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March 13, 2012

Touring the Cosmos: Grace Comes Home: Stormfront

Grace Comes Home is one intense ride. For mature readers only, it was originally released as a ten issue webcomic by publisher DarkBrain. Collecting all ten issues, plus a bunch of extra pin-up art, Grace Comes Home: Stormfront boasts a different team of artists for each issue. A mix of sex, action, aliens, and a ton of gore, Grace Comes Home: Stormfront is not for the faint of heart.



Grace Comes Home: Stormfront

Writers: Wintress Odom and Stephanie Hashagen
Artists: Various
Edits: Andrew Zar and Nathan Reese
Publisher: DarkBrain Comics


Grace Comes Home weaves together a few different plot-lines to fuse into one energetic and vivid sci-fi story. The story centers around Grace, a young lady who was abducted from her life seven years prior. Now obviously, when dealing within the realm of science fiction, it was aliens that abducted her. Grace was changed by these aliens, but eventually managed to find her way home. Now, you would think that getting home after being abducted by aliens would make life a little simpler, but it only caused an enormous amount of problems. Grace is being hunted by an alien she doesn’t know, her husband has spent the last seven years in jail, and a secret government agency means to catch Grace. And this is only scratching the surface of the multitude of problems Grace faces.

The emotion and tension in Grace Comes Home: Stormfront is all very real. Usually when you’re dealing with an alien abduction tale, readers see what happens when our protagonist is abducted. In Grace Comes Home, we see the other side. How will people react when they see you’ve returned? What has changed in that time? In Grace’s case, a lot. Every confrontation that Grace deals with comes from a very raw place within the heart, thanks to writers Wintress Odom and Stephanie Hashagen. These very real feelings make the nudity and sex in Grace Comes Home feel a lot more natural. When DarkBrain claims their reads are for mature readers only, they mean it. There is A LOT of sex and nudity. But most of it makes sense. I mean, if you came back home looking like an alien with strange snake tentacles all over you, would you be concerned with putting on some clothes? Being a mature read, it would only make sense that when you depict a scene between two lovers at night, sex is involved. Fortunately, with Grace Comes Home, these sex scenes don’t last longer than they should, and generally fit the tone of the story. There were a few times when it seemed kind of odd that the first thing that comes off someone getting attacked is the “skirt and shirt,” but when reading a mature read like this, it should be expected.

Tony Lindsey and Marc Bourcier

Wintress Odom and Stephanie Hashagen have crafted one helluva roller coaster of a story. When you first dive into this read, you are led to feel for Grace. I mean the lady has spent seven years off planet, away from her husband and everything she knows. When she gets back, all you want is for her to get to her husband, right the wrongs in her absence, and live a peaceful life. But of course, this was not meant to be. Just before the midway point of the story, you start to see that Grace isn’t exactly the “good guy,” and she continually gets worse. This is what makes it difficult to really connect to anyone in this story. For the first half readers root for one team, then in the second half you’re forced to root for a team that you may not necessarily like. In some stories, for example The Fly, the one constant in the story was “Sparky.” The alien chasing Grace had every right to do so, but because the writers created her as a sub-plot, you never fully engage with Sparky.  As far as relationships in the story, they feel like they are coming from a very real place for the writers. They have a lot of spirit, and those moments were easy to get attached to. These parts of the story really flourish, and engage the reader. The biggest problem with this story was that some characters were not very consistent. The main aliens were written pretty consistently, but others weren’t. Grace’s husband, Trevor, for example. At one point he is a helpless, wrongfully accused inmate. At other points, he is a sex hungry playboy, and at others he is a loving husband/father. Also, the agents trying to capture Grace felt pretty faceless. They were hard to distinguish, partly because they had similar names (Swain, Spain), and partly because at some points in the story they felt kind of forced, and at others they were pushed as the main characters.

Caesar and Christa Rosenkranz

While the story was on and off, so was the art. But that is due to the fact that there were ten different art teams! Grace Comes Home was originally released as a ten issue webcomic, with a different art team on each issue. At first glance, one might feel that this is a bad thing. As a whole, the artists did their best to bring their own unique talents to the story, while keeping as much cohesion from team to team as they could. And they did a pretty good job at that. The look of the aliens was kept the same from team to team, and most of the other characters were pretty easy to distinguish, barring a few of the agents. The level of gore and sex was kept pretty consistent as each team passed through. There were some pretty unique styles displayed with some pretty impressive images. Notably, John McGuinness had a realistic look with a ton of detail, and Carol Quinones and Stephen Lemineur provided some very colorful visuals, really catching the space side of the story. As a whole, the art didn’t detract from the story. The artists were obviously chosen for their ability to not only draw a nice panel, but also adhere to a more graphic audience.

Carol Quinones and Stephen Lemineur

While it seems that there is a lot of complaining going on here, Grace Comes Home: Stormfront was a very exciting read from start to finish. Readers can appreciate the fact that while being a mature read, the nudity and gore felt natural in most places. Grace Comes Home brings a very inventive twist to the alien abduction idea, one that is fun to read and explore. Even though a different art team was used for each issue, there was some cohesion with familiar characters and devices used by every artist. Wintress Odom and Stephanie Hashagen brought a very raw feeling to the story as a whole. The relationships between the characters were real, and the motivations for everyone were easy to understand. There was a bit of confusion with the way some characters behaved, like Trevor, Grace’s husband. It was also kind of hard to tell who exactly the reader was supposed to care for. The minor drawbacks were easy to overlook, though, because in the end the story felt very complete. Being a fan of science-fiction, it is easy to like Grace Comes Home: Stormfront, but you most definitely have to be able to read “outside the box.”


Mike Parente



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