A More Colorful Review – BashBack

Overview

When the world decides to beat down on the Queer community, the Queer community punches back. In this series full of violence, sex, language, and angry queers you better watch who you decide is worth a beating because they just might punch back.

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This week we will be looking at Issue #0 of BashBack. A comic about a Queer Mafia written by Lawrence Gullo and Kelsey Hercs, with art from Fyodor Pavlov. This is an indie comic in the purest sense so if you’d like to get your hands on a copy after the review you can by their tumblr as they have recently done a Kickstarter to do the first physical prints of their comic.

Writing

The plot of the story is very much about showing and possible bleeding off some of the anger the Queer community has. When you are constantly attacked, degraded, and disregarded for who you are its really hard not to be pissed off and wanting to do something. In this series the writers focus that into a story about the Queer community protecting and providing for their own even if it means going outside of the law to do it. They are a Queer Mafia, a buffer between the hate groups and their people. It is really a very compelling story even if some of it comes off as extreme I believe that fits write in with the writers point for the series. All of the story elements pull you further into the world and you feel the justification, and perhaps the justice, behind the characters actions.

Screenshot 2016-05-26 14.54.17Man does this series have alot of characters! And its only Issue #0. Now while not all of them get fleshed out in this issue you get enough a feel for them both through the art, and their interactions with the main players of this issue to really make me believe there is alot there the writers can explore in future issues. Heck even what I consider to be the 5 characters this issue put in the spotlight already have alot of background and identity baked right into them. The way the talk, they manner they go about protecting people, their interactions with each other all of it serves to make you feel like these are fully realized people. Really interested to see how they make this work for them down the line.

Art

In contrast to the brightly down cover they’ve opted for purely black and white art inside. Which seems very strange at first but makes sense. They are trying to invoke that gritty feel that was achieved by other media left in black and white. The series is reaching back into the media knowledge of mafia and trying to put that to use to help us slide into the story line. Considering its all in black in white it is rather beautifully done, they don’t lose details because of it. Their characters are all still distinguishable and come with their own unique details that stay consistent through out. So of the club scenes or those with a lot of background art do seem to meld together because of this choice though.

The lettering feels a bit like maybe they left that for last in the production pipeline. Bash-Back-John-Doran-Beating-660x1001
Spelling mistakes, places where the lettering goes outside of the speech bubbles making it hard to read, and weird ordering of those speech bubbles make a few parts way more confusing then they would have been. For the most part that’s really the only things that added confusion to this series for me. They even used a very generic font throughout it that while readable didn’t really feel like it fit in the universe they were building. I think they very much need to polish and buckle down on lettering for their issues moving forward.

Diversity

This series does a great job with this. A large portion of the queer spectrum is represented, multiple races are shown in the forefront, and body types vary. With this only being Issue #0 of the series I very much look forward to seeing how they keep up this pace moving forward. The main character is dealing with being trans in a world that is actively hostile against him, but seems to hold his own after finally finding a ‘family’ that accepts him. I really hope they take the time to explore all of the potential pressure points the queer community has that they have seem to set up for in this first issue.

Overall

I think this will be a really interesting series to keep an eye on. They’ve set themselves up with a fantastic cast of characters, a really interesting universe, and a foe of bigotry that could take an endless number of shapes without having the story lines become boring and repetitive. I do think there is room for improvement and polish with the lettering and probably even with maintaining details in larger scenes. But this series really does kick the major leaguers in the balls with its daring.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 7/10 [Lends itself to story, so details lost]

Lettering: 5/10 [Spelling errors, outside bubbles]

Writing: 8/10 [Huge character cast, lots of potential]

Diversity: 8.5/10 [Great show so far, lets see what they do with it]

Overall: 7.13/10

A More Colorful Review – Bitch Planet

Overview

Women just destroying people in a violent place in preparation for a violent game. They might be locked up on a whole ‘nother planet but these ladies are fixing to throw down and put the hurt on ya. Welcome to Bitch Planet.

