New Protagonist, New Time Period: ‘Undone By Blood, Or The Other Side Of Eden’ #1 Reviewed

by Rachel Bellwoar

Not every anthology series is built to last. What’s impressive about Undone by Blood, or The Other Side of Eden #1 is how successfully the first issue establishes a framework for the rest of the series to build on. The second arc couldn’t be more different than the first arc. New protagonist, new time period, different connection to Sol Eaton, the pulp cowboy whose exploits Ethel tried to emulate in the first arc, yet despite all these differences they feel like they’re part of the same series and that’s no easy feat.

In the second arc we’re introduced to Silvano as he’s buying The Other Side of Eden from a bookstore. Unlike Ethel, he doesn’t have a longstanding relationship to the text like she had with The Shadow of a Wanted Man, but that might be the most interesting change between the two volumes. With Undone by Blood, writers, Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson, are starting a conversation about legacy, and not just the legacy of classic works of literature but the legacy of pulp novels that some people, like the bookstore owner, try to write off, yet have been around for decades. What else could connect a teenage girl from the ’70s (Ethel) with an ex-mailman from the ’30s (Silvano)? They’ve both read the same stories.

When the bookstore owner catches Silvano skipping to the end, Silvano responds, “Wanted to see if it was a happy one.” Silvano is referring to the book’s ending and, because the first issue begins with the last pages of The Other Side of Eden, readers are able to come to their own conclusion. Silvano buys the book, though, so does that mean this is his idea of a happy ending or that he wasn’t looking for one?

Given what Silvano is about to do, that question bares asking. Silvano and his friend are staging a robbery which means, like Sol, they’re about to toe the line between outlaw and cowboy, but will they be able to get away with the job or is The Other Side of Eden complete fiction?

One thing that’s really cool about this issue is that there are a lot of clues hidden in Sami Kivelä’s art. Silvano carries around a newspaper, for instance, and Kivelä is able to use the headlines to get out information  and provide historical context. He knows how to lead the reader’s eye, too. The place they’re robbing is a skyscraper and Kivelä uses the building’s orientation to influence his layouts. Often it’s necessary to go up and down more than once, because Kivelä provides more than one perspective. A simple transaction, like paying for the book, becomes a wild west showdown in his hands. Silvano and the bookstore owner’s faces don’t change, while the transaction takes place down the middle of the page. It feels cinematic because of the way Jason Wordie colors the border around the panels so they’re all connected, like a film strip. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s letters are filled with personality, too, as in a moment when Silvano ignores the person talking to him.

You can’t know whether an anthology will work until you’ve seen the second installment, but after reading the first issue of Undone by Blood, or The Other Side of Eden, there are so many different directions this series can take.

Undone By Blood, Or The Other Side Of Eden #1 is on sale now from AfterShock Comics.

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