Michael Norwitz and Mary Ann Vaupel – writers
Enrico Carnevale – artist
Andrea Blanco – colorist
HdE – lettering
Markosia Enterprises Publishing
“The gods, [Aphrodite] reminded [Ares], have always found satisfaction in living vicariously through the lives of mortals.”
Possession is a new series published by Markosia which promises “mythology, superheroes, punk rock and kinky sex!” There’s also plenty of mystery and mayhem in these first two issues as the creative team begins unfolding their story splits between people and events in the contemporary setting of Santa Mira, a stand in for San Francisco, and a recounting of the marriage of Aphrodite and Hephaestus and the dramatic events involving other deities of the ancient Greek pantheon which followed it.
The team endeavors to take on a lofty task with a large cast so far of roughly ten characters and this isn’t counting a pair of monstrous thugs. They waste no time with the introductions starting right away in the first issue’s opening sequence with the first principal player Rusty who runs a newsstand on the busy intersection of Odyssey Street. Rusty is a likeable character who knows how to read and handle people like anyone who’s ever dealt with the public and survived the experience. Rusty may be plying customers for business and tips but he shows compassion and dignity to homeless Zeke and his cat Jack. Rusty’s sister Anaya shows up in issue two though her role in the story begins to unfold in issue #3. Cora is the last of the characters we meet to this point through Rusty. Cats are Cora’s joy and love and seemingly the only way she’s able to relate with other people with the exception of Bertrand. Then again, Bertrand may be more than human and I’m getting ahead of myself. In her mundane life Cora is an employee of Golden State Electric & Gas holding down a boring job. Like Rusty, Cora also is a means to through which the team introduce several other cast members employed at the utility corporation. They include department manager Leilani Chance who enlists Javier Sanchez to help her cover up matters that would likely reveal her affair with a senior partner of GSE & G supplier Ames and Associates. Sarah is an accountant who, despite Leilani’s efforts, has uncovered some curious billing from Ames. Then there’s Sarah’s astral friend Prudence urging her to report these discrepancies to…Leilani. Not to be forgotten is Sheila who comes to Zeke’s rescue at punk concert before crossing paths with Javier who at this point is on the run from the afore mentioned monstrous thugs.
And those are the major players in just two issues! I’m in awe with how the creative team is keeping every thing balanced and in motion with every character having either another side to their lives or a secret.
Michael Norwitz, one half of the writing team, informs me that several members of ensemble cast are not straight, including siblings Rusty and Anaya whose partners are Simon and Mei-Xing respectively. They show up in issue #3 and Norwitz promises the story won’t shy away from showing the couples as intimate. The focus in issues #5 and #6 hones in on Anaya and Mei-Xing and the all lesbian band Fairy Twists that they’re members of. As for Javier, who’s been prominent here at the outset, Norwitz also tells me there’s more to him that will be revealed in issue #5 too. This level of commitment to queer (and diverse) characters is refreshing and intrigues me to discover how their sexuality plays out on the page given what’s been shown with opposite sex pairings as briefly noted below.
Now how does the connection with myth, superheroes, and kinky sex parts come into play?
The quote appearing at the start of this review is found at the close of issue two and it functions as an epigraph for the story while the exact accounting awaits further revelations. I’ve theory about several of the cast. Given Rusty’s position as a messenger of information he may be linked with Hermes. Zeke’s outward appearance alludes to Hephaestus. Bertrand, who figures into Cora’s life, is definitely more than human as his transformation after seducing Cora proves. A bacchanalian Dionysius comes to mind. Emphasis on the orgiastic and ecstatic qualities attributed to Bacchanalia and various mystery cults by ancient Greeks. The mysterious winged being who seems to be the catalyst for a passionate, airborne sexual tryst between Sheila and Javier is possibly Eros. Sheila already having some kind of power of her own on top of being bad ass and compassionate is also a real possibility. Speaking of Cora and Javier, I think they’re the characters which have drawn my attention the most to date. Loneliness and the desire for attention are very human and relatable emotional states which can lead people to bad decisions or being taken advantage of by others and I hope her character comes through whatever lies ahead so much the better. With Javier it’s his decisiveness…and yes, he’s easy on the eyes.
Enrico Carnevale has his hands full too as both the artist and inker. Carnevale uses two styles that complement the story’s contrasting present day scenes with the mythological interludes. In the preceding paragraph I mentioned that Javier’s attractiveness. On a related note, kudos to the writers for assigning some characters with realistic body types that are often missing from comics and to Carnevale for translating them with visual accuracy. Carnevale adopts two styles with his art; a realistic one for the contemporary scenes and another which is reminiscent of bas relief sculpture and art techniques pre-dating Renaissance perspective that flatly renders figures in two dimensional space. Confused? Think Egyptian hieroglyphs but more detailed and physically precise. Colorist Andrea Blanco takes similar approaches with both time periods. Blanco uses several subdued color palettes with restrained light rendering with the right amount of depth to benefit of Carnevale’s modern style. With the mythological interludes she switches to a flat, decorative style relying primarily on ochres and other warm tones. HdE provides the lettering for Possession. Often letterers for mainstream publishers will use a font in one color on top of a contrasting color field to make a text box pop or distinctive to a character. It looks nice but can also be an eye strain. Here, HdE’s pair of lettering choices is concise and easy to read and this pair of older eyes is very thankful!
I went into reading Possession not knowing the least what to expect. Pleasantly I discovered engaging characters and lots of puzzle pieces that have kept me trying to figure out how they come together. One thing did call attention to itself in my reading. That being the shift in location involving Sheila and Javier from issue one’s cliffhanger to their location in issue two. I think it could have benefitted from a bit smoother transition though the change absolutely makes sense from a storytelling perspective. All told, it’s a minor quibble and especially so now after looking a little more into Possession (see links below) and having my interest piqued even more.
Possession is a labor of love for everyone putting it together and certainly they should take pride in their accomplishments. If you’re interested in comics with queer and diverse characters, and I assume that’s the case since you’re reading this review on a queer comics site, then you consider checking out this series.
Art by Enrico Carnevale and Andrea Blanco