Resistor

Resistor

Staff: Wes Allen

Overview:

A well done, but ultimately forgettable, political drama

Review:

So I got hit up about a month back to read Resistor and I’m going to give it a review today! I’m not a big fan of political dramas but this one has some pretty cool real world parallels. Anyway, let’s dive right into it!

Art

Cover is cool kind of “iPad” style color scheme. The interior art is very different than the cover but isn’t bad by any stretch. It’s certainly not “big publisher professional”, but it has it’s own charms. A lot of the scenes are well composed visually and the artistic style tends to favor a very crowded approach to composition (which works well). There is a weird stylistic thing with the way artists depict jaws in this one, but I am gonna give it a pass because it seems intentional and part of the comic’s visual style rather than an error.

Lettering

The text can be very hard to read at times. The credits page had a hard-on-the-eyes font and the first page’s “hooray” were transparent over a complex background (without a dialogue box). I guess this is the style they were going for, but it comes out very jumbled and difficult to read. Elsewhere the text is legible but is made small in some panels and larger in others. When it gets small, it gets very tricky to read and I had to blow it up a bit with a digital zoom to read it. On page 13 we have this wall-o-text that comes from a radio that could have probably have been condensed by making it more succinct. There is also this disconnect between font written in and the drawn background. Sometimes the perspective/shadow doesn’t match up because it was added after (on signs for example).

Story

One thing that bothers me is that it takes this comic 10 pages to get into the story. We are given exposition in the form of a political rally before we get to a single line a dialogue from a character. We don’t seem to have a “main story” going by half way though the comic and it does feel a bit like a comic that has a good story to tell but doesn’t give you enough of a unified perspective to allow you to identify with any particular character. I mean we get that this political party is bad and that life sucks under its rule but I don’t empathize with any of the characters. It’s such a fragmented story that I can’t seem to really pin down what it’s about on a narrative level. By the end of it there is a larger story taking place but not enough in this issue to grab me in the mean time.

Overall

Overall, it’s a nice attempt but fails to deliver on anything more than a basic level. It’s not a bad comic but it’s not one that will stand out in my mind as a highlight of the year or anything. Maybe if the narrative direction was a bit more focused or the plot point more succinct it could have made for a good first issue.

 

Metrics

Art: 4/10 (Good but not pro quality)

Lettering: 3/10 (Some good, some pretty bad)

Plot: 4/10 (A few good notes but unfocused)

Novelty: 5/10 (How many political drama comics do you see?)

Overall: 4/10

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Super Inc., Villain’s Edition (Vol 2)

Super Inc., Villain’s Edition

Staff: Aghori Shaivite

Overview:

A comic that tries to be a mafia story and a super villain story and fails at both.

Review:

This is a long one so I am going to break it down by chapter. To start with we get a very nice, succinct, flavorful intro that established the developer’s intent and the world in which the character’s live.

 

As it jumps into chapter 1, I am not sure if we are getting some sort of meta-humor or if this is an established “thing” in the universe of the comic. A villain is asking for space in a comic anthology from a woman. Now they keep having these references to issue #1 in the comic, which I was assured I wouldn’t have had to read. 10 pages in and I still feel lost. I have no idea what is going on. Best I can figure, this super villain is bugging some staff member at a comic company to be included in an issue. The chapter ends and I’ve still got no idea what that was all about. Was it a meta-gag? Was it a in-universe comic company and it has something to do with these “saints of death” the forward tells us about?

 

Overall the art isn’t outright bad but it doesn’t rise high enough to be called “good”. While the biology, proportions, and expressions are well enough, each panel seems to have one or two really odd/creepy errors in it. Like on page 7 one of the panels has this woman with creepy, lipless, teeth (only in that panel) and then the eyes of other characters seem to be drawn differently on occasion.

Chapter 1 wasn’t my cup of tea I guess. Oh well, let’s read chapter 2.

 

The second chapter has a different art style that I actually like. It kind of has that art deco/Andy Warhol/retro look to it and that’s something I can really dig. It’s up there with some of my favorite comic art that I’ve reviewed. It’s a night and day difference from the first chapter’s sloppy art style but it makes me wonder why they didn’t just use this style in the first place. I can follow this story and it does live up to the mobster-esque theme and inspiration promised in the forward. It does kind of begin and end rather quickly and is really a contextless vignette which kind of detracts from the overall appeal of it but it showcased some fantastic art direction so I suppose it served its purpose.
Chapter 3 against switches art styles on us to a more American comic book art style, though with some oddly flat tones. It looks like the artist is like 75-90% of the way to doing good art but there are still some awkward lines and stock poses that don’t really lend themselves to the scene compositions. It feels like this is an artist attempting to mimic a style he/she doesn’t draw all the time or at least is fresh off the boat with that style. For all the crap I just gave it though, it’s pretty solid. The use of dutch and high angle shots is excellently used and even the speed lines work to the comic’s advantage.
Chapter 4 goes back to a style with similar quality to that of chapter 1 (if not worse) and it’s a real sharp contrast in quality. After seeing the excellent art in chapter 2 and the great use of angels in chapter 3, this stuff is forced upon us again? What’s wrong? Could the production company not afford to pay a decent artist to do the entire thing? I think one of the biggest issue with the comic is the inconsistent tone and art style that is REALLY distracting.

