The Lightbearer

The Lightbringer

Staff: Kyle Simon, Jamie Me, Blake Wilkie, and Gleidson Ribeiro

Overview:

Next up is “The Lightbearer” by LOD Comics. It’s got a beautiful cover, it’s got something to do with the antichrist (I try not to read much in the way of summaries), and I’m ready to jump in with both feet!

 

 Art:

So the artist is a detailed, realistic, style. It’s professional grade but not in the style of the standard “big two” comic companies (which isn’t good or bad)- it’s beautiful and well done. Couldn’t ask for better. This is some hand drawn goodness. It gets downright artistic (like, hang “I’d hang this on my wall” level good) and even a bit abstract (in a good way) once we get into it. I don’t know how well someone of a more traditional ilk could have handled this. It’s tonally appropriate, well done, and compliments the tone. There are some WICKED COOL character designs and they use their visuals appropriately to further the story. They have some great dynamic posing, the perspective is great (some *ahem* nice use of shadows too), and the penciler clearly had an idea for scene composition. (Bonus note: check out some of the cameos on page 15)

There are a few oddities (page 6 has some weird quality issue across the guy’s waist, the light on earth stick out too much and seem to be above the clouds, some weird expressions like on page 11) but they are a drop in an ocean of good quality.

 

Layout:

The lettering is fine, which is the best praise you can give lettering. It should be unobtrusive, legible, and used only when needed. Full marks for that. There is some fantastic use of panel transitions here. Like… best I’ve seen in an independent comic. They are downright inspired (see page 4 if you have any doubts). It’s also worth mentioning that they make good use of it throughout the entire book!

 

Writing / Story:

A good comic writer knows when to write and when to let the visuals speak for themselves. Damn- they nailed this. Some of my favorite works are dialogue light and this don’t disappoint. The premise is simple, mysterious, and moves at a solid pace. I was engaged the entire way though, and am totally looking forward to the inevitably awesome smackdown that’s going to happen in issue #2.

 

Overall:

Overall- this is a must buy. It’s solid, fun, wonderful, and bizarre. I have absolutely no idea where this rollercoaster will end but I want to go along for the ride. They got the right writer and the right art team for this. Seriously- give this a look!

 

Metrics:

Art: 9/10 [Solid, hand-drawn, goodness. 1 or 2 minor hiccups]

Lettering/Layout: 8/10 [Lettering is legible. Layout is awesome.]

Plot: 7/10 [Can’t wait for #2]

Novelty: 7/10 [This is some weird, bizarre, fun, stuff.]

Overall: 7.75/10

Buy it Now!

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Mirai

Mirai

Staff: Hamish Downie and Kaho Takamura

Overview:

So I’m looking at Mirai today. This is a straight up manga style comic by Hamish Downie and Kaho Takamura. It’s not my usual fare for this site (though I’ve read my fair share of manga) but I’ll give anything a shot once.

Art:

The art is professional grade for manga-style artwork. It’s black and white but that doesn’t detract from this too much. The character designs are fun. There is an odd use of materials or textures that sometimes seems really out of place (see the plane’s nose cone on page 3 for an example- and yes I get it’s supposed to be made of an odd material).

 

Layout:

One thing I’ll notes is that the compression on this comic is terrible. There is a lot of artifacting on the pages. I’ll also note that it appears that some of the art assets, particularly the dialogue balloons seem copy/pasted as they are (pixel to pixel) identical. This was also clearly written in Japanese first then translated to english for a second printing. That’s fine but it brings up some odd text placement/flow in the dialogue balloons at time as they are clearly trying to fit English words into balloons sized for the Japanese text. This means there are times when the text needs to be made significantly larger or smaller than it should be (or would have been for an English release) at times. This, in addition to the artifacting, makes it really hard to read (see bottom left of page 5). I had to keep zooming in and out to read it.

 

Writing / Story:

The plot is a little weird and, I’ve read weird plots before, but I’ll admit I had to go back and re-read a few pages to understand what’s going on. I still am only like 75% sure I got it all and I’ve reviewed like 70+ indie comics. I think a lot of it is due to the transitions and pacing. The transitions are very jumpy and not a lot of explanations are given (see end of page 9 to start of page 10) or establishing information given. The pacing is very odd- we get a lot of time devoted to some scenes and altogether skip over others (like the trip back to Japan).

