Staff: Brian Hawkins
A psychological thriller that falls kinda flat.
I Am Michael Watcher by Brian Hawkins is next up in the good ol’ review queue. I know a few other reviewers have done this one (check out a few over at GoodReads or on J53518’s review on YouTube) but I skipped reading/watching them for this comic to make sure I could formulate my own opinions. So that being said, let’s dive right into “I Am Michael Watcher”.
The art, to be honest, reminds me of an art student. It has a lot of texture and detail in SOME things. It lends itself to this cliche where there tends to be the characters involved and some object to give us perspective but other wise we are only treated to an uninspired background. There are some occasional minor oversights in terms of perspective but nothing super major, however the death by a thousand cuts is often worse than one fell blow. It all adds up to feeling like this was drawn by an art student rather than some kind of professional. Nothing wrong with it, just nothing impressive. There are also some very ugly facial expressions that suffer from accentuated realism that gets applies to a character’s face when the artist is too focused on the facial details (example: see the bottom right panel of page 10). I’m happy to report however that the lettering is just fine and looks quite professional.
The characters, when we finally get to them, are pretty lively. I like the down to Earth take they have on college life (and relationships during college in particular) and the personality they exude. I don’t want to say that they dwell too much on it- but I felt like saying, “just get on with it already” a few times. The dialogue walks the line between unnecessarily explanatory (“I don’t know who this is?” “My roommate”) and relatively realistic dialogue between two people.
While the pacing suffers, it isn’t a bad story overall. It has enough there to keep you guessing but it didn’t invest me in the world/stakes as much as I’d hoped. Maybe I’m jaded by CSI and Law & Order, but it felt a little contrived at times. That’s not to say it doesn’t have good points, it really does real quite well and it’s worth the read (maybe TV is just a better medium for murder mystery?). If it has a flaw though, it is that it really is one of those comics that crawls near the end (for the second half of the comic) and rushes in the beginning. You can tell the direction it is going but by the end of it you are just flipping pages to make sure you are right.
Ultimately the only word that comes to mind with this comic is “harmless”. It’s not bad, but I don’t think it will make it to be top of 2014 list either. I feel like the comic could have been made better by cutting the page count in half (example: The entire struggle on the first pages could be done in three or four panels relatively well) and moving the plot more in the first issue. An increased reliance on visual storytelling could have also benefited the piece and allowed it to retain an air of mystery. As it stands, they spell everything out with painful detail in heavy dialogue.
In conclusion, it’s worth a read if horror/mystery is your thing. I’d recommend you give it a read but suggest you buy the first two or three issues if you are going to get into it.