Review: Carbon Grey #1

Carbon Grey #1

STORY BY: Hoang Nguyen, Paul Gardner
ART BY: Khari Evans, Kinsun Loh, Hoang Nguyen
LETTERS BY: Paul Gardener
COVER BY: Hoang Nguyen

PUBLISHER: Image Comics
RELEASE DATE: Mar 2nd, 2011

I’ve made probably one of the worst mistakes when it comes to reviewing a comic, or anything for that matter. I’ve read some other reviews. Sue me, grill me, fillet my authenticity as a writer: I couldn’t help it because I was really torn on what to think about this comic.

First thoughts

Beautiful. It can’t be denied that the artistic quality and colour of this comic is beautifully done and was painstakingly executed. Every detail is there, and the colouring compliments the line art. It has a very smoked appearance, which reminds me greatly of my first true comic love: Spawn. There is a gritty darkness in each panel. It’s not ‘pretty’ or maybe, a better word is ‘clean’. The art is done cleanly with crisp lines and striking contrast but the look of the page when you take a step back isn’t cartoon drawn ‘clean’. There is a smokyness to it that I can’t quite put my finger on, but that I LOVE and admire. Hell, I’ll buy a comic just for that art style.


 I will admit, I didn’t think that at first. Not the word anyways, it was an afterthought once reading the many reviews available for this comic. Yes, it is steampunky, no I’m not original in that thought but there are some notes on it I’d like to look at. Why steampunk? It helps deviate from reality. Steampunk is an alternate history environment. It varies from author to author on how true it stays to the definition of ‘an era or world where steam power is still widely used’. (Steampunk Wikipedia Site  For more info)  Showing this world in a steampunk smoke, without really saying or describing the similarities of this Carbon Grey world and a steampunk one is leaving the options open and doesn’t waste too much time setting up the similarities. It’s assumed the reader will draw their own conclusions here. Little hints like portraying slightly advanced air-ships for the suggested time period reminds the reader that this is not OUR history, but another history. A plausible one maybe?

Is it needed? No. After having just seen SuckerPunch this style, I will note Carbon Grey’s beginning predate the cinematic juggernaut by several years, is not as new and refreshing as it should be. We don’t need steampunk to show a different reality, sometimes you can rely on the story itself and not always the time period devices. But I am a fan of steampunk, write a little of my own, so I enjoy seeing it hinted at instead of blatantly shoved in your face with dragons and automatic weapons against undead nazis. (wait, what am I reviewing again?)

The Story


I don’t think I know enough yet. This is only a three-volume comic so I don’t know how I feel about their introduction to the characters and the story of Carbon Grey.

Spoilers (?):
It’s about the Grey Sisters.
There is a legacy they have always followed.
Volume one starts off with them breaking the legacy.

It’s a classic device at if this were a ten volume or an ongoing series they could go in a million different directions and the concept leaves it open for the sisters to pursue her own story. But this is only three volumes which brings me to….


It was written like a fairytale introduction; a very vague fairytale where no one really has names, just character classifications. You are told who the sisters are while you watch one murder the Kaiser. It happens within the first few pages, so deal with the spoiler. It’s a very poetic execution of storytelling that I rather like in small doses. What worries me is they didn’t really introduce much else than the death and what the sisters look like. It was very… vague. For a longer story sure, vague is classy and seductive. It pulls you in and says ‘yeah, you want to know more. You need to know more but we’re only going to tell you the first titillating details.’ This sort of beginning reminds of a film noir, you get the narrated background details from some hardened sleuth off to the side smoking a cigarette while he fills you in on the tale he already knows the ending to.

Problem though, it’s not going to be that long. I didn’t pick it up yet, I will, but volume two isn’t that thick and I’m worried that the story is going to be rushed through to the end. That they’ll be barely anytime to savour the story before it’s over and complete, the complexities lost in a flurry of boobs and blood (I’ll get to that next).

It could, the hopeful Lisa professes, work out for the better. Not all stories have to be complex narratives or have a multitude of explanations with every detail flushed out. If there are taking a more fairytale route with the story, a glorified retelling of these adventures then yes, it can be this short and deal only with the most heroic and captivating of sequences. But three volumes seems a bit… short.

I’ll admit I’m impatient and nervous to know. It could swing either way.

The Boobs

 I’m aware that there is a long standing tradition in comics of ALL kinds that breasts are meant to be an exaggerated version of any sort of reality. Like men’s muscles. They’re always rippling and massive, beyond even the most built of muscled men. Think Zangief from Street Fighter.

But this is just… wow. I mean, boobs ahoy. And I don’t call them breasts for a reason. Women with natural and even sizable endowments have breasts. Boobs are an extreme exaggeration of what a woman of any size could POSSIBLY naturally/unnaturally have. Beyond an even traditionally accepted exaggeration.

However I will applaud the writers for having fun with this one part: a female character has large boobs and seduces a man to only show that her breasts were enlarged via a chemical that had faded and now enlarged the man’s face in a gruesome way. She’s still rocking massive breasts, but they’re breasts then, not excruciatingly large boobs that would smother a man in his sleep.

Don’t get me wrong. I like breasts. I have a pair myself and understand that there is this long standing tradition of embellishment in the comic world. This isn’t an angry fem rant, in fact I laughed out loud when I saw the first sequence in the book (you’ll have to view it for yourself). They don’t just portray a perfect version of a large breasted woman. There are a few panels with a wide variety of women’s body types. Attractive and not normally considered attractive. (Brothel sets the stage for the nudity). I just hope the artists and writers behind this are going somewhere with the hyper-sexualisation of the Grey’s and other woman in this comic. If it becomes just a reason to look at boobs then the team could have fallen into a traditional pothole where boobs abound and little room is left for creative story telling.


I’ve said a lot here, good and bad, and haven’t really come up with a solid opinion on how I feel. The art itself was stunning and made me take the comic to the cash. The bookseller’s opinion of the series (mostly on the art and process) sold me on the second volume before I even read the first page of #1. The need to end and the sheer happiness at seeing a comic book series with an end in sight have sold me on #3.

Should you buy it? Yes.

Supporting independent comics that are artfully designed and created, even if the story had no redeeming qualities would be worth it. And vice versa. Carbon Grey #1 is beautiful. Enough to make it a long standing favourite… eh we’ll see. There are two more out there. But remember that the perfect package of art and story rarely exist so experiment a little and try Caron Grey #1 out. If you don’t like it, you’re only out 3$. That’s not really a big deal and it will always be nice to look at.

Besides, in case you didn’t notice, or if you skipped to the verdict and whether you’re male, female, transgender or just confused everyone can appreciate a well drawn pair. It’s at least worth a gander at your local comic book shop.

Cheers and happy reading.


About UpsetAppleCart

A young, inexperienced yet dedicated Freelance Publicist. Branching out into the world with little knowledge of what will happen, how, where, why and when! But ready nonetheless.

Posted on May 12, 2011, in Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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