The Not So Golden Age

The Not So Golden Age

Staff: Phil Buck and Joseph Freistuhler

Overview:

Golden aged, public domain, goodness on a whole new level.

Review:

For those of you who don’t know- I’m a huge proponent of the public domain. Short version: creators should maintain a hold on their work for a while then be subject to the market. Forcing DC to write better Batman series (yes- he would be in the public domain were it not for Mickey Mouse and Sonny Bono) because others are writing good stories too is not a bad idea.

 

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that “The Not So Golden Age” uses a number of public domain superheroes in it and shows us why it’s such a positive thing. The comic opens on a trailer park in Reno where 2 heroes and 1 villain, all retired, are living together. Honestly- that’s what got me. Love the golden age, love the setup, love the subversion.

 

The comic also REEKS of nostalgia- fake cheesy toy ads in the front of the book, those golden aged yellow and black narration boxes, that off-white color of the page *sniffle sniffle*, sorry but it’s just so perfect. My inner comic hipster is crying with joy.
But seriously. The tone established in this comic is top notch. I’ve never seen it does anywhere else and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A lot of the shortcomings of this comic can be forgiven due to its total commitment to the aesthetic. Like the lettering is a little cramped… but that is kind of how they did it back in the day.

 

Art:

If there is a shortcoming it’s in the art. It’s really a shame too. A lot of it is really just downright fantastic- great use of texture, shadow, perspective, and the character designs of the aging characters are really nailed in all their cheesy glory. However some of the scenes feel really awkwardly empty. A skybox left devoid of detail here, a weird visual set up there, an occasional untextured element to a scene that should totally have had texture, and a few other minor things. A lot of the exterior shots look really big and empty. Maybe that was intended to match the tone of the comic but it really just feels… I don’t know. Kind of like poser 3D artwork in that they don’t detail the entire scene- just the few characters in it. I feel like there should be something on the ground in the exterior shots that we are missing. So it’s a real hit AND miss. Like 90% of it is grade A awesome and that 10% tends to kill me now and again. This is probably because of how good the rest of it is that it stands out to me.

 

Writing / Story:

The writing however is glorious. A lot of pop culture references you immediately get, some genuine chuckles now and then where you laugh along with the characters, etc. Wasn’t psyched at the use of some chatspeak (WTF) but there was a 4th wall breaking joke I kinda of chuckled at. The reveal at the midpoint is pretty hilarious and the writer did a great job characterizing each trailer park tenant with only a few lines or a single scene (something professional writers often fail at).

There is a second story (the first story being titled A Golden Aged Murder)called “Not Another Death in the Family” (a reference to the infamous Batman “Death in the Family” storyline). It gets a little more parody-ish than the first, which I was not a big fan of. It basically does every sidekick trope out there, does a few parodies of batman poses and lines, and a few parodies of famous covers. I honestly wasn’t as big of a fan of this one as the first. It was a bit shorter and thought I cracked a smile, I didn’t get the same joy from this one as I did the first (too reliant on comic book meta I think).

 

Overall:

So all and all… read the shit out of this book. It’s got charm, laughs, a brain in a robot, and a lady with 47 cats who drinks box wine. What more could you want? Honestly though, this was a lot of fun to read. As a comic fan, I really loved a lot of the throw backs and in jokes (even when they got a little too thinly veiled) and the overall presentation was nothing short of fantastic. Give it a read.

 

Metrics:

Art: 6/10 [Liked it, didn’t love it]

Lettering: 6/10 [Very “golden aged” but had some golden age drawbacks too]

Plot: 7/10 [Genuine laughs. Relied a bit heavily on meta at time.]

Novelty: 10/10 [I loved the premise and presentation. Read for this alone if you must.]

Overall: 7.25/10

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Rok of the Reds

Rok of the Reds

Staff: John Wagner, Alan Grant, Dan Cornwell, Abby Bulmer, Jim Campbell

 

Overview:

Aliens, soccer, piss-drunk celebrities. In that order.

 

Review:

Today’s comic is Rok of the Reds. It’s got some pedigree behind it but I’m kind of setting that aside while I review it (I’ll talk about it at the end). I’m mostly just reviewing it because the first few pages had aliens, colliding planets, and soccer. (Note: I’m American so I’ll be calling what everyone else calls “football”, “soccer”)

 

Art:

Top class. This is a full color one with a lot of love put into every image. From the facial images to the color pallet it’s a gem. I won’t talk too much on this, I normally only do that when there is something wrong, but suffice it to say that it is nothing shy of professional grade. There is a lot of individual characterization put into the face of each person, giving us some real insight visually into characters. They do well with the bigger scenes too- showing a real knowledge of scope and perspective in some key shots that I really enjoyed.
There were a few things I didn’t like. Minor things. A few instances of some more deformed/cartoony proportions pop out of nowhere with human characters (it’s something with some of the eyes I think), some minor proportional issues, and the way they portray lights is a little weird. Nothing that ruins the comic by any stretch- just minor things that bothered me.

 

Lettering / Layout:

These guys know how to layout a page. There is good use of page space and the flow between panels is visually stimulating and befitting the scenes they are in. They had drawn in onomatopoeia, which I like (when the typesetter does it it always looks forced and out of place) and didn’t just do standard page divisions.

 

Writing / Story:

There is some good dialogue here and there. None of the normal nit-picky things. I’m personally not as big of a fan of the pacing. The intro picks up steam but then the next scene kind of drags on bit a bit without a solid connection to the intro. It wraps itself up nicely at the second act but until it gets there it feels rather slow. I suppose it’s meant to be there to give us some characterization for the protagonist, which it does well but I felt it kind of dawdled there. The end feels a little rushed pacing wise but sets up for a good continuing series. This is a comic I wish I had the 2nd issue of because it kind of feels like I have half of a story. It kind of introduces the characters and sets the stage but the plot doesn’t really go anywhere until the last 5 pages or so.

 

Overall:

Art is 1st rate, story suffers from “first issue” syndrome, but it’s saved by a very cool premise.  John Wagner and Alan Grant are the minds behind this (Judge Dredd) and their skill as writers show. They have a real solid grasp of the mechanics of the crafts and I’d like to have seen how the first narrative arc played out before I really give any criticism to the pacing of the comic (again- I only do first issues so I see this a lot and get it). Aliens, soccer, piss-drunk celebrities- it’s going to be a wild ride. Give it a read.

 

Metrics:

Art: 8/10 [Professional]

Lettering: 7/10 [Professional and makes creative use of some elements.]

Plot: 6/10 [Good dialogue, has “First Issue Syndrome” when it comes to pacing]

Novelty: 8/10 [Aliens, soccer, and piss-drunk celebrities. Need I say more?]

Overall: 7.25/10

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