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Review

Up next on the docket is Book 1 of Bitch Planet! (Kind of feels like it always needs an exclamation point afterwards) Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and art by Valentine De Landro. Lets dive right into this girl gangs in space royale.

Writing

I actually really like the way they went about story telling with this series. You are very much being set up for something bigger down the line and are given hints about it every step of the way. Also the fact that you can pay to have your wife sent there just because you wanted to marry your mistress is so majorly f’ed up. But it perfectly sets up your expectations of the universe. Everything in it is so backwards. Truthfully it reads like the most extremely violent version of the Hunger Games you could possible get in space. Its a really fun read and seemed to go by pretty quick so I would recommend just buying the books rather then individual issues as you are really going to want enough at once to sink your teeth into.Penelope

Who is presented as the main character seems pretty interesting. She is definitely not telling us everything about why she is or what her motives are which makes her enticing. The other members of the cast have different hooks for your interest as well though we don’t get to find out alot about most of them. So far we really only know the full background on one of them. Hopefully they’ll use that to their advantage in future issues to give themselves alot of material to play with. I do think that they try to keep what’s going on so mysterious that alot of the other cast comes off as a bit stiff and cardboard cut out like.

Art

The art for the issues is this strange mix of fake 1950’s era fake ad pages and a highly stylized color focused brand. Its not something that I would want to see a ton in comics at all. But it really kind of drags the reader into the mindset of how weird, out of sync, and bizarre this world really is. When people who are brightly colored and heavily outlined are talking about paying to have their wife killed it sends a message to the reader that its just how the world is. An everyday accepted part of it.

TBP3he style becomes even more pronounced anytime we actually see scene on Bitch Planet, giving it an even great atmosphere of this alien place. It actually kind of reminds me of what alot of the movies from the 80’s and 90’s though 2020 would look like. Huge electronic screens indoctrinating people, manipulation of the populace through violence. Its all very well contrasted and I believe adds an extra element to things for the reader.

But of course once again they use the standard comic font for their lettering. Its something that while an industry base line gets very tiring to see all the time. The standard font is easy to read and follow yes, but its really hard to convey how your characters are talking and emphasizing things with it. They are essentially crippling themselves on an element they could have used to pull the reader in even more.

Diversity

Diverse body types? Check. An almost entirely female cast of characters? Check. Diverse ethnicity and race? Check. And while technically it has a lady/lady pair I’m not counting it because it was used in a “we let the guard watch for benefits” way. Probably not the best use of that, at all. But I will give them points for keeping int he prison theme at least.

Overall

This is a very violent look at ourselves as a society. What pitfalls we could run head long into if we gave up certain things, accepted the way things are. It is a very bleak, violent, and eye opening look at a future of a bunch of women who are pissed off enough to do something about it. Reading this series actually turned out to be very cathartic for me especially after all of the political mess happening. Hopefully you’ll let the art and the scary possibilities drag you into it for a little bit to come out the other end ready to fight.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 9/10 [Really did the universe justice]

Lettering: 6/10 [Same font, readable at least]

Writing: 8/10 [Really enjoyed it, loved the characters]

Diversity: 7/10 [Got some right, fell flat hard on queer rep]

Overall: 7.5/10

A More Colorful Review – Kim & Kim

Reviewed by JustKay

Overview

Ladies kicking major butt, space chases and adventures, weird villains, shape shifting octopuses. What else do you need?

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Review

Next on the docket for the ‘A More Colorful Review’ column is “Kim & Kim” written by Magdalene Visaggio, art by Eva Cabrera, published by Black Mask Studios. Now that I’ve settled you in lets jump right into the good stuff.

