RATO (Plug)

page to edit - Copy103612RATO (Plug)

Staff: Brian S Logan, Stefano Cardoselli (P/I), M R Dodson/Azurek Studios (Color), Bram Meehan (Letters)

Overview:

So the 80’s called, they want their scifi back.

Review:

I have to admit, I love the 80s (see my black salt review for more on that). Let’s start this review by saying that the art style is downright tantalizing. Kind of reminds me of Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl), Heavy Metal,  Peter Chung  (Æon Flux, Phantom 2040), and the like.

It seems like for every ounce of love put into the artwork, an equal amount was taken out of the lettering.

The comic preview is short (only 5 pages including the cover). It tells a story mostly though a visual medium, which is rare and interesting. I wish more people could accomplish telling a story purely though art.  I would have bought and reviewed the entire comic (rather than a preview) except there isn’t any more and it was added in July of 2012. Sadly this means that that’s all we get to see of this one. Oh well, c‘est la vie.

Metrics

Art: 9/10 (80s called. They want to give you a metal)

Lettering: 4/10 (Poor but not distracting)

Plot: 8/10 (For a visual story with little text- excellent.)

Novelty: 8/10 (Novel)

Overall: 8.5/10

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Pink Pandas

90842-thumb140Pink Pandas

Staff: Dave Farmer

Overview:

Dave… we need to talk.

Review:

So this is from author/artist Dave Farmer. Which… confuses me. It seems like it is written by and for girls. I mean it’s called “Pink Pandas” and is covered in more sticky sweep pinkness than a 5 year old girl’s room. I’m not judging, but somewhere between impressed and confused. Let’s dive in and see what this has to offer!

So right off the bad my heart sinks. The artwork is grainy, low resolution, stock images or something with text superimposed over it. Letting is solid and readable, but the stock photography is… atrocious. When Brian Vaughan and Tony Harris did their award winning Ex Machina comic, they used staged pictures for the basis of their images and drew over them. No such inspiration here. Just low rez images put into panels.

Once we get to the ACTUAL art, it’s slightly styalized but mostly just bad. They look very realistic but often times the backgrounds suffer immensely from a lack of attention. Then there are some REALLY terrible gun effects on page 9 that make me just want to cry. This guy honestly has some talent burred under there, but he takes the lazy way out and just uses what look like MS paint effects to show us some gunshots. I… I really don’t know what was going though his head at that moment. “Man, I have this gorgeously detailed piece, Better throw some low transparency grey over it and some black blobs.” Come on Dave!

It’s pretty clear off the bat that I am not the intended demographic. I’m not going to judge the plot harshly because it does what it sets out to do. It creates the image of two idealized rock star teenagers (or early 20s?) who are doing the girly girl thing. Then the main characters start swearing (“Crap!”) and start pulling out shotguns and pumping bad guys full of led. Disconnect much? Who is this comic being written for? The little girl appeal of the premise is destroyed by the few swears and blood and gore that comes later. Anyone who would be able to enjoy the violent aspects of this comic would be totally turned off by the kid friendly premise.

At first I gave this book 6/10 for lettering… but then I got to page 5. From then on non-dialogue text starts showing up and I cringed. It’s pretty bad. Red stroked black text in some san-serif stock font really just manages to hurt the eyes rather than impress.

Metrics

Art: 1/10 (Stock photos and sloppy backgrounds)

Lettering: 3/10 (Good until you get to the onomatopoeia)

Plot: 3/10 (WHO ARE YOU WRITING FOR DAVE?)

Novelty: 1/10 (What novelty)

Overall: 2/10

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Fracture

95846-thumb140Fracture

Staff: Shawn Gabborin, Chad Cicconi, Dave Dwonch

Overview:

Good premise that is a bit squandered

Review:

The premise is a nice twist on the secret identity trope. The protagonist is also the villain and has a mundane persona too. Lets see if they actually follow through on this.

Lettering is fine and the art, while not major publisher grade, is not outright bad. There are some weird expressions and over simplified actions that show a lack of dedication to dynamic posing, but overall it’s ok. There are a few notable onomatopoeias that are actually pretty decent.

