RandoMonday: The Children’s Crusade #1

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

The Children’s Crusade #1 by Neil Gaiman (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Mike Barreiro (inks), Daniel Vozzo (colors), John Costanza (letters), Julie Rottenberg (asst. editor), Stuart Moore (editor), Lou Stathis and Tom Peyer (consulting editors), and John T. Totleben (cover)

There is so much going on with this comic. This issue and the next are bookends for a larger crossover “event” via many Vertigo annuals in 1993-1994: Black Orchid Annual #1, Animal Man Annual #1, Swamp Thing Annual #7, Doom Patrol Annual #2, and Arcana Annual #1 (the precursor to the Books of Magic series). In the town of Flaxdown, all of the children (nearly 40) disappeared. The sister of one of the missing, who was not in Flaxdown that day, hired the Dead Boy Detective agency to find her lost brother, Oliver. This sets Charles and Edwin on a journey of some discoveries. Interspersed throughout the book are other tales of children who disappeared throughout the ages, the first story being about the Children’s Crusade of 1212. The second tale is that of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. After that part of the story, Charles has a dream, or vision, that identifies various children across the DC universe (and thus pointing us to the aforementioned annuals). Then we are told the tale of some of the children who survived their ordeal during the Children’s Crusade, specifically, how they made it to the Free Country (in a very disturbing, gruesome way). Charles and Edwin learn that Oliver is in the Free Country, but not knowing much else, they set out to find the children from Charles’s vision.

The Bachalo/Barreiro/Vozzo art conveys the story very nicely, especially employing shadow and the use of black backgrounds effectively. There are many panels that nearly fill up a page, but there is so much necessary narration going on, you almost don’t notice the lovely renderings of the past cultures that are depicted. One aspect that I particularly liked was how the Dead Boys are shown to have empty pupils throughout the story. I don’t recall if that technique was used in their previous appearance, or after this one, but it is effective.

And you get all that in 58 pages for $3.95!

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