Pullbox Reviews: Going to the Chapel #1 – More fun than a car full of armed Elvises… (Elvi? Elvesees?)

Get ready to say yes to distress in GOING TO THE CHAPEL, an insanely action-packed romantic comedy from Ringo Award-nominated writer David Pepose (Spencer & Locke) and rising star artist Gavin Guidry (The Death Defying) at Action Lab: Danger Zone. Emily Anderson’s big day had become the wedding from hell — and that was before the bank robbers showed up. What do a conflicted bride, her dysfunctional family, a gang of Elvis-themed crooks, and one relentless sheriff have in common? They’re all about to discover love is the ultimate hostage situation. Fans of Sex Criminals, Jessica Jones, and 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank will say “I do” to GOING TO THE CHAPEL, available in comic shops and on digital devices Fall 2019 (September 4th, to be exact)!

Doesn’t every bride approach their wedding day with equal parts excitement and dread? In all of the stories, it’s the perfect day… and in reality it never seems to live up to expectations. Emily Anderson has a taste of that as her Big Day approaches. Everything is ready. The church is decorated, the priest is mostly sober, and the pews are filled with friends and family. Her gown is gorgeous, and her CEO father has arranged for her to wear a sapphire necklace valued at $250 million, on loan from a Parisian museum (there’s a heavy smack with the foreshadowing bat). Oh yeah, and the groom… Jesse… he’s absolutely crazy about her. On what should be the greatest day of her life, what could possibly go wrong?

Described by writer David Pepose as “it’s like if Die Hard got hitched to Wedding Crashers, or if Tarantino had a baby with Arrested Development, and then chose to bring that baby to a wedding.” Going to the Chapel is a title that’s out to crush expectations in every sense of the word. Whether it’s Emily’s ideals for the wedding, the reader’s inkling of what a crime caper set in a wedding chapel should be, there’s one adage that seems to hold true: No plan survives first contact with the enemy.

Pepose has a gift for taking tropes and turning them on their ear. He first did it with the outstanding debut title, Spencer & Locke 1 & 2, and in his follow up comic he’s looking to do it again. What Pepose does very well is gauge what the average reader thinks should happen in a given situation. With Spencer & Locke, he took beloved Sunday newspaper funny pages and twisted them into something outrageous and occasionally gut churning. His set up for Going to the Chapel looks to be something a little more light-hearted, but no less shocking in his irreverent approach to stereotypes. Sure, it’s a heist caper. That’s established pretty early on in the opening issue, so no big spoilers there. The bride is wearing a necklace worth $250 million, a fact that was announced on the news! What group of daring thieves wouldn’t take a long hard look at a score like that? Enter the Bad Elvis Gang: Motown, Vegas, Romero, & Tom (huh?), as audacious a group of ne’er-do-wells as you’re ever likely to find. Poor Emily doesn’t stand a chance… right?

Right?

Okay, maybe we need to take another look at that awesome Lisa Sterle cover, cuz I’m not so sure the Bad Elvises (what is the plural of Elvis? Elvi? Elveen? Is it a pack, a gaggle, a pride?) know what they’re getting into.

You know what else Pepose has a knack for? Finding the right artist for the story he’s looking to tell. Partnered up with Jorge Santiago on Spencer & Locke (I know I keep bringing it up, but I’m hoping to convince that one person out there who hasn’t read it yet to go out and buy it right now), the dynamic duo created something truly awesome. In Going to the Chapel, Pepose has teamed with another fantastic artistic team that catches the attitude of the book and runs with it. Illustrated by Gavin Guidry, this story of love and thievery looks great. Where some comicbook artists might have a problem in dealing with non-superheroic characters, Guidry nails it. His characters all look like he did his own casting call for this Tarantino-esque Rom/Com, based in reality and perfectly fitting- from the feisty and tough as nails grandmother, ready to stub her cigarette out in an Elvis’s eye, to the roguishly dashing Boss Elvis who has his eye firmly on the prize. Guidry gives everyone the attitude they need to play their part in the coming chaos promised by the end of the issue.

Filling out the visuals, colorist Liz Kramer gets it. This is a character driven title that has some serious undertones, painted with a more light-hearted brush (remember… twisting expectations). Where she could have gone a little dark, she stuck with pretty bright palette. Her color choices do a great job of reminding the reader that we’re not in for a blood bath (unless she’s pulling off one helluva rope-a-dope) so much as an epic comedy of errors. If everything were all dark and broody, we’d miss out on some of the more subtle comedic beats.

I have to give a nod to the work laid out by letterers Ariana Maher & Colin Bell. Lettering is, by necessity, a subtle job. The idea is to present your work without an eye toward standing out, but to help tell the story while still letting the pictures do their jobs. There’s only so much room in a comicbook panel, so that real estate can’t be taken up by overlapping word balloons. Maher & Bell go with a no frill approach, keeping it low-key… with the occasional ka-BOOM to make sure everyone’s still paying attention.

Going to the Chapel doesn’t start out with the throttle open and the pedal to the floorboard. So far, it’s all about a mishmash group of characters, thrown together in relatively close environment. When things start to kick off, we’re gonna have some questions as to the whole hostage/hostage taker dynamic, and I think that’s when it’s going to get really interesting.

Final Score: 9

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