 

Chapter 4 has this awkward issue that a lot of modern indie artists have. They don’t draw the backgrounds really. They draw the character and the background separate. This leads to an almost “cutout” feel to the comic and subtly screws with perspective (the characters and the backgrounds don’t always mix well). For a good example of this we can look at page 33. The nurse and doctor look like they are blood deflated sex dolls! Like 2 dimensional cardboard cutouts tossed against the inside of a textured cube. The artist uses the SAME texture over and over for backgrounds and just changes the color. As a reader I can’t help but notice it and it really doesn’t look very professional.

Anyway, back to the plot of chapter 4. I am totally lost as to what is going on even a few pages in. I don’t know who Simon is and why I should care about him or what he has to do with Dom from the last chapter (as this is basically “chapter 3, part 2” according to the title). It takes a few pages for the reader to get back to the guy who’s name is in the title and it was a little disruptive to the narrative flow I felt. It basically talks about how they resurrected a drug lord as a supervillain.
Chapter 5 again switches artists (I wish they would stick with one good one…) and we get some decent artwork. Not groundbreaking, but when compared to the rest of the comic it’s one of the better drawn chapters. There is this odd tonal shift from Martin Scorsese-esque drug drama with realistic characters to campy super-villain stuff and it doesn’t pass smoothly. It’s a rocky road and it isn’t handled well. We have a character, Dom, who goes from dressing like a legitimate human being with some street smarts to a underwear on the outside supervillain who says “aarrrg”. Oh yeah, he’s vaguely “pirate” themed because… reasons. His love interest says “oh he liked the jolly roger flag” and thus- he’s pirate themed. Wow. Talk about a jolting transition. I almost wish this comic was just about the drug conflict and not some knock off version of the superfriend’s “Legion of Super-Villains”. Then they give legitimate drug pushers and street thugs super villain names and it goes over right as rain? Kill me now. This comic had promise of being a good one. Why!?
Chapter 6’s art style is akin to the style in chapter 5 (definitely a different artist though). The plot revolves around the attack on a compound where Dom gets his revenge. We see his love interest again here and… god… she just looks so camp-tastic as well. I can’t get over that. There were some serious missteps in the character design department here. I feel like this comic went from the shootout scene in Godfather to the monarch’s lair from Venture Brothers really fast.
Chapter 7 (the epilogue) probably has the worst art in the entire comic and introduces a new character that teases at the next comic. I’m going to leave it at that and just remember the good parts of this comic.

Ok so now that the recap is out of the way let’s look at things in broader strokes:

God there was some awful font choices in this comic. The forward was fine but then you get to this page with a map of “the world states” and it’s a wonder I can discern what anything says. It is not easy on the eyes and is a major pain in the butt to read. Most of the time it’s fine but when they try to get fancy, it just doesn’t work (See “The Origin of Cap. Death”). There are a few times when the letters get pretty close to the edge of the dialogue balloons but I don’t think I can remember any time where it made it particularly hard to read. The lettering would have flowed better if whoever was doing the lettering took advantage of doing a diamond pattern with their text rather than a left align. Some of the shout balloons look like they were just quickly made with a pen tool and don’t have that professional edge to them. The onomatopoeia varies from chapter to chapter but it’s pretty phoned in. An onomatopoeia should be text that visually indicated the sound (an echo should trail off, a whisper can be ghastly in color and transparent). Overall, this comic could probably benefit from a legitimate letterer.

 

On a technical level, I’ll point out in hat whoever did the layout/formatting had some technical issues. The pages are centered on the page over a black background with the page number to the bottom right of the bottom most panel. However, sometimes the white background has the page number as well, has “CapNDeath” written on it, and sometimes nothing at all. It’s like the clipping varies from page to page and chapter to chapter. It is kind of distracting.

 

Overall this is a busy, squandered, comic. It keeps shifting artists which makes it rather difficult to really settle on a tone and what starts out as something that has promise ends up being thrown to the campy wolves. If it had been one or the other, this comic would not just have been good but great. Instead we have a hodge podge of maffia themes and characters thrown in with campy super villains and the result is a soupy tasteless mess.

 

Metrics

Art: 3/10 (While a few chapters had good art, the average overall is poor)

Ch1: 2/10, Ch2: 9/10, Ch3: 5/10, Ch4: /10, Ch5: 5/10, Ch6: 5/10, Ch7: 1/10

Lettering: 3/10 (Some poor font choices and layout issues present a very unprofessional comic)

Plot: 4/10 (YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE!  It was said that you would destroy the cliches, not join them! Bring balance to Comics, not leave it in darkness!)

Novelty: 5/10 (Know what? It’s never been done before. It fell flat but at least you tried.)