Writing

To say the writing and plot is a little disjointed and jarring would be an understatement. Its definitely unique, action packed and fast paced but it comes across more like a hyper kid with a fully realized story that they dropped into a blender. There are micro stories within an over arching plot that also has its own little off shoot arches. The quality of writing is pretty up there as far as fleshed out characters, fully realized motivations, and a real handle on this ridiculously expansive universe (technically multiverses and multi-dimensions) . But I feel like it was put together in a drug induced state as I made my way through it.

kim-kim-1-11Our two main characters are freaking awesome though, despite the short comings of the story telling. One packs what I guess is the series’ version of an AK-47 and the other bashes people with fists and an electric guitar. Not only that but we even see how fleshed out each of them are throughout the shit storm that is the plot of Issues #1-4. They are both out on their own trying to make it without the support of their family for various reasons, both stemming from not fitting the mold their parents want them to. These two are rich and deep if you pay attention to the small things that are said and shown. So much potential for so many amazing moments as long as the action cyclone doesn’t obscure it all.

Art

The art style for the series very much fits the zany insane things that tends to happen. It lends itself very well to the story and brings to life the ridiculous situations these two end up in without coming off as super cartoony. My biggest complaint is that at least in my print edition some of the pages came off as very slightly distorted in that sense that they blew up a smaller image of the page to fit a standard A4 size. The shading and highlighting is a little funky in that they don’t actually seem to add any depth to the pictures, otherwise the color is gorgeous.

Lettering is definitely professional and I appreciate the little touch of adding intonation to what the characters are saying by bolding the words that they are putting emphasis on. It adds a whole lot more sass and sarcasm then you realize until its presented to you. This creates an even more filled out sense of the characters as well as they all have their own way of speaking that isn’t forced to be shown through some visual butchering of a dialect. Still it is in that most basic of comic book fonts that you find everywhere but I guess tried and true works sometimes.

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**NOTE THIS SECTION CONTAINS AT LEAST ONE SPOILER**

I mean this comic series hits alot of high points as far as diversity. The main and sub characters are almost 50/50 split on white to POC, one sub character is gay while one main character is Bi, the other man character is trans. It talks about platonic relationships without sex but doesn’t hide that its alright to want and talk about those things as well. The only dig I can really see against the series is that everyone seems to be the same body type. That kind of standard ‘every story character ever is fit’ universe with the only exception being background characters and the occasional villain.

Overall

If you love interesting characters, zaney action packed adventure, and whirlwind stories then you’ll love this series. The art and lettering work well to help convey and move the story along while providing you with extra insight into the characters themselves. And the writer uses the artist’s ability to tell a crazy story, that while sometimes hard to follow, is a fun read none the less.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 7/10 [Lends itself to story, some blurred mishaps]

Lettering: 8/10 [Shows intonation, well done]

Writing: 7/10 [Enjoyable, but confusing at times]

Diversity: 8/10 [Awesome rep, lacking body types]

Overall: 7.5/10

A More Colorful Review – Faith

Reviewed by JustKay

Overview

“Faith” has great art, a safe but well written storyline that falls into a few too many tropes, and a handle on diversity that has some growing yet to do.

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Hi Indie Comic Review readers, I’m Kayla one of the new writers! Most of you probably know me on the web by JustKay or some variation of that moniker. One of the things I’ll be tackling for ICR is bringing in a hard look at comics that claim some sort of title for diverse characters or story plot to let you know which ones are worth the dough and which are flops to be avoided.

The first comic for my new ‘A More Colorful Review’ column is “Faith” written by Jody Houser, art by Pere Perez and Marguerite Sauvage, published by Valiant Entertainment. Now that I’ve settled you in let’s jump right into the good stuff.

