A More Colorful Review – Sex Criminals

Reviewed by JustKay

OverviewZZ06C1C2D9

Ever wanted to make time stop while cumming? Well that is a very specific taste in powers but somehow I’ve found a comic series for you. Just don’t ask me how.

Review

On the docket is Sex Criminals Volume 1 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. Someone submitted this one to me to look over as it unabashedly took on the topics of sex, exploration, and weirdness. This one is a bit of a weird trip so make sure your parents aren’t looking over your shoulder cause we are about to jump into this sexy mess and see what’s up.

Writing

So they made the really weird choice of how to tell you the story. Pretty much constantly jumping back and forth between present and past without any clear line between the two alot of the time. While also sliding in the main character as she is in the present in the past to self narrate the story. If that sounded like a cluster fest then you are on the right track. The whole story is a jumbled ball of yarn that you have really no idea how to untangle.

1The characters for the most part are cardboard cut outs with some paint thrown on them for depth. They are a standard white cis couple who happen to have time stopping cum powers. That they then precede to use in childish and sometimes illegal ways. Not a whole lot of depth or character development there. And there few attempts to try by giving a tragic backstory to one and mental diagnoses to the other fall flat in an almost hilarious way.

Art

Truly the redeeming factor of this series so far. The art is very well done and I just love the way the portray the times where time is frozen. It gives a clear indication when its happening and when its started back up again. I also enjoy that they’ve taken some liberties with reality when it comes to some of the scenes in order to drive how the point that the writing seems to fall flat on.1641824

I feel like a broken record saying this some weeks but, standard comic font. Come on
people give me something else to work with~. I know its the standard cause its easy to read but it does nothing for your story or to give us insight into your characters. Thankfully at least the text bubbles where easy to follow, even if the same can’t be said about the story itself.

Diversity

Not really alot of diversity in the normal check boxes.. I will give them kudos for tackling the topics of sex and sexual experiences in a much more mature way then I’ve seen just about any other topic do. Not to say there isn’t humor, oh is there plenty of that. Low on the diversity scale though. The only bump I’m giving them is maybe the chance to portray some disorders down the line, but even that is riding on thin ice.

Overall

Its a weird ride with this series so far. Yeah it has an interesting concept but man did they not take the time to try and make it an easy thing to read. Lots of breaks and jumps in the story without any indication it was happening. Leading too me pausing and breaking myself out of the universe one to many times to check and see if it was another time jump. Art is fantastic though and lettering is readable. Despite the awkward writing I do suggest at least giving it a quick check out. Just maybe make sure you aren’t at work when you read it.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 7/10 [Lovely, really the redeeming quality]

Lettering: 6/10 [Standard fare]

Writing: 5/10 [Work on your editing please]

Diversity: 2/10 [Two white people, done]

Overall: 5/10

Nothing Man #1

Nothing Man

Staff: N.S Kane, John Rhodes, Steve Sprayson, Abbey Smith, Victor Munson, Acacia Munson

Overview:

A fairly generic superhero comic with a glimmer promise still to come.

Review:

Hey guys, ScottyG here with another review. Today I’ll be looking at Nothing Man #1 by Scattered Comics. As you guys know I’m big on superhero comics and I frequently see superhero comics devolve into mimicry rather than originality and I’m hoping this one avoids that trope So, let’s jump on in.

 

Art:

The art’s solid. While the character designs are a little generic but there is a lot of detail in the panels. This comic is full color which is kind of cool to see on something like this. I don’t know if I’d call this the best art I’ve ever seen, but it does it’s job and effectively conveys the story visually. Later in the comic, we get introduced to some more interestingly designed characters and some of them have very unique designs but off the bat the initial characters we are introduced to are fairly generic. I did like some of the risks they took, particularly with the fire crossing panel boundaries to visually convey that they are linked and, simultaneously, that the fire is engulfing. There are some minor anatomical discrepancies on characters on pages but I’ve seen worse; you never get characters confused visually.

