Rating: 4.5/5 – Find a World Outside Your Own (you might not come back!)
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
The review for Rainbow in the Dark, the collected trade edition of the popular comic created by husband/wife team Adam Withers and Comfort Love, can be summed up in two words – Pay Attention.
Pay attention, first and foremost, to the names Comfort Love and Adam Withers, because if they can continue to produce work this beautiful and engaging, you’re going to want to remember them. True, there have been other spousal duos who’ve worked together to create amazing artwork, but Love and Withers function as few others can, doing all the writing and illustration not only together, but interchangeably, trading off roles where appropriate to create a – bad pun intended – marriage of words and art that will visually stun readers who aren’t prepared for it. Flip through this book – I dare you – and tell me you aren’t impressed with the dynamic linework, striking colors and solid lettering. You’ll be lying. These two are already a force to be reckoned with. Heaven help us down the road.
Pay attention, next, to the story itself, as the idea of paying attention seems to be one of several themes running throughout it. Donna White lives in a world of blacks, whites and grays known simply as the Gloom. It is existence, but not really much of a life. One day she notices something different about her world…something that perhaps doesn’t fit in. A whole world exists outside the world of the Gloom – a world of color, intensity, and most importantly, freedom – and Donna finds she’s destined to be a part of it. It’s a dash of Pleasantville, a dollop of The Matrix, with the slightest pinch of Oz thrown in for good measure. The message is clear: there’s a world outside the one we live in – the world of routines and possessions – we have only to see it.
Pay attention, finally, to the book, and what’s going on (and being said) in each and every panel. Love and Withers grew up in the same world many of us did, and that’s revealed in the words and panels of this story. The people outside the Gloom world occasionally speak in song lyrics. You’ll find yourself catching tiny snippets of pretty much every song sung on classic rock radio in the lines each character uses, from Snow Patrol to John Lennon to The Cure. This technique is also the book’s only real (minor) weak spot, sadly, as a little of it can go a long way. All too often I found myself being pulled out of the story because I’d caught a reference to Rick Astley (twice!)…only for a moment, but enough of a moment that I wish it didn’t have to happen so often. This is such an immersive story, with such a rich, well-planned world, I don’t want to be taken out of it for even a moment. Similar tactics are used on the artistic side of things. Check the backgrounds on some of the panels and see if you don’t spot a familiar face or two. They hooked me at the beginning of chapter two when the unmistakable renderings of a certain Ms. Hall and Ms. Strangis (Electra Woman and Dyna Girl to the uninitiated) showed up in one panel. I never looked back at that point. When you tell me my favorite female crimefighting duo survived the Gloom? You have a fan for life! So don’t skim over this book. Immerse yourself in the artwork. You’ll be rewarded.
Pay attention – because books like this don’t come along very often. The story will inspire you if you ever wondered if there’s a world beyond the humdrum mundane most of us live in daily. The artwork and writing will inspire you to find new ways to tell your own stories. Love and Withers will inspire you if you’re an independent artist wondering if the label “independent” is a negative thing. This book looks better, reads better, and *is* better than a huge chunk of the books on my shelf. It’s certainly a theme you’ve heard before, but you’ve never heard it told quite like this.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
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