Publisher: Arcana Studios
Writer: Steve Uy
Art: Steve Uy
Version Reviewed: Print single issues
For millennia on the world of WIGG’D, a secret war has been fought between two young brothers to ensure the survival of the mortal world. Set on this path of eternal enmity by their father’s decree, Jova the soldier of heaven and his younger brother Luci, cast down to fight for the souls of hell, have met countless times to do battle in the epic fashion only given to gods. Yet, no matter the scale of the confrontation or the intensity of Luci’s efforts, he remains fated to fail time and again and to be caste back down to the pits of hell—hundreds of battles over thousands of years always with same results. That is, until now. This is the basic plot of Steve Uy’s enigmatic mini-series Jova’s Harvest, which suggests a knockdown, drag-out battle of unimaginable proportions between good and evil. However, Jova’s Harvest is nothing of the sort. Though there are a few moments of truly majestic face offs, Steve Uy’s interest and analysis of the line between good and evil is much more subtle and ultimately, far more satisfying.
Jova to whom it falls to play the role of protagonist by default, walks the world of man collecting the souls of the pure, but he’s become a bit sloppy and blasé with his duties over the millennia. Likewise, his brother Luci has grown weary of his fate as well. When their sister, fondly referred to as simply “Sis”, who has been left alone in heaven pays Jova a surprised and unauthorized visit, events begin to tumble out of control leading first to tragedy that then forces Jova to make a decision that will forever alter the course of mankind.
Firstly, Jova’s Harvest is an incredibly smart and highly original exploration of morality written with bold confidence and executed to near-perfection. But now to get to what’s really unusual about this series. The dialogue is written completely in precise succinct rhyme. In the filler pages Uy who wrote, illustrated and lettered the mini-series, informs readers that the book has normal dialogue that only happens to rhyme. He implores readers to ignore the rhyme and read the dialogue as casual conversations. While Uy readily admits Jova’s Harvest is an experiment, it remains by my estimation, a very successful one. On the world of WIGG’D the mortals have not yet acquired language (their attempts at communication are rendered as squiggly lines in the book not dissimilar to the adults in Peanuts). The rhythmical speech pattern of Jova and his family are that of the gods—a thoughtful little adjustment I found plausible enough. While the book can be read and enjoyed as an irreverent tale of youthful verve, closer reading is rewarded by the revelation of a sophisticated Shakespearean tragedy.
Steve Uy’s artwork is almost as surprising as the dialogue. As can be seen in his other books and illustrations, Uy is an artistic chameleon with the ability to adjust his style to fit the desired mood of a chosen project. The characters in Jova’s Harvest are illustrated in crisp, simple, manga-styled lines—they are defined, solid and sprightly. The environs in which they are found however are something else entirely. From the majestic views of heavens, to the plains of the mortal world, and finally the broken, hellish battlefields of gods, Uy impresses with rich stunning scenes that seem to glow and dance around the figures. The CG scenes, often rendered with texture wrap techniques generally found in video game graphics, adds a heightened sense of movement making the pages appear more like painfully illustrated cells from a beautiful anime.
With the plot, dialogue, and art, (experimental or not) Uy is in total control and it shows. Jova’s Harvest published by Arcana Studio in 2005 was this gifted, independent creator’s second book. His first book, Feather, was published by Image. Currently Uy seems to have a couple projects on the burners awaiting completion (including a role playing game via kickstarter) with much sample pages of his printed works, ongoing projects, and illustrations accessible on his site at www.steveuy.com. More importantly, Jova’s Harvest can be ordered there as well. It falls on us the comics reading public to lend our support to gifted independent creators like Steve Uy who are willing—and able—to bring experimentation and daring intelligent storytelling into the comics’ industry.
NOTE: After writing this review I’ve since learned all of Steve’s illustrations are 100% hand drawn and photoshop colored without computer enhanced effects. That means all those amazing textures are digitally painted by the artist, making them all the more impressive.