The same can be said of characterization. We are told a lot of things, rather than shown (see page 12 for a rather blunt example). At one point a character fights like hell to return to Japan from a trip to Australia but then we have a tiny panel where she is scolded for trying to go to Australia.

There are lots of plot elements thrown at us that don’t really get fleshed out. We have a relatively realistic world but then we are introduced to planes “made of rice crackers, fueled by sun-flower oil, and love”, a subplot about a grandmother, a not-well-explored line about a mouse who the protagonist saved, a plot about an Empress that literally only fills half a page, something about winning a Karuta tournament, a robotic cat, and then shrinking. Like the first half was able for a reader to follow but then we just get into some rather dramatic lack of cohesion. It’s like the writer started out with a plot then realized they were running out of pages and just kind of starting throwing random things out to get all of it into issue #1 for some reason. If it was all one thing (“plants as technology”, “an exploration on the implications of life-like robots”, “environmentalism taken to an illogical extreme”, “magic garments”, etc) it has the potential to be a decent premise… but it seems like everything was just kind of tossed in the blender and nothing is explored. At all. Like, that list I did earlier? You literally have about as much information as the reader does about them. They are just kind of shown, as things.

The whole thing is just kind of a mish-mash that probably made sense to the author and might be better explored in subsequent issues but this was just a painful read. What they need to figure out a bit more solidly is pacing and tone. It might have behoved the author to start with the introduction to the Japanese cast (see page 10) and then, though flashbacks (even if it wasn’t in the first issue) explore the protagonist’s background.

 

Overall:

So, a lot of people will probably be willing to give this a higher rating than I will because the art is very pretty, the characters adorable, and it’s an English manga. I grade art and writing separately. If you imagine this comic with poor art- it’d be a trainwreck of a plot. I really dislike giving poor scores, particularly to passion projects, but this one is one to skip.

Metrics:

Art: 7/10 [Better than average.]

Lettering/Layout: 1/10 [Artifacting, text issues, reused assets.]

Plot: 1/10 [This is a mess.]

Novelty: 3/10 [Lots of ideas. None of them explored.]

Overall: 3/10

Link to Patreon

Mi Sweethart

Reviewed by JustKay

Overview

Badass super agent in her jammies kicking people in the face and letting out her dog, which is also a human… but still totally a dog.

6424Review

Hey you kooky comic readers, thanks for joining me this week when we take a look at ‘Mi Sweethart’ by well I’d love to tell you but the fact is the creator didn’t put their name on it or the name of the artist. I don’t even know if they are in fact the same person. I’d love to give them credit but seriously, ya making it kind of hard on me to do so.

(PS – after using our all mighty Google overlord the author of the comic is Sam Head, however I’m keeping my opening because WHY WOULDN’T YOU PUT YOUR NAME ON THE THING YOU SUBMITTED TO A REVIEWER~)

Writing

So its not so strong on its plot, this issue is more then likely just being used to introduce the main character and set up for bigger things in the series. Not a ton of things get explained and you have alot of fact, names, organizations, etc all thrown at you with gloss over details or more often no details. There is a clear story line in this issue straight from the beginning that sets to reinforce the universe they are trying to create for the series. Points there as that is a very hard thing to do.

Ugh~ I freaking love Mi~. Now don’t get me wrong the character is by no means perfect, in fact at this point she comes off as a little one dimensional. BUT she is a female super agent/spy who isn’t 1) male gazed to the point of being ineffective at her job, 2) innocent or obtuse, 3) clearly just there to be rescued. Mi is a badass, swearing, vulgar woman who drops dirty lines about blow jobs after taking a sword to the face. I really hope the creator takes the time to add depth to her character in the following issues because otherwise they are going to shoot themselves in the foot hard.

Art6e7b38a2f1e60355b794dd89b86a47d3._SX176_QL80_TTD_

The style and the story go really well together. Although I am a bit disappointed that the quality of the style we see on the issue’s cover isn’t the quality we get inside the comic. The creator picked a great style for the story but its execution ended up rather muddled and rushed looking. So the inconsistency of quality through out the issue is a little jarring and definitely knocks you out of trying to be absorbed by the story.