Overall: 3.75/10

 

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The Spirit and The Shadow

The Spirit and The Shadow

Staff: Thomas Lavalle and Brandon Swope

Overview:

A vampire detective story with terrible art.

Review:

Ok so today I’ll be looking at “Spirit & Shadow”. It’s a vampire detective comics that promises to intrigue. “Book 1” consists of several “nights”. As I review only the first issue of things, I will be reviewing only Night #1. Let’s jump in!

First things that grabs me is the art of this comic. It’s hard to ignore. Honestly, I haven’t seen art this bad since my Surreal Murder Mysteries review. It’s bad enough that it is offensive. Like even things like Tim & Lynne or Screw Phillips had a decent attempt at it and I Am Michael Watcher showed some promise. This is just bad. It feels like someone drew over some reference pictures poorly sometimes and other times they just wholesale crop images from other places (see the neck’s “wound” on page 10). Sometimes they just re-used illustrations from previous pages and just swap the backgrounds (see page 1 and page 22). Other than just poor overall line work, we have some disproportional body parts and odd need to MOSTLY use black, white, grey, and red (which is SUPERsaturated, like 255 red). I think this color pallet could have been pulled off (check out how The Zoo Act did it!) but it wasn’t utilized really poorly here. They also have this odd need to entirely black out people who have any shadow on them. This reduces them to black profiles with a slight gradient on that. Lighting is a large part of how you dress a scene (here is a link to some of the basics of lighting) and can drastically effect the mood of a scene.

The layout is… novel at least. It reads more like a graphic novel than a comic (which is totally fine). The layout is a white background with some legible font choice. I would have suggested something not too stiff and maybe something a little more “comicy” (free form, hand written, etc) as it is dialogue and the one they used looks more like a standard word processor font. The overall effect looks more like they didn’t want to or didn’t have the budget/time to do a “full” comic and just opted to do a simpler format. It looks really unprofessional. It should be noted that near the end of night 1 it gets close to doing something like a “comic” style but it’s too little too late.

The story saves it somewhat. It’s a pretty standard police procedural, but that doesn’t mean it’s automatically a bad story. I love cop dramas and the added vampire twist was a lot of fun. It did feel a bit shoehorned in sometimes; “it’s a cop story BUT with vampires!” was the pitch I’d imagine. However, if you ignore the art the characters are pretty identifiable and the story rather rich.

Overall, I’d skip this one. There is such a thing as perspective, as positioning, as emoting, as detail, as using visuals to tell a story! None of this is there. It feels like stock images used to technically qualify this as a “comic”. This would probably be a decent novel or short story if it was written like that but it really don’t work in the visual medium they attempted here. I can’t recommend this one.

Metrics

Art: 0/10 (Some of the worst I’ve reviewed)

Lettering: 2/10 (Poor layout choice that didn’t work)

Plot: 4/10 (Standard fare)

Novelty: 3/10 (This should shine some light on it)

Overall: 2.25/10

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Interesting Tymes

Interesting Tymes

Staff: Dave McCluskey and Andrew Morrice

Overview:

Tales from the crypt meets 2000s Cartoon Network.

Review:

I gotta admit, Interesting Tymes is not the sort of comic that normally falls in my wheelhouse and didn’t particularly interest me. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place and that you won’t like it. It’s definitely got an appeal to a certain demographic, but that demographic isn’t mine so please keep that in mind as you read this and forgive me for the rather short review.

Interesting Tymes has a cartoony art style that kind of reminds me of Cartoon Network’s animation style in the early 2000s and it’s not bad per say (it is definitely not a “big name comic style” by any stretch of the imagination). It works for what it is going for and when it’s good it’s good.

The plot of this comic is kind of a “Tales from the Crypt” style collection of 6 stories. I honestly didn’t connect with any of the tales as they were rather simplistic in terms of the content they covered- but when you are aiming at a younger demographic (as the art style implies) it’s a good choice. They had a bad kid/santa bit, one at sea, one involving clowns, another with little red, and a kind of generic “haunted house” story. All the stories had kind of a darker theme so Tales from the Crypt is an appropriate comparison (On a weird sidenote, I still don’t know what they title had to do with the story).

The lettering on this comic was unfortunate. There were a number of clipping errors with the characters, there were some less than clear fonts applied, and a few other little things. While we are harping on technical aspects of it, lets just pull off the bandaid. The comic had this issue where clipped parts of a page would appear on the far edge of the next page. This should have easily been caught with a quick look over and is probably an export error related to the definition of page borders.

Overall, while it’s definitely not in my wheelhouse it just feels like someone just kind of wrote these with no heart. I know that’s a mean thing to say and I’m sure a lot of time was invested into it but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It’s just a rehashing of old characters, themes, and topics that doesn’t amount to anything really new. If you are looking for a comic for a little boy to read, you could do worse. Give it a read!

Metrics

Art: 6/10 (Catroony but well done)

Lettering: 1/10 (Several technical issues and lettering choices plague this comic)

Plot: 5/10 (Competently written)

Novelty: 1/10 (Nothing new)

Overall: 3.25/10

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