Staff: Joshua Metzger, Grzegorz Pawlak, Ryan Burt, E.T Dollman, Marcell Mitchell-Hicks
A pretty middle of the road noir superhero comic.
Hey guys- sorry it’s been awhile (I’m a full time graduate student finishing up my last courses). Anyway, today I’m going to give you a brief review of Villain #1 but Evoluzione Publishing Just a quick look at the cover gives us the promise of a solid superhero noir so let’s jump on in.
Sidenote: I did not review the 10 or so pages of “Mongrel” but it looks rather more interesting visually. I may get to that in a later review but it looked so different I would have done it a disservice by combining the two into one review.
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:
Villain tries really hard to be dark and I don’t know if it needed to try that hard- especially in the dialogue. A lot of truncated slang and harsh language that really seems a little forced to be honest. It doesn’t feel “real” like this was something the person doing the dialogue really understands (throwing in phrases like “caper” next to “amature shit”). It seems like they were trying to mimic a style/tone rather than telling a story and letting it’s style determine the aesthetic.
Most of the characters didn’t really grab me. We had lots of stock tropes embodied but not to any end other than for familiarity. It feels like a real tone deaf move to put such two dimensional characters like Guardian in a genre like noir where investment in characterization and emotional investment are such a key.
The comic is rife with things like this. We have a guy kill a girl at one point but he does it… “because he’s evil”? Even if he’s a serial killer, that fact alone isn’t enough to explain his actions. They are motivated by something. There is pathos behind their actions. It’s like they are fishing with no (emotional) bait on the line. It feels like things happen because that’s the way they “happen like that in a noir” (or a superhero comic) not because of good writing or intended development of a theme or message.
Gil, the central character, did grow on me. In the later third of the comic we get some character development for him and it’s damn good. His background is probably the closest thing we have to a real big idea (it’s been done before but it does it well here) and the best representation of the author’s understanding of the genre’s emotional investment requirements.
Ultimately, with me, this just failed to impress. I’ve read a dozen like this and it doesn’t do anything new with either the noir setting or the characters themselves. I found myself bored by the midpoint waiting for the big ideas to hit and was kind of sad when they didn’t. It’s pretty run of the mill. There is a real lack of understanding of the genres not in terms of appreciation but in terms of implementation. Art’s about average and, while tonally appropriate, doesn’t rise above the skill of its artist. It’s not an offensively bad comic, not by any measure, but it’s not something I’d be looking to snag further issues of.