So the story does follow though a bit, but it is all cliches. You can kind of guess most of the plot. How is he all three? You guessed it, split personality disorder. It feels like a squandered premise a bit. Dialogue like, “Yesterday I was foiled again!” fall really flat and almost make me groan.  Every trapping of a mad scientist villain is there and it almost feels like it’s being lamp-shaded but they really play it to straight for me to believe that. There is a LOT of convince written into the plot. Like, “Oh, he never looked there so this whole story could happen”. A lot of it feels forced.

There is a fun little bit at the end that gives an excerpt from the all important journal. Kind of a nice touch.

That being said, despite my let down that this would be an amazing use of a good premise, it’s not a bad read. It’s engaging, the premise is able to carry a lot of the story, and even though it’s predictable it’s never boring.

Metrics

Art: 5/10 (Not major publisher grade. Does ok.)

Lettering: 6/10 (Decent)

Plot: 3/10 (Simplistic and predictable)

Novelty: 7/10 (Good enough to carry the story)

Overall: 5.25/10

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C.U.P.I.D.S

117333-thumb140C.U.P.I.D.S

Staff: Charlie McCarrick, Carlos Gomez, Francisco Perez, and Albert Deschesne

Overview:

I’m in love.

Review:

So first off, the art on this book is amazing. It is very much in opposition to the more traditional Jack Kirby of art we see so frequently in modern comics. It’s very sleek and very digital. They used the space of their panels very well and the artist has a GREAT sense of color. The characters are expressive, utilize dynamic poses, and make good use of their motion.

Another thing worthy of note is that even though we have a LOT of female characters, they don’t look like Barbie doll. Their proportions are deformed, but not into some crazy unrealistic standard of beauty. They are still attractive and confident. Way to go!

The story is novel, involving greek epics, a big of scifi, and war. It’s a big thing to expect from a story with a cheesy name like C.U.P.I.D.S. I don’t think I’ve laughed thus far at a comic and this one was really the first time I did. It’s got a quirky, modern, sense of humor that appeals to the Joss Whedon fan in me. It takes the concept of cupid shooting arrows into lovers and blows it up into a James Bond/Kim Possible-esque adventures for a more mature audience (a few swears were dropped into it).

I dug the characters. They had personalities, they had flaws, they had quirks, they had little details in their personality. Finally! Someone who can write a decent character I can emotionally invest in! I actually enjoyed the villain and the first issue left me wanting more. I know my rule is “one and done” for comic series, but I might have to read more of this.

One of my only gripes is that the lettering is really small. I had to blow it up to read it correctly. But that’s a single sour drop in an ocean of wonderful, so don’t let that detract from it.

Metrics

Art: 10/10 (Come for the art, stay for the story)

Lettering: 5/10 (A little small. Otherwise good.)

Plot: 8/10 (I said stay for the story right?)

Novelty: 9/10 (Finally something NEW and not based on “So there are these superheroes…”)

Overall: 8/10

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One-Man Preview


116043-thumb140
One-Man Preview

Staff: Paul Johnson and Benjamin J. Kreger

Overview:

Thought it would suck. Totally wrong.

Review:

I gotta admit that I totally went into this book saying, “Oh man… a good stinker I can rip apart!” and well… I was wrong. The art style is quirky and bizarre, but it works. We’re quickly dropped into an alien society filled with rich details, races, conflict, and humor. The lettering worked and was very legible. There are a few cliches played for humor, but they are more lamp-shaded then used in earnest. I am not entirely sure of the connection between the aliens and our bearded protagonist, but it was a short little preview. From what I saw- I liked. I don’t know if it’s my style, but it defiantly has that je ne sais quoi that a lot of indy comics today are missing.

Metrics

Art: 9/10 (Quirky but expressive and a lot of fun)

Lettering: 6/10 (I can read it and it was good)

Plot: 7/10 (Nothing new, but the universe is rich)

Novelty: 7/10 (The art style speaks a lot to this)

Overall: 7.25/10

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True North

113833-thumb140True North

Staff: Greg Boucher and Guillermo Hansz

Overview:

Tired concept, luke-warm execution, but still worth a read.