The lettering is decent but in a few places ends up squeezing the dialogue a few times either by placement or simply not making large enough boxes. This isn’t a major faux pas and is largely just something a critic who pours over dozens of comics would pick up.

 

Writing / Story:

The dialogue in this book is mostly expositional rather than exploratory; that is to say that it doesn’t really do much for the story, just restates what is being communicated to us visually. If you took it away, you could still understand what was going on. This is a good example of a strong visual narrative in a comic and, at the same time, shows a distinct lack of utilization for the literary aspects of the comic. Creators often forget that comics are a hybrid medium- that the literary and visual aspects need to be in tandem rather than simply supportive.

A side note: the narration bugs me. It comes off as rather pretentious and amounts to really kind of a superficial statement. It also starts off as retrospective narration and ends up kind of switching to scene relevant dialogue at times.

The story itself is pretty generic and cliche. It’s about a Fabio-haired dude who wakes up in the forest with no memory and super powers while being chased by the military. However, the setting shows signs of promise. The later parts of this issue establish a kind of fun paradigm between humans and superpowered individuals. Essentially that supervillians run have taken over and now run Paradise City after a clash between a legendary hero and them. It’s a fun kind of totalitarian set up where we are introduced to some, sure to be relevant later on, creatively designed villains.

 

Overall:

Overall, it just barely escapes being that a super generic comic that I hate. On the one hand, it falls into a lot of traps that small publisher independent superhero comics often do (relying too much on the reader’s existing knowledge of superhero tropes, trying to do the big publisher thing with a large line up, etc) but on the other hand it actually tries a few new things. I don’t think this will be the number one, top selling, most engaging, industry-redefining, superhero comic run of the ages- but I think you could do a lot worse (actually… I’ve seen that many times so I KNOW it can be a lot worse).

 

Metrics:

Art: 7/10 [Pro level]

Lettering: 5/10 [Decent]

Plot: 4/10 [Mostly expositional dialogue]

Novelty: 5/10 [Reliant on cliches, except near the end]

Overall: 5.25/10

Link to Buy

Ladies of Market Street

Reviewed by JustKay

OverviewIMG_0646_unh7g8

Women fighting back with little context to start and seemingly lots of sex.

Review

Now that I’ve gotten my new review column established and going weekly you’ll also be seeing me take a swing at some of the submissions we get through our website. For that you’ll notice that the majority of how I judge a comic is the same, and I’ll still point out diversity (both where it falls flat and where it succeeds). But instead of being graded on it separately it will be rolled into writing and replaced by novelty. Something that all of the reviewers here at ICR look for when going through submissions. Without further ado lets take a look at ‘Ladies of Market Street’, written by Emily Whitaker and art by Trey Baldwin.

Writing

While its a stereotype that all women in sex work were forced into it, and this does follow that a bit, you can also see them choosing to do it themselves in a far safer environment. I’m not saying there aren’t people who are forced into it the line of work but within the bounds of this comic series it reads a little too heavy on that narrative. But given that since this line of work is illegal in the US, which can lead to some seriously shady characters in it, I’ll give it a pass as it uses it as a staple column in the story. However I will point out that the story itself in this issue is a bit muddled. We seem to start at the end and then jump back in time without context, or without a clear division between past and present. In fact I didn’t even realize it was the past I was reading until we get to the point where it almost loops back around.

IMG_0648_h7bgbmYou aren’t really told anything about the characters accept that one of them has this intense need to protect another that spurs her to go to all these crazy lengths. This lack of definition for the characters leaves them to come off a bit like cut out stereotypes in this issue. Hopefully the creators fill them in more as the series continues, as they are now they don’t really hold any interest for the reader. In fact in the story they are used as little more the sexual objects. Something I’d really hoped this series wouldn’t do. And I’d like to point out before you all get up in a flame war over that statement that there is a difference between sexual objectification and expressing your sexual nature. But this review is neither the time or the place for that discussion.

