‘September Mourning: The Complete Collection’ is artful marriage of gothic aesthetic, superhero stakes

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Grade: 3.0/5.0

It’s a story not so familiar. Girl meets girl. Then they meet another girl. It turns out they’re destined to save the world, so they set out to do just that. Oh, and one of them is half-reaper and half-human, the other is blind but can see dead people and the last had her soul transferred to another body after dying.

This is the premise that commands the dark gothic world of “September Mourning: The Complete Collection.” The collection brings together four issues telling the story of September Mourning, a character created by Emily Lazar and Mark Silvestri, as well as how she teams up with blind Claire and formerly dead Hannah. September (played by Lazar) has also made quite the name for herself as a hard rock performer with a heavy helping of goth vibes.

As a compassionate reaper who understands humanity, September chooses to save certain souls who die before their time. This is the first time that the half-human, half-reaper has had her story expounded into a full-length narrative, complete with a cast of supporting characters.

Unfortunately, this is where the ambition of the project meets its maker — the story is not just September’s, rather a much larger story about a prophesied trio getting together to save the souls of humanity. There is an overwhelming amount of action and narrative packed into this collection, and much of it suffers from haste. The issues have varying writers — with Lazar being one of them — and while they are able to build a united, cohesive narrative within the span of the four stories in the collection, nothing is ever explored in depth.

Claire’s narration introduces us to Mortem, the underworld, and its host of reapers. She then explains how she came to realize that she could see the dead. Without further ado, the comic launches into its grander narrative. It isn’t long before September is kicking ass (and looking amazing while doing it in her stunning, all-white ensemble). They meet Hannah, solidify their quest and the rest would count as spoilers.

Given that the release was labeled the “complete collection,” it isn’t certain whether or not this truly is the end of “September Mourning.” It doesn’t seem like a long shot to assume that much of the lackluster storytelling burdening the comic is an unfortunate result of being restricted to a brief four issues. The jury is still out on whether this is a case of luckless limitations or lazy storytelling.

Yet, for all of its narrative failures and restrictions, “September Mourning” still maintains an impressive amount of charm. The stark, quick-witted humor is always on-beat and well-timed, and somehow — almost impossibly — meshes incredibly well with the overall aesthetic of the story. It makes for a delightful, entertaining read that keeps you rooting for the Trinity and booing at antagonist Fate, even if the rapidness of it all just might give you whiplash at the same time.

And the art on its own is almost enough to completely carry the comic altogether. Alternating artists Sumeyye Kesgin and Tina Valentino, as well as colorists Betsy Golden and Katarina Devic, do a stunning job at capturing the gloominess of September’s world with the occasional, artfully placed pops of brighter colors. Although these instances of color are a slight departure from the palette of the project’s musical component, they enhance the texture of the story, and make it seem more like a comic in its own right rather than a mere extension of an artistic concept.

It’s a shame that there is no news about a possible continuation of “September Mourning,” because there’s no doubt that it would be just as badass as the first four issues, flawed storytelling and all. “September Mourning” might not quite be a must-read, but it’s a fun read nonetheless. Besides, September isn’t really over — there’s always her music to blast when you need something headbang-worthy.

Contact Alex Jiménez at [email protected]. Tweet her at @alexluceli.