Staff: Lee S Dresner and Juan Chavarriga
An intriguing and novel premise.
So today’s main course is Fates Abound by Lee S Dresner and Juan Chavarriga. This one is a doozy so read all the way through the review. There are a few missed steps, but in the end it’s worth the wait.
The first thing that hits me is the rush set up of the first two pages. We get some very knee jerk plot points on the first few pages. We are introduced to our protagonist, he breaks up with his GF, and he immediately makes the decision to move to the “ghetto”. I kind of find it odd to simple refer to a place as a ghetto. I mean normally you’d call it something like, “the 4th street projects” or something. In this case, we are only told he moved to “ghetto”.
The comic itself then kind of winds us though some world building, but again it feels almost like it is out of place. I don’t really get a sense of the plot by page 7 and it feels like we are just watching the protagonist’s day to day routine. That is not to say it can’t be done well, but it totally kills the pacing. On my first read though I got bored. Yeah there were some cool visuals but the plot didn’t grab me… because there was no plot. There was just a guy going about his daily routine. No end goal, no challenge to overcome, no direction.
The comic picks up during chapter 3 (where we get some hints about the plot) and really gets into full swing by chapter 4. It takes a while to pick up, but ultimately it starts to tackle some complex issues so the build up chapters are understandable. I don’t know if they were handled in the best way, but I can see why they were there.
We dive into some pretty deep quantum mechanics that the layman won’t get. While this is being explained, we get hit with a wall of text (seriously- some of the largest dialogue balloons I’ve seen… check out page 22). The concept is very interesting (involving the many worlds theory and the potential multiple outcomes to exist until viewed by an observer, which forces the existence of one reality or another). This is a super unique premise that deserves to be in a much more wide stream medium then this (not that this is a bad one). We get a great one line summary of the premise of this comic on page 33
The dialogue feels a bit stale sometimes. We get these expository lines (“Congratulations… You’re one of the youngest people to earn a PHD in the field of quantum mechanics.”) that don’t feel like they’d come out of the mouth of a person. Comics, being a visual medium, don’t always require heavy exposition. For example, a simple picture of a younger looking man next to an older looking man with a diploma in quantum mechanics would inform the reader just as much without being as expositional. However, when we get a bit of a back and forth between characters we have some really solid writing. Quips and narrative directed line delivery shine here. We get some characterization via speech, and I felt I could identify with the characters. A few clumsy lines or fragments slip in (“your not much older than me but…”) which seems rather expositional, but despite a few missed brushstrokes, the overall painting turns out pretty well.
The art and character design overall is strong and lends itself a great deal to the world this comic is trying to make. This comic makes great use of contrast and value, doing it entirely in black and white but making it feel like there is color. The dark pallet that the use for the most part really speaks to the cyberpunk soul this comic has. However, everything changes on page 24 (in a good way). We get some very eerie, bizarre, but full color art. The style and color pallet remind me of Picasso’s Blue Period and the net result is straight up FANTASTIC. We swing from a very down to earth drull pallet to this explosive insanity for a few vivid pages and then are brought crashing back down like the character is. Excellent direction on the part of the creators here.
Lastly, lets look at the lettering. The typography of this comic varies. The dialogue bubbles work and the text is very slick and readable. However, the in-art text was clearly done with some sort of very basic program. (Example: See page 4-5). It is a little distracting and doesn’t do the rest of the art justice. However, this misstep it is far and few between.
So let’s filter out a reality here where this gets a good review (trust me, the ones where it doesn’t are potentially fewer than the ones where it gets a good one). The story takes a while to pick up and this is definitely an effort by someone who hasn’t worked in comics before. However, the heart of the comic is really something else. Despite some novice mistakes, this is a real diamond in the rough. Give this team time to grow and we could see something astounding. I love the unique premise, the kind of themes it has the balls to tackle, and the way it dives into it feet first. I keep shoveling though shitty indie comics in hopes of finding a gem like this. My hats off to the creators.
For those looking to get into the comic industry, Lee writes an excellent little afterwards regarding the path he had to take to bring this comic to life. It’s a must read for any newbie and it shows the kind of trailblazing he had to do to bring this to a completed state.
Overall, I’m looking forward to reading the next chapters when they come out. Give this bizarre gem a read- you won’t be disappointed.