Lettering is nicely broken up into easily read chunks since the motto of the creator seems to be show don’t tell. Something I talked about in the writing section that I ~love~ seeing comic creators do. If I wanted to just read pages of text I’d literally pick up one of the dozens and dozens of books I have pilled up from recent book store trips. Only two things to pick on when it came to the lettering: the broken record one of it being in the standard default comic font, and that at times the bubble and the lettering seemed a little blurred like maybe that layer in the PDF has been tweaked.

Novelty

I know there are probably tons of super agent ultra spy comics out there, just as I know that I could drown in the number of super hero comics. But there is something about this comic series thus far that leads me to be excited to see where its going. The why they set up the casual nature of the agency she works for, her reputation, and some of the superbly ludicrous claims that turn out to be true. All of it creates this space where the absurdity of Saturday morning cartoons meets the vulgarity and brutality of Archer.

CsOlnUbWIAAN3fZOverall

Not a bad comic actually. From the title I was actually expecting either a romance or a play off of a certain Italian plumber whose name I’ve been assured the use of is well outside our budget. The art style really lends itself to the sometimes off color brash story and characters. Still not quite sure they cleared enough stuff up for the reader before cutting off for the next issue, but I will admit that they are leaving a bit of a hook to come back and read Issue #2. I’d definitely add it to my list of downloadable comics to keep an eye on for updates.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 7/10 [Unique style, quality inconsistencies]

Lettering: 6/10 [standard fare, sometimes reads blurry]

Writing: 7/10 [Plot built universe, great potential for Mi]

Novelty: 7/10 [Nice mix of absurd and vulgarity]

Overall: 6.75/10

A More Colorful Review – Paper Girls

Reviewed by JustKay

PaperGirls_Vol01-1Overview

A bizarre tale of weirdness laced with strange from beginning to end. Also they definitely have way too many undelivered newspapers to be keeping their jobs after this.

Review

Join me today while we take a look over Paper Girls: written by Brian K Vaughan, art by Cliff Chiang. Its going to be a bit of a weird ride so hang in there with me while dive right into it.

Writing

To be honest I’m not entirely sure what I just read. Was it enjoyable, I think. Was it rememberable, sort of. More then anything its a very strange drawn out tale that leaves you utterly confused. I’m not sure it was entirely by design. I just read a whole volume of the stuff and I’m not even sure what’s going on. Its like a bit of jumbled writing was created in hopes of creating a compelling story line but they forgot that you need to explain or show things to your reader so they can become invested in it. As things stand I could walk away from the story right now and not be too upset with not finding out what happens.

As 12 year old girls go they aren’t believable. They read more as seniors in high school if Paper-Girls-2-Headeranything. Especially who I guess they are trying to paint as the protector of the group. What 12 year old girl smokes cigarettes, is accused of being a loan shark rolling people, and decides having gun is the best course of action? So for characters they get docked on this one. The way the girls act, respond, and talk vastly differs from what they are trying to portray them as. But it does add to the extremely bizarre vibe of the whole series.

Art

The art is nicely done, though the character’s faces do tend to lose definition sometimes to the point of being creepy. The simple colored backgrounds when focusing on characters though lends itself very well to the story telling. Some of the panel choices though seem off. Why would I want to either crane my neck side ways or hold my comic like some playboy magazine to be able to tell what’s going on?

tumblr_nvvfqhRlVz1smnk5ao6_500Lettering is again the standard font for comics, but they somehow get a little bit more intonation out of it with the text bubbles themselves then I’ve seen previous series do. Good on them for figuring out how to make that font a little bit more bearable. I hope in the future maybe they decide to jump from the standard font to bring a little bit more life into their characters and the story.

Diversity

It has an all female lead assemble cast which is a cool thing to see. They are all young girls, which while cool to see in a comic, is questionable since they act more like adults in a sometimes vulgar way I wouldn’t want a little kid exposed to. The cast does include diverse races and ethnicity though so points there.

Overall

Probably a story you’ll have to read a few times just to really nail what the hell is actually happening in it. It feels like you are just kind of getting thrown into things without really building any connection to the characters or any understand of the universe. But I think the main cast is feeling a bit like that as well. Hopefully we will see a little more structure from the series as it progresses to make it more approachable to readers.

Metric Breakdown

Art: 7/10 [Good style, missing details]

Lettering: 6/10 [standard fare]

Writing: 6/10 [What did I even just read]

Diversity: 6/10 [Gender and ethnicity check]

Overall: 6.25/10

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