Gravel #0-1 by Warren Ellis

March 8th, 2008 by

Gravel #1 - wrap I read Gravel #0 and Gravel #1 just now, without any prior knowledge of the character or universe. Each issue gives you a complete story, while still tying in with a larger story arc about “The Sigsand Manuscript”. The tone of these comics is dark, featuring regular killings and gore, so if that’s the kind of thing you actively dislike, stay away, but otherwise the story seems to be fairly well written and compelling.

What I didn’t know, until I read through Issue #1 and found an ad at the back, was that Ellis has written about William Gravel before! Apparently the character was created for Strange Kiss, a three issue b&w miniseries that went on to inspire another three issue b&w series called Stranger Kisses. I am now tempted to find copies of these to read (hopefully from the library).

Gravel #0The character William Gravel is a “battle mage”, which, aside from making it sound like Ellis made up him up while playing D&D, actually makes for a pretty interesting premise. He’s basically in some special arm of the British armed forces, one that has no qualms whatsoever assassinating terrorists in Issue #0. Gravel does this in the first few pages without being seen, and then we get to the beginning of the real plot which loosely revolves around the “rediscovery” of the aforementioned Sigsand Manuscript.

The Avatar Press website page about the new Gravel series invites you to google for “The Sigsand Manuscript”, Thomas Carnacki and William Hope Hodgson. A good summary can be found over at the wikipedia page on Carnacki, who was author Hodgson’s creation. It’s all sounds very Lovecraftian, and maybe (since I finally read The Call of Cthulhu last month) this is the year for that. I’m tempted to also find a copy of Carnacki the Ghost-Finder when I make that trip to the library.

3 Responses to “Gravel #0-1 by Warren Ellis”

  1. Hannah Says:

    (Just stumbled over here from Metroblogging… love the site!)

    I’m curious what you’ll think of Strange Kisses; I read it when it came out (and the follow-up, Stranger Kisses), and actually, it didn’t do anything for me. I’m a BIG Ellis fan since Transmet, but it just seemed full of shock value with little story.

    Now, that’s just me… but I haven’t picked up a couple of his other works because they looked like they were in the same vein.

    Anyway, that’s the long way of me tellin’ you, I may pick Gravel up if you think it’s a bit different from Strange Kisses. Otherwise, I’ll likely skip it.

  2. Martin Says:

    Hey Hannah, glad you like the site!

    I have yet to read Strange Kisses or Stranger Kisses, so I can’t really answer your question, but gravel did seem like it could have more to it than shock value. I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve read a few more in the series. I’ve got issue #2 in the stack here, waiting to be read and reviewed, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long for another opinion.

    It does seem like Ellis has two sides to him… he’s got some really gnarly stuff, dense and hard to get into. I think all of his stuff has a bit of the old shock ’em to wake ’em up in it, but yeah, it’s never enough when it feels like that’s all something has going for it. (Truth be told, that’s sort of how I felt about his novel, Crooked Little Vein.)

  3. Hannah Says:

    … heh, I’ve yet to read the book, for that exact reason. ; )