Review:

So I’m gonna start this with the art. It’s never outright bad, but it gets real close sometimes. An awkward perspective here, a bad shadow there, and little things are in this comic. It’s styalized I suppose, so I won’t harp on it to much but sometimes the characters are drawn a little weirdly. The lettering is pretty uninspired. It doesn’t do anything for me but it’s legible and I suppose, so it does what it needs to. It should be noted that Guillermo Hansz, the artist, has a fantastic grap of dynamic posing and frames his motion very well. You can see the understanding of anatomy in every shot he draws, despite some of the awkward posses and facial expressions (which can be really creepy…). There are also a few reused panels which I though was in poor taste (see page 21).

The story really leaves me kind of confused. Like I get the idea behind it (which has been done to death), but it all feels like someone’s attempt to cram as many “cool” characters into a story. Sure they all have personalities and whatnot, but it feels less like that is a result of genuine good writing and more because they all fit their stock superhero archetypes. You have the outsider protagonist, the tough vixen cat girl, the suave lancer, future love interest, etc. The plot is basically superheroes are outlawed and people hate them. A bar is home to a group of them and after a run in with some thugs, he joins them.

There is some real thought behind this, however it’s execution often falls flat. There is a scene where a bunch of anti-superhero skinheads are picking on a superhero and their allusion to being like Nazis is handled with all the subtlety of a brick going though a window during Kristallnacht. Some of the dialogue is handled about as well. It seems a lot like the characters are instantly familiar with each other of the get-go with some minor stock conflict to bog it down.

A kind of interesting feature is that the comic gives you music suggestions for different scenes. It’s very scream-o and, while it fits with the comic, isn’t really my flavor. You can see a lot of inspiration came from that sort of music in this comic (heck, the main character looks like he might open for one of those bands mentioned). At least their is some novelty in that.

I won’t say it’s not worth your time, it is, but sometimes I wish they had opted to go for a more polished approach. There are two blank pages at the end of the PDF which I assume are meant to be filled because the scene just kind of runs into a wall and stops. Hey… it’s free. Give it a look.

Metrics

Art: 7/10 (Sytalized, but never outright bad)

Lettering: 5/10 (No innovation but you can read it)

Plot: 4/10 (Nothing new but a decent set up)

Novelty: 5/10 (Plot is tired but at least they had that song gimmick)

Overall: 6/10

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Update

After my review the publisher added the last two pages into the comic. Check it out!

Division M

Division M

Staff: Joe de Lima and Rafa Lee

Overview:

Same old anti-superhero agency. Only this time they speak in psudo-English!

Review:

This only thing I can imagine is that this comic was written by someone who doesn’t speak English as their primary language. The very first text bubble doesn’t make much sense. It’s quickly followed by psudo-English for the remainder of the comic. Words are simply missing from sentences (“It seems star wars’ stuff.”) I think I was able to get the jist of it.

In terms of lettering, things are fine until they get sloppy and cut off a word or two.

As near as I can tell, someone outlawed superheroes and the two main characters work for Division M.

The art goes from pretty cool to total junk. Inconsistencies in the physical characteristics of the characters does little to help this (example: One of the meta humans has blue eyes which turn to light green ones). Some pages (like page 10) clearly have a few hand drawn pieces superimposed on a digital matte background and have the basic drop shadow effect on it. It gives the impression that everything is floating and the perspective is always a bit off. It’s the mix of digital and hand drawn elements that clash so angrily that make the artwork look sloppy. There is some real potential here, but it’s a vision only halfway realized. A lot of it looks like some concept art or maybe a storyboard that someone tossed some color on.

In terms of the premise, it’s sadly been done before. SHIELD, STAR Labs, Task Force X, Checkmate, SWORD, Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, MIB, etc. I dare say it’s been done to death. This is nothing new and has nothing unique about it down to the types of superpowers they encounter.

Metrics

Art: 3/10 (Not offensively bad)

Lettering: 5/10 (Nothing special. A few slip ups)

Plot: 3/10 (Couldn’t understand most of it due to grammar)

Novelty: 1/10 (Nothing new under the sun)

Overall: 3/10

 

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