Writing

Plot wise the series has some growing to do. The definitely have the zany villains thing covered, I believe I actually said WTF out loud when the bad guy was finally named. But the story itself let things to be desired. To start off with I felt a little out of the loop not having read “The Renegades” first since they do reference the previous villain and what feel like major plot points that affect our hero’s, Faith’s, demeanor and how she tackles crime fighting. I also felt that when we finally found out what this horrible thing that happened was that it seemed to roll off of her back just a little too much. Something like that would effect a normal person, much less someone with powers, but what we see is a few panels of sad prose followed by a few more of her talking (if you can call it that) to her ex-superhero boyfriend about it. Having read comics since I was a little kid a lot of the story line will be familiar to the rest of you comic junkies out there, and easy to follow once you get into it. That said I do hope that “Faith” can use the great cast of characters they’ve set themselves up with to really grow into their own instead of remaining what now amounts to a spin-off series.

faith-1-1I do really feel like we are given a great deal of time to really come to love not only the main character but her growing, and fresh, relationships with those tied into her story. The cast is made of hacker, an archer, a movie star, the ex-boyfriend, and a rag tag group of coworkers all of which come in various races and sizes for the most part. Though both the ex-boyfriend and the archer, who is hinted at being the new love interest quite a bit, does fit the ‘white guy with blonde hair oh and is super hot’ trope which is a bit of a let down. Faith though is given just enough internet blogger goodness and super hero badass butt kicking that I believe she will become a source of inspiration for a lot of young girls out there just starting to read comics. Given how hard finding even that is sometimes I’ll take the win. But as with all good reviews the characters are all roses. Unfortunately the interactions between characters fell flat and unbelievable sometimes, and some parts of the plot felt like they were merely there to try and force some sort of awkward forced development which seemed to fail or completely be forgotten about in the next panel.

Art

The art in the series is high quality and generally very pretty. I do appreciate how the separated what was actually happening in the story vs Faith’s imaginings but slightly shifting the art style into more of an Adventure Time cartoon style. The coloring in the issues I’ve read so far (#1-4) are superbly done. I would have been greatly disappointed otherwise since this series is supported by a larger publisher, Valiant. The style really helps the plot flow together and adds that occasional wacky and funny moment to help liven up what can sometimes be a dark superhero business.images

As for lettering, it was easy to read though its in that very standard of fonts that every comic series seems to be using now a days. And the imagination scenes can get a little weird to read but you are provided with helpful built in arrows to direct you. The printing of the issues I read do in fact contain a few spelling and grammar errors, but hopefully those will get shorted out in the next round. They kept things very stylized and cohesive as far as a formatting for lettering depending on who was talking, thoughts, imaginings, and what was being spoken which helped to make the whole thing a lot less confusing to read then it had the potential to be.

(Little review nugget for those that go one to read it: On a side note WTF was the helmet on? It was nowhere and then poof she rips it off? Was it invisibly on his hat or something?)

Diversity

**NOTE THIS SECTION DOES HAVE AT LEAST ONE SPOILER PROCEED WITH CAUTION**

So what this comic has going for it in the diversity column: female lead, larger girl lead, at least some POC representation in what might be a growing team. What it has marked against it: main character and 2 out of 4 support characters (not counting coworkers) and blonde white people, a POC who is actually an alien, and another POC that you don’t really see or interact much except through text and phone calls. While this comic has a bold bigger female superhero it kind of feels like it limits itself to painting a monochromatic comic to try and ‘not be too edgy’. Though I doubt all the big girls out there in love with the idea of being able to cosplay a superhero just like them care too much about that, I challenge “Faith” to step it up a notch in the coming issues. We are watching you.

Overall

I would recommend this book, while predictable, it’s still an enjoyable read. It provides a strong female lead outside of what most of the entertainment industry considers a normal female body. The story doesn’t make it about her weight, or her dealing with the fact she is big at all. While the villains are creepy with hilarious names and mannerisms they are very much that hookie first villain the hero takes on, which hopefully means there will be some growth into villains that can match (and maybe even over power) the main character. I’d say skip the individual issues though and just stick to the volumes as that’s the only way to handle the truncated story line enough to take it even moderately seriously.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 8/10 [Pro Level]

Lettering: 8/10 [Pro Level]

Writing: 6/10 [Well Written, lacking imagination]

Diversity: 5/10 [Mediocre but there]

Overall: 6.75/10