Edison Thomas Saves the World
Staff: Kevin Hill
A fun, if not flawed, pulpy super-genius comic.
Today I have “Edison Thomas Saves the World” from Hyperactive Comics. It’s presented as a one-shot comic about a 19 year old super genius battling a inter-dimensional being. Without saying any more about it, let’s jump in!
So this is actually done by a trained hand… I think. It’s definitely not high enough quality to call it “professional” but you are not left visually guessing at what’s going on. It really harkens back to the old pulp style comics that were popular in the golden and silver age and I love it. Very clean lines, thick strokes, etc. There are the occasionally poorly drawn panel, facial expression, or the like but on the whole it’s decent.
Now there are some serious technical issues that a little experience will fix. For example, a lot of this looks scanned in or drawn by hand. When you have something like that in a digital format, you need to clean it up. For example, if on page 3 of the PDF you look at the bottom right panel you can see the strokes from where it was filled in. This can be easily fixed by doing something like selecting black’s color range in a program like Photoshop, then doing an auto-fill to replace it with digital black (same can be done for white too).
In addition to that this comic suffers from a lack of professional layout standards. For example- the edges of the bounding boxes of each panel doesn’t quite line-up with each other. If you are going to offset panels- do it for a reason. This is just sloppy work that something like a ruler could have fixed.
The dialogue balloons are passable, if not a little cramped at time (never let your text touch the edges). Text within dialogue balloons should be done in a vaguely “diamond” shape so it best fits in the shape of the balloon. They remember to do that on occasion but just as often seem to forget and cram words into the balloons.
There are also a few odd capitalization errors (example: page 6 of the PDF has this line, “My Patented “Steel Jacket Restrainer” should keep him out of Trouble!!”) as well as some grammar errors (“one of his arch nemesis…” should be “one of his arch nemeses” for example).
Now one thing I want to talk about are the onomonopias. They are a mess. So, in comics, an onomatopoeia is unbounded text which is rendered in such a way that it is reflective of the sound being made (having a burning noise illustrated as if it were burning, having a “pew pew” of a laser gun look scifi, etc). It should be drawn into the comic by the artist (inker) rather than added in later by the person doing the layout. They can use the shape of the words to indicate the kind of sound, it’s direction, and where it is originating from. We get some REALLY poorly done ones in this comic (like the “Balooey!!” on page 1). They are able to produce a good one later on (page 16 of the PDF) so it confuses me why they are so poor at other times.
Writing / Story:
The dialogue is stilted. My frequent readers will note that I have a special, soft, spot for campy or pulpy comics but this doesn’t fall into that category. It’s just bad. They lay out the plot in dialogue- a major sin in comics. Remember- comics are both a visual and literary medium. You can use one or the other as a substitute for its counterpart. When a hero punches out the villain you don’t need him to say, “Wow! I knocked him out with one punch!” at the same time as showing it and that’s exactly what this comic does. It’s just panels of expository dialogue explaining what is going on in the panel.
The plot itself serves to set up Edison Thomas and his supporting cast. The first part of the comic does a good job establishing the rules of his universe. Shakespeare this is not, but it tells a coherent story and as a one-shot whose goal was to establish the character for use in a larger cross-over initiative it does it’s job. Edison Thomas (not to be confused with Thomas Edison or anything) fits snuggly into the super-genius archetype ala Reed Richards, Dr. Quest, Hank Pym, etc and has a gadget for everything.
The second part is more concerned with dimensional obliteration. They do a fun bit with an alien world and their culture. I will say that they do some pretty big logic leaps and treat Edison’s intelligence as something of a omni-solution, pushing him awfully close to Gary Stu territory. See, the danger with that is that one could fall into the “a wizard did it”/ ”techno-jargon” kind of story telling. The reason we like to read “smart” characters (like Holmes) is because we get inside their heads and at the end they reveal how it was done. Without that pay off, the protagonist might as well have just said “abracadabra” and the problem was resolved. Like we are never told what a “buffer zone field” was and why it resulted in an “impenetrable sphere of solidified matter” or even what the enemy’s power really was (other than that it “drew power from the atmosphere”).
The second part is far better than the first- really telling a very “big” story in just 20ish pages, even if the story is told with just the broad strokes. To be honest- I kind of liked how it was told. If we got too much into the details it might have bogged it down. There were some parts I wished they’d explained a bit more (as mentioned above) but overall it worked.
Ultimately… if this wasn’t free I wouldn’t recommend it. However, as a free little comic, you could do worse. It gives you a big story in a small bite. It’s not going to change the world but it’s got heart if nothing else. Give it a read if pulpy super-genius stuff is your thing.
Post Review Note: So I noticed after I had finished this review that I had already reviewed something from Hyperactive Comics (Crunch) and it’s actually set in the same universe. I normally don’t review stuff from the same publisher but it’s not a hard and fast rule. Sorry about that!