shop or, support Spandexless by purchasing it from our Amazon web store.
A review copy of Spera was graciously provided to Spandexless by the publisher.
Samuel “Self Confidence Skeleton” “Big Ol’ Robot” Kusek has always been an advocate for the comic book format and specifically a big fan of Manga. He previously wrote for Popcultureshock’s Manga Recon, is an aspiring cartoonist himself and enjoys a good bowtie. You can find his tweets at @SamKusek.