The Legend of the Night Owl #1

Words: Afrim Gjonbalaj

Art: Kieran X Quinn

Letters: Josh Adams

Publisher: Legacy Comix

What exactly does it mean to carry on a legacy? Does it matter who you’ve learned things from? Does it matter if it’s a family or cultural aspect versus something that you’ve picked up just by living your life? Do you have to know you’re doing it for things to count?

These are all questions that get asked by The Legend of the Night Owl #1. Or attempt to anyway because let’s be real getting an answer to those questions would probably break the world.

The first thing that really grabs my attention here is the growth from #0 to this issue. 0 wasn’t bad by any means, but here in #1 the story just has so much more room to breathe. I don’t want to be told that Faruq (our main character) is mad that his bag is stolen or worried about his mother. That’s what the art is for. Gjonbalaj’s writing here lets Quinn and the art show us what’s going on in a way that dialog simply can’t. It’s the spaces here that really let us see the humanity in the situation.

Comics is a medium that lets you ignore silly things like special effects budgets and physics. But even within the traditions established by the medium there are certain conventions and traditions readers have come to expect. And much like my school art teachers would tell me, you have to know the rules in order to break them. So what do we have here? Characters appearing multiple times in single panels. Panel edges might not even exist, instead being lines that exist in the world of the comic like the edges of windows or trash in the street. And even when those panel borders exist  at all they might only be a suggestion.

I’ve seen a lot of people try to do unconventional things with the art. A lot of what I’ve seen doesn’t work. There are no examples of that in this entire book.

It’s hard to separate the art from the writing on this one. So much of the story is told through facial expressions and actions and it would have been so easy to fill the page with thoughts and dialog could have easily crowded the page. Instead we have a smooth telling of the story with hardly any actual telling at all.

The perfect example might be two pages which use a grand total of 3 words.

  • Page 1: Not shown because come on, I think you should buy this thing
    • Panel 1: Faruq has a relatively peaceful subway ride interrupted by a group of kids
    • Panel 2: The kids are dancing like in a TikTok video 1Is that what the kids are calling it? I’m old. I don’t know.
    • Panel 3: Faruq pulls out money but gives them a bit of side eye. He’s obviously suspicious.
  • Page 2: Shown because I can’t explain this without showing you something and still do it justice
    • Panel 1: The kids grab stuff and run. Faruq looks more sad than angry.
    • Panels 2 and 3: One of the kids is running through the subway cars. Faruq chases after him looking more and more worried.
    • Panel 42This really could be 3 separate panels but I read them all as one and to be perfectly honest with you it’s easier for me to tell you what’s going on if it’s a single panel.: Faruq is more and more worried as he runs through the subway cars. See the passage of time and space as he’s going so hard after this kid that he doesn’t line up going from one window pane to the other.
    • Panel 5: Even with Faruq in the background as much as he is it’s easy to tell that he’s more worried than mad at the kid with his stolen bag. The kid is also worried because hey, this guy is still following him and that’s no way to get away with stealing a bag.

If I didn’t know better I’d think that Gjonbalaj and Quinn are secretly the same person. I’m fairly certain they aren’t so I guess we’ll have to just believe that they both found the perfect balance in pulling what they need to tell the story out of the other.

Which brings me back to the original question: what does it mean to carry on a legacy? And how can you tell if what you’re currently doing is on the track to start its own legacy?

We have the start of a story where Faruq has to reconcile where he is now with where a younger him promised he would be. We have other characters who can’t escape a life that they have tried to leave behind. The story here follows a lot of what I’ve come to expect in an origin story, but slightly off. Which I mean in a good way. There’s a great mix of the expected and unforeseen where the story was comfortable like a warm blanket but I never felt like this was the thousandth time I’d read it.

Jumping off the page into the real world we have a set of creators in Gjonbalaj, Quinn, and Adams who are laying a great foundation for being big names you should see a lot of in the coming years.

Buckle up. This is going to be a fun ride.

Buy it for yourself at the Legacy Comix shop.

Chris runs the Play Comics podcast and website. When he’s not he’s usually spending time with his wife and three cats. Or working on his other podcast Caffeine and Spite or on another show from the Gonna Geek network, Legends of Shield. Other bylines include:

Footnotes

  • 1
    Is that what the kids are calling it? I’m old. I don’t know.
  • 2
    This really could be 3 separate panels but I read them all as one and to be perfectly honest with you it’s easier for me to tell you what’s going on if it’s a single panel.

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