Art

The art styles exaggerated features and cartoonish vibe let the creators bring some levity on what could otherwise quickly become a rather gritty topic.  I mean the bad guy shown in the first few frames looks like Popeye for gods sake. Though a more twisted version of him but I could fall down that rabbit hole of what happened to Popeye to bring him to this dark place, so lets continue. The choice to leave the inside strictly in black and white was a bad idea though. It dropped the detail and distinctions of the characters that we saw in the colored cover and served to make the story all the more confusing. In actuality while leaving in black and white might have saved them production costs it was another hole in the storytelling that hurt the readers experience, and may in turn hurt their readership and any future sales.

Even here the standard comic font strikes again. Though they make the attempt to Market_Steet_pg_1_wieb3fdistinguish the narration for the dialog through the text bubbles if you aren’t super familiar with comics it would be lost on you. In some areas the bubbles are really small breaking up information into a ton of chunks where its not needed, in others they dump a massive amount of text into one bubble that blocks up large portions of their art. A little bit more planning ahead of time would easily remedy this for any future issues.

Novelty

So I can honestly say I haven’t seen a comic like this before. Its a clear story built around the idea of sex workers taking their power back. Though the story is a bit muddled, as I discussed in the writing section, you kind of catch up to what is going on about midway-ish through the issue. The juxtaposition between the content of the comic and its art style creates this unique playground for the creators to work in to tell the story without it becoming overly gritty or grotesque.

Overall

The art style balances out the writing and the topic to help create a more enjoyable read. However the writing is a little lackluster and leave the reader having to pause and reread to make sure they know what is going on. Though even then it leaves you questioning just what the heck is going on. Standard font and weird chunks of dialogue leading to a readable but sub-par lettering throughout the book. I’d still recommend it for a read but unless we see improvements down the road I wouldn’t put it on your comic pull list.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 6.5/10 [great style for story, B&W bad choice]

Lettering: 5/10 [standard font, weird chunks]

Writing: 6/10 [Muddled, time jumps, and cut outs]

Novelty: 8/10 [Got to say I haven’t seen it before]

Overall: 6.38/10

Grand Opening

Grand Opening

Staff: Jensen Rong and Hojin Chung

Overview:

Trippy, wonderful, adult humor.

Review:

So today I’m looking at Grand Opening by Jensen Rong and Hojin Chung. It’s got a bit of adult humor so skip it if you have virginal sensabilities. Now- I don’t want to spoil the pure, weird, joy you’ll get from this comic so I’m going to encourage you to go and read it before even reading the review. If you want a mini review, “It’s good and damn funny- go read it.”. However, if you need more- let’s jump on in.

Art:

The art is very simplistic and clean with a distinctly eastern vibe. It’s great for the concept and looks solid throughout. Now keep in mind that “simple” doesn’t mean “bad” or “unskilled”. In fact, I’d argue that a clear, clean, concise art style is harder to pull off than a more freehand style and this owns it’s style the entire way though. If it has a weakness the lettering is a little over-simplistic and raw, even for this comic’s art style. Sometimes you can also kind of see the “seams” of the comic showing (a repeated use of a digital brush here, an awkward pose there) but unless you are really a critic you’ll just roll with it.

 

Writing / Story:

So this comic made me laugh on the first page. That’s the hallmark of good writing if there ever was one. It’s basically the reason that I reviewed this comic rather than the 15+ other comics I’ve got stacked up in the review queue. Grand Opening has a very fun, twisted, sense of humor and it goes all out with this. It’s equate it to like Adventure Time or maybe something that belongs on Adult Swim and that’s pretty high praise. Honestly- if there was no art to this I’d still have read this. Good writing transcends medium and I wish people would understand that. The art in this augments the strong writing and illustrates what’s going on. It’s a great use of the visual medium, using dialogue when required and skipping it when actions would visually complete the scene. I’d give you a breakdown of the plot but it’s very trippy and out there- half the fun is the absurd journey it takes you on and telling you what happens would spoil it.

