Graphic Novel Review: Babble

Cameron Hatheway writes;

Communication is the key to any successful relationship. Or at least I think that’s what my girlfriend is always trying to tell me. Ironically, it’s the lack of communication that leads a group of language researchers to a series of unfortunate events that may end mankind as we know it. Intrigued? Read on.

Regular readers of Bleeding Cool are aware that Babble has been a labor of love between Robson and Coyle for many years now, as it finally debuts in both print and digital next month. With Com.X being home to titles such as CLA$$WAR, Forty-Five, and Seeds, it’s definitely a publisher to trust with good storytelling and beautiful art. After reading Babble, it’s safe to say that it definitely fits with the publisher’s track record of publishing unique, innovative and highly-acclaimed graphic novels.

Babble revolves around Carrie Hartnoll, a girl who needs a big change in her everyday mundane life as a translator. After a chance encounter with her old professor/lover Alan Curtis, her life suddenly becomes quite busy and almost majestical as she flies-off to Ivy League America to work for the research group her professor has put together. The goal of the group is to discover the forgotten universal language of Babel – a language anyone can understand, and they were quite close to putting something together until the project’s previous team leader committed suicide under mysterious circumstances, taking his life’s work with him. Using only his old journals to try and decode his secrets, Carrie discovers amongst the drama and love triangles that the previous professor was much closer to deciphering the language of Babel than any of them had previously thought, and perhaps what he had discovered is what prompted him to end it all. To try and save not only himself, but also humanity.

Now when I read that there were zombies running amuck in this title, I slightly groaned at first. Naturally, I’ve grown accustomed to the flesh-eating definition of zombie that has been milked to death in both comics and movies, and didn’t think of the original term of a mindless automaton. Well there are ‘zombies’ in a sense who are chasing Carrie, but the way Lee Robson incorporates them into the story had me smiling and whispering “clever girl” as the pieces fell into place. Their wordless word balloons were chilling, for it’s an eerie visual of a zombie lunging at you with nothing to say. It really is a horror story at heart, one you can slowly put together if closely inspecting the chapter headers.

Speaking of visuals, let’s talk about Bryan Coyle and his terrific use of flashbacks and flash-forwards. It’s very subtle using only two different colors to differentiate what period of time is taking place in the story; brownish-oranges for the gritty present day and cool blues for the past. The art style itself is beautiful to look at, and Coyle excels at going from dialogue heavy scenes to action shots in the drop of a hat.

Overall I was extremely pleased with this graphic novel. It’s thrilling and suspenseful, and definitely a breath of fresh air. I would highly recommend it to people who enjoyed 28 Days Later (both film and comic), or who are fascinated with language and the ancient myths that surround them. I’ll definitely be following the careers of both Robson and Coyle from here on out, and eagerly await their next big project. Start 2013 right and pick-up Babble in January!

Babble (Com.X)
Writer: Lee Robson
Artist: Bryan Coyle

Babble (ISBN 978-0-9832238-5-6) will be released in early January 2013 from Com.X, priced £10.99 / $17.99 (RRP). It’s available for pre-order now using the Diamond order code: OCT120971. Alternatively, check out where you can pre-order it online.

Cameron Hatheway is the host of Cammy’s Comic Corner, an audio podcast. You can speak to him in ‘MERICAN without the need of a Babel fish on Twitter @CamComicCorner.

 

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