Thomas Woodwind is a professional. Silver-haired, sharply dressed, blunt in manner. He’s been the best at what he does for a long time, if he wasn’t the best he wouldn’t be around to be involved in this story. He specializes in security, especially getting around it. That’s why he’s been summoned by the top London firm to retrieve something of priceless value, he’ll get the job done quickly, quietly and completely. Of course as this is a Warren Ellis story, nothing is always quite what it seems.
SVK is a collaboration between Ellis, artist D’Israeli and London-based design firm Berg. It was released in July and quickly sold out the first printing (you can sign up to be notified when it’s available again). Beyond being a work from two masters of their craft SVK garnered a lot of attention for an interesting experiment with UV ink. The comic comes with a credit card-sized UV lamp that reveals an extra layer of hidden elements on some of the pages that at first seems like a gimmick but quickly reveals itself as an essential component to this 40 page, self-contained story. The lamp, bag & board and plain white cardboard envelope that it’s shipped in feels like it’s part of the story helping to round out the experience of reading it.
D’Israeli’s stark palette of black, white and light blue help emphasize the UV elements, letting them pop when needed and not be a distraction when not shining the lamp on them. You get the feeling that Berg had a hand in the layout and look of it. Even the combo of real and fake ads get in on the hidden UV ink fun. There’s a lot of little details out in the open and revealed by the lamp that are fun to discover in an otherwise slick and serious tale.
Though the tale is told as intended you can’t help but feel like Ellis wants to let this one breathe and explore where he can take Woodwind. I know I’d love to keep watching him walk down a crowded city street taking out spooks without breaking a stride or missing a beat of phone conversation. The thing I’m not sure about is if I’d want to keep paying the asking price. Factoring in currency conversion, international shipping and the ten pound asking price I paid around $30 for this one issue. There’s no doubt that reading SVK is a fun experience. The mixture of government spy/security intrigue, unique printing features and separate essays spread through the issue it’s hard to not suggest getting in line for one of the next print runs to pick up your own copy.