REVIEW: ‘November,’ Volume #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

November Volume #1

November Volume #1 is published by Image Comics, written by Matt Fraction, art by Elsa Charretier, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, and letters by Kurt Ankey. November Volume #1 tells an interlocking set of stories about three women living through hard times in the big city. Day to day life is a struggle, but they keep pulling through the days. And then, something changes and their worlds may never be the same.

Ongoing narratives can be a difficult balancing act. While each piece of the story looks to build on the whole, it also needs to stand alone in order for it to give the reader a satisfying experience. This is the great failing of November Volume #1. By the time I had completed my read I didn’t feel like I had been given a whole story set within a larger framework. I had just been given a piece of a story. It was like watching a movie and having the film just stop at the end of the first act. While what I read makes me think there could be a good story developing here, I cannot say that the book itself provides a good story.

While the story may not be completely formed, the character are thoroughly explored throughout this volume. For anyone familiar with Fraction’s other works, this isn’t a surprise. From down on her luck Dee, to the overworked police operator Kowalski, each character stands out from the others in a distinctive way. Each only sharing one common thread: they’ve all had better days.

November volume 1

The art of November Volume #1 is perfectly chosen to fit the tone of the book. It’s simple lines and mostly single-colored panels create a noir air that matches well to the story. The big city streets and shady diners the book often occupies are natural fits for this visual approach. The visual, combined with solid character work, creates an excellent space for a story to take place. If only a story had shown up to occupy it.

The only space where the visual presentation of November Volume #1 fails is in its lettering. Letterer Ankey uses a typeface that often proves difficult to read. While the mushed together style of writing lends itself visually to the presentation of the rest of the book, it does so at the sacrifice of clarity. There are even some letters that randomly are written in cursive that further throw off the flow of reading. While I appreciate the intent of this lettering, I can’t help but think the mark was missed with this.

When all is said and done November Volume #1 serves as a potentially strong piece of a greater narrative that fails to stand on its own. If you are looking for a slow burn noir style read, November Volume #1 could be something to look into. However, if you want something that tells it’s own story I could not recommend this book.

November Volume #1 is available May 6th wherever comics are sold.

November Volume #1
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TL;DR

November Volume #1 serves as a potentially strong piece of a greater narrative that fails to stand on its own. If you are looking for a slow burn noir style read, November Volume #1 could be something to look into. However, if you want something that tells it’s own story I could not recommend this book.