Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

SMUGGLING SPIRITS BOOK TWO by Ben Fisher and Mike Henderson

Cover Image
Al Stone and his young ally Nathan are back in the second installment of Smuggling Spirits. They live in a world that’s gone seriously wrong from ours. Demons – called Darklings – hunt and feed on humans. Al really hits their radar because he’s become the unwitting vessel of an essence that will prolong the lives of one of the Darkling clans.

Henderson’s art is up to the same standards as before. The black and white imagery is rough, but it’s sharp and emotional. The context of good and evil is found in every panel in the jarring colors. He makes good use of shadows, lights, and characters’ posture. Fisher’s writing really stands out because he only puts words on the page to propel the story forward. He doesn’t overwrite the artist’s images, and if those images tell the story, he stays off the page.

This volume starts out more slowly than the first, but it catches up new readers almost effortlessly. Not only that, but the brooding sense of danger lurks on every page. I worried about Nathan when he lies awake in bed, and then when he carries his single candle down into the basement to confront the Darkling captured there.

The exchange of dialogue between Nathan and the Darkling lets new readers know everything they need to, as well as reminding previous readers what’s going on. Then it ups the stakes by putting a ticking clock inside Al. Henderson does a masterful job of moving the “camera” around the scene instead of merely pushing through the sequence in a succession of “talking heads” that would have been boring and repetitive.

All bets are off when Al and Nathan try to flee the farmhouse and get overrun with Darklings. The action is intense and the emotions spill free. One particular sequence – when Al is about to kill the evil farmer – sticks out in my mind. Fisher and Henderson manage to pull off quite a feat with the twist they show.

The final scenes of the book unwind in cinematic glory. The black and white images hit the pages with force, and it’s easy to see how this book could become a terrific B movie, especially in a movie environment that’s currently favorable to comic properties.

The bonus material in the volume is generous. The Gag Page showing Fisher’s art and take on what Henderson would do with the material was hilarious, and also reflects on how well the two must have worked together during the project. There are also pages of Fisher’s script opposite Henderson’s artwork for readers that might be interested in how comic scripts are written and how collaborative putting out a graphic novel is.

I had a great time with this sleek little tale. Plenty of action, monsters, and characters I could really get behind provide a lot of reasons to go back through it occasionally for a re-read. But I wish Fisher and Henderson would get something else out. I’m looking forward to it.



3 Responses to “SMUGGLING SPIRITS BOOK TWO by Ben Fisher and Mike Henderson”

  1. […] And here’s one from BookHound for SMUGGLING SPIRITS: BOOK TWO […]

  2. […] from the educational value, it is a really fun read. Read here for a good summary of the second volume and a well-deserved rave […]

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