 

Overall:

I know this is a short review… but it’s a damn good comic. I often have far more to say about turds than I do about diamonds and make no mistake- this comic was an absolute joy. I’ve read LOTS of bad humor comics and was starting to believe that this medium wasn’t as conducive to humor. However- this one has opened my eyes and shown me the light. Can’t wait to get my hands on the next one- this is required reading.

 

Metrics:

Art: 8/10 [Pro level]

Lettering: 5/10 [Decent]

Plot: 9/10 [You’ll laugh your butt off]

Novelty: 9/10 [Insanity. Just insanity.]

Overall: 7/75/10

Link to Buy

Rose

Reviewed by JustKay

Rose2-e1472224543686-300x450Overview

What did I just read? A hot mess, that’s what. A hot mess made by a tweeked out jumpy puppy. I had such high hopes for you jumpy puppy.

Review

‘ello lovelies of the interwebs, today we are taking a look at ‘Rose’created by Cameron Davis. Its almost a solid 30 pages so lets not waste too much time chitchatting and just jump right into the next Indie Comic Review.

Writing

I just can’t even. I mean, wow. Lets put the mangled mess of the story structure to the side for a moment. This comic is a collection of short ones created for the web, which is perfectly acceptable. Some of my favorite comics have in fact grown into their own as webcomics first. However in this issue submitted to us they are all smashed together with only the first one having any real attempt at letting you know that its ended. Good thing too as the next story starts immediately after it, and that one is alright as well, but then everything takes a turn for the worst.

Lets come back to the mangled tangled nonsensical mess that the stories in the comic 34ot2Wissue devolve into. The first story I actually liked. It gave us a sense of the main character, gave us a peek into some of her relationships and who they are, and gave us a fun relate-able story that might have even happened to us as a kid. Second story was a little bit more strange but again it was funny and showed us the silliness of the main character and I can live with those kinds of stories as they serve a purpose. All great, major points were about to be laid down. And then it happened…the de-evolution of sensible mini story arcs into maddening unneeded humor devoid attempts at pandering to a juvenile audience (which frankly is kind of insulting as a reader).

I get that the main character is suppose to be a kid (though what age the creator can’t even seem to agree with themself) and I get that she is suppose to be in love with food. You had so much to work with to make a funny series with a wacky food loving main character. Instead you distilled her down to the bare minimum of what could be considered a realized character and made her a cheap cardboard cut out for the lolz. But you even managed to mess up the lolz!

Art

I actually don’t have alot of gripe about the art. Its a very Sunday morning comic strip feel to it, which is fine because (in theory anyways) it goes with the kind of story you want for a quick webcomic. I’ve actually seen alot of comics in this style that utilize its strengths to help further their antics and make a really great comic out of it. Personally I really like comics in this style because they tend to be the light hearted silly antic driven ones that you need after a tough work week. If the writing had been there, if the plot and characters had at all provided a base for the art to go off of, I think this would have been a really enjoyable read.

RvWU26Ah7X58inpF7k907xRNS1cGOlLGpnu07Ex1frTzNejbHkZtVcGYIZbrOchrVery much the standard comic font for the lettering but it does seem to be appropriately broken up. Not alot of complaint here either accept for my normal pleads to see something different (and function) that enhances the reader’s immersion into the universe. So as far as art and lettering go this comic finally gains some points.

Novelty

If this had been what it should have been, a humorous tale of a young girl in love with food who love herself, it would have been awesome. You don’t see alot of comics that portray a young girls relationship with food in one that isn’t over obsession (looking at your Rose) or an unhealthy one. It had such potentially to be a fun meaningful comic we don’t often get. Well we definitely didn’t get it here either.

