Finder: Voice (Dark Horse)

Carla Speed McNeil’s luscious “aboriginal Sci-Fi” world returns with this tale of young Rachel’s struggle to find a "Finder," recover her stolen ring, and survive in the cutthroat spectacle of the Llaverac Clan Conformity competition. But finding a Finder is no easy task, and Rachel’s search might uncover some new truths along the way—including about herself.

216 pgs. B&W; $19.99
(W / A: Carla Speed McNeil)
 
 
Since 1996, Carla Speed McNeil has been crafting Finder, an “aboriginal Sci-Fi” saga rivaling the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and George R. R. Martin. Nominated for multiple Eisner awards, McNeil’s world of Anvard, its surrounding lands, and all of the peoples who live there easily mesmerize her readers.
 
Finder: Voice, winner of the 2009 Eisner award for best webcomic, revisits the Grosvenor family, who were also the main characters in McNeil’s first Finder comics, collected as Finder: Sin Eater. However, Voice focuses on Rachel, eldest daughter of Llaverac mom Emma and Medawar father Brigham. Being the only one of Emma’s three children who could possibly hope to be accepted into the Llaverac clan, Rachel has joined the legions of other Llaverac girls competing in the annual Conformation Competition. If you think Toddlers and Tiaras is intense, you ain’t seen nuthin’! Winners get an official place in the clan, a title, and their future secured. Losers are relegated to looking for menial work and scraping by the rest of their lives, especially if those losers are “culls,” the children of parents from different clans—like Rachel and her sisters. Her success is the only hope she and her younger sisters have to get ahead in the caste-driven world of Anvard. But, just as Rachel’s getting her foot in the door of this drama-filled pageant, disaster strikes. She’s mugged, and her Clan ring, sigil of her lineage and literal ticket to compete in the Conformation Competition, is stolen. Realizing how hopeless it would be to try to track down the ring herself in the domed megalopolis, Rachel tries a different tack: trying to find the one person she knows who can find it: Jaeger Ayers, her mother’s wandering, aboriginal, rakish, sometimes-boyfriend. Jaeger is a Finder, and has a knack for turning up exactly what you need. The only problem? He’s even harder to find than Rachel’s ring.
 
With seedy bars, roving gangs, and crooked cops, it’s dangerous to go wandering around the labyrinth of Anvard, but Rachel is determined. In a world that prides itself on conformity and standards, it can be tough trying to find your place among a hundred lookalikes—but finding your voice is priceless.
 
As in the other Finder volumes, McNeil’s artwork is gorgeous, lovingly rendered in black and white and with impeccable attention to detail. She makes cross-hatching look effortless, and in the process is able to give weight to fabric, and depth to the dark. Unlike earlier volumes, McNeil seems more at ease using the entire page, and often the reader is given the entire scene “painted” on a single canvas. She also includes “silhouette scenes,” where a character’s outline, instead of plain squared panel borders, separates the scenes. This is not only visually interesting, but is also often another piece to the storyline itself.
 
For newcomers to the Finder series, simply jumping into Voice could prove confusing. Trying to sort out the city of Anvard, the various clans and their hierarchies, omnipresent technologies like skulljacks and snake egg cameras, and the family drama of the Grosvenors takes some time. To fully understand the intricate relationships that make various encounters in the story significant, I would recommend that new readers begin with Sin Eater. But, for those who are more adventurous and willing to take things in stride (or to read the author’s chapter notes at the end of the book), McNeil’s story of a young girl trying to find herself while trying to help her family is compelling enough on its own. | Elizabeth Schweitzer
 
Click here for a preview of Finder: Voice, courtesy of Dark Horse. Learn more about Finder at http://www.lightspeedpress.com/.

 

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