Overall

I had really wanted to like this comic but it just kept hitting me over the head till I gave into not liking it. I can’t emphasis enough how insulting it is for a male to write a female main character and not even take the time to at least make her a person and not a whiny gluttony driven poor attempt at humor. Art I can forgive because it fit in with the feel of the series, its an issue made from a webcomic. Standard bland lettering is kind of the majority of what I see for these reviews, that’s fine. But the writing destroyed any chance this series had. Didn’t even give it a chance just shot it right in the face before it even left the starting line.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 5/10 [Quick Sunday paper comic strip art, goes with theme]

Lettering: 5/10 [Standard font, pretty baseline]

Writing: 1/10 [It has writing]

Novelty: 3/10 [Hope its not a repeat]

Overall: 3.5/10

A More Colorful Review – Rat Queens

rat-queens-vol-01-releasesOverview

Ever played a game of D&D and gotten hit by something from the GM that made you think “how screwed are we”? Well meet the badass, nonstop, crazy action and antics that come from that moment constantly happening in comic form.

Review

Today we are going to be talking rodents. Okay not real rodents more like Volume 1 of Rat Queens. Story by Kurtis Wiebe and art by Roc Upchurch take us on a journey of D&D proportions with a gang of gals that will blow your mind. Published by Shadowline Online and Image Comics.

Writing

Okay so the story is a little more then hetic and demands some series attention to keep up with everything that is going on. Its very unapologetically fast paced and perhaps borders on jumpy. But you get the feeling that is just how the characters lives are and come to accept it as another story telling device. Definitly not a comic you want to pick up just to have some fun with for that reason though. However it is throughly entertaining, if a little heavy especially if you really are paying attention to the details. We’ll get to a little bit more about that in the art section.

I mean a gang of women that just destroy shit, what’s not to love. You get the feeling that 13592412._SX540_the group has a lot of backstory together and a strong bond because of it. But you also get a feeling that each individual has a ton of backstory that maybe the others no nothing about. I’m pretty sure we are going to get to see at least one persons backstory come to the forefront in the next volume but I won’t ruin anything with spoilers on that. It does leave room for some interesting developments as a group dynamic though so it should be fun to watch play out.

Art

I’ve got to say Roc does some truly fantastic work. The colors in the background dynamically change to fit the scene and serve to enhance the storyline. And if you pay attention they use the art to further the story even more by embedding hints to things in the art throughout the volume about how things might turn out. Its worth reading a few times just for that fact. See if you can spot them all!

I also have to give a quick shout out to the use of panels in this comic. They weren’t just all squares or full pagers. There were quite a few unexpected panel set ups that were used very well for their purposes which really show a thought out plan between writer and artist when it came to the series. Kudos.

RatQueens_02_CVR_A_VIRGINAgain, I’m sure I’ve said this alot, standard lettering font. But at least with this series the bubbles are the correct sizes and you can in fact read everything. They aren’t confusing to follow the order of either which helps maintains the flow of the story. In fact they occasionally use the order of the text bubbles to guide the eyes over the art to reveal new things.

Diversity

Well I mean it is a dwarf, a smidgen, and two magic users. But even better is that despite it essentially being the “how screwed over are we” D&D game from hell personified they still managed to throw in diversity in a a few forms. The most obvious of which is their color pallet for characters is diverse. They don’t stand beside the misguided and horribly wrong notion that alot of fantasy stories do, in that there can only be one color. In the main group, the sub groups, and even the background characters of the town we see the use of different skin tones used freely. More impressive to me is that they slipped in some queer characters as well. Yes its not a comic that strictly handles anything that could make it be wholly diverse focused (except for the badass ladies taking names all over the place) but still the creators felt it was of a high enough priority that it comes through in the series. Kudos for the extra care in making a believable world.

Overall

A good read that I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of. Lots of action, twists that never seem to end, and plenty of room for development of story lines and character growth. Plus I mean a ton of battles and just generally all of the awesome things from a good D&D campaign encounter.  What’s not to dig?

Metric Breakdown

Art: 8/10 [Lends itself to the verse, little hints throughout]

Lettering: 6/10 [Standard fare]

Writing: 7.5/10 [Lots of action, love direction, occasional feels a little rushed]

Diversity: 7/10 [I mean just look at the cover]

Overall: 7.13/10