Amphoman

Amphoman.pngAmphoman

Staff: Mike Kaye

Overview:

The next comic on the slate of releases is Amphoman by LunchboxCollector. They shot me a copy earlier this year and I’m going to give it a look. Like all comics I am going into this blind beyond the short blurb they sent me, “Gems land on Earth. Awkward hero learns how to use his newfound gem to protect Earth. Power of the gems.” so I’ll judge it by its own merits. Let’s take a look!

 

 Art:

So the art is very amateurish. However, it’s colored, gets the message across, and (while pretty bad) is serviceable. I can understand what’s going on, even if it’s not the prettiest thing to look at. There isn’t much to say beyond that.

 

Layout:

The text is a mess and it just kind of spills wherever it needs to. No thought was given to where the text would go in any given panel, or at least not much. While legible, it lacks basic things like dialogue balloons so we know who is talking. When more than once character talks (particularly the gem) it’s anyone’s guess who is talking. No attempt was made at doing anything creative with the panel layout. Just a bunch of small, cramped, sequential, boxes.

 

Writing / Story:

The basic premise is a bunch of souls in gem form have come to Earth and fused with people. When a specific trigger occurs it gives them power. Our hero is a dude who turns into a frog-man when wet and he’s trying to un-fuse people with gems.

We get a bunch of exposition up front and, honestly, I’m ok with that. It belongs upfront so new readers can understand what’s going on and it doesn’t chew up time in the comic or require “wall of text” exposition dumps… except then it does that anyway. The 1st page recap literally tells you everything that is going to happen in the first half of the comic.

I will say this; the premise isn’t one I’ve seen before, it’s presented simply and straightforwardly (if not a little heavy-handedly) and I get what’s going on. You wouldn’t believe how many comics I’ve read that kind of muddle through half a plot when this one is straight up about it. I could see kids enjoying this more than adults and that’s not a mark against it. There is something to be said for being straightforward. A lot of things are done for convenience; a gem with an alien frog knowing human physiology, knowing a character’s brother, characters knowing each other’s locations without prior interactions, etc. It’s a little sloppy but I can understand where they were going for.

So I think this is supposed to be a thing targeted at kids maybe? Its aforementioned simplicity kind of hints at that but then we get things like page 14 where a dude is getting buzz-sawed in the head and blood is flying while he sobs and I’m not sure that tonally matches up.

The writing could have used an extra editing pass, if for not other reason than the flow of the sentence structure.

I don’t think much thought went into the world building, or at least that’s not on display. They talk about mundane things like taking a plane to Fort Lauderdale, Florida while giving us unfamiliar things like the Buck Shop, Blue Hair Airlines, a globe that doesn’t resemble Earth’s landmasses, etc. There are also frogs, familiar political structures, humans (apparently) on alien planets and it’s never even mentioned. I don’t know if that’s nitpicky but it bothered me a bit.

There is some REALLY heavy-handed stuff that borders on cringy-worthy. The villain doesn’t like that girls pick on him then… he.. makes an army of “Womanizers” to try to put women in their place? Like the author doesn’t even try to be subtle and I kind cringed reading that. There is also a scene that looks like a dude complaining about a Jewish taxi-driver charging him a lot. I won’t harp on this too much because, because of the art, I can’t really tell if the driver was meant to be a stereotypical Jew or just poor artwork.

There are attempts at jokes in this so it might have been designed to be a comedy series… or at least semi-comedic but it doesn’t really do much for me. I think the Buck Shop thing is supposed to be funny somehow but it fell flat. They break the wall once or twice but… it doesn’t really “fit” with the character in a narrative sense other than in a kind of “lol random” way which… I don’t know. The whole comedy of this comic is kind of cringe-worthy. Like it tries, it REALLY tries, but I think it tries too hard.

 

Overall:

I really wanted to like this one more than I did. I saw where they were going with the art, but it was bad. I saw where they were going with the plot, but it was so straightforward and ham-fisted that it fell flat. The lettering and layout were uninspired and difficult to read. I mean you could probably get a bit out of it if you were a kid but even then it might be a bit cringe-worthy.
I can’t recommend this one guys.

 

Metrics:

Art: 2/10 [Serviceable, in color, but poor]

Lettering/Layout: 1/10 [A hot mess]

Plot: 3/10 [Simplistic and messy. Heavy-handed writing.]

Novelty: 5/10 [It had a unique premise at least.]

Overall: 2.25/10

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The Eternal Elite

The Eternal Elite

Staff: Melchizedek Todd

Overview:

So first up this season we’ve got “The Eternal Elite” from Weapon Press. Seems like the author is also the artist and, if I’m being honest, that normally gives me pause. Sure there are a few talented author/artists out there but they are rare indeed. It typically comes when an artist tries to write or a writer teaches themselves art so they can skip paying an artist. Let’s dive into The Eternal Elite #1 and see if Weapon Press can beat the odds!

 

 Art:

So… remember what I said about artist/authors? Yeah… this seems like that. While they definitely had some skill and some panels are better than others; this is not a professional piece. It’s a greyscale comic with decent linework in some places but others just kind of look sloppy. For example, on page 3 of the comic we have some rather amateurish art of 3 characters watching a fight while the characters fighting actually look decent. There are a few issues with shading, proportions, texture (a lot of it is just blurred effect brushes or just forgetting like on page 9 or switching it mid page like on 11), and keeping consistent proportions, etc that crop up pretty regularly.

The fact that we see some beautiful stuff in here is really a shame because when it is contrasted with some lower quality stuff it stands out all the more. Like page 7 has some beautiful examples of dynamic posing but when taken as a whole it looks off. There is also this kind of stylistic disconnect. Page 7 is a great example of this too: you see a very “clean” style with some of the poses but the top row of panels, middle row, and bottom row all seem stylistically very different (like, same artist, but exploring different techniques). This makes it very hard to keep track of things like on page 8 we have Sau, the protagonist, drawn very differently on two panels (bottom left and bottom right) and it took me a beat to figure out they were the same person (since the characters look so non-human).

I’ve definitely seen worse but this isn’t winning any awards.

Now, more than half way through, we get another story with MUCH better art. If this entire book was just this style it’d get a solid 8/10 but we get some much worse art at the start. A mixed bag doesn’t make it better- just drags it down by comparison.

 

Layout:

I always say a hallmark of a good comic is good lettering and layout and… yeah. It’s serviceable. That being said, “serviceable” and unobtrusive is the term you want to have to describe your comic. The font could use a little more spacing (between letters and between lines) but that’s minor gripe.

What is NOT a minor grip is page 15. Ouch. Really? That is some painful text, a grainy image behind it, and the author forgot a period in their first ellipsis. That’s just sloppy.

They make good use of their panels and even get creative. Sometimes they arbitrarily restrain/clip art in panels but I’m not going to judge them too harshly for that.

 

Writing / Story:

So the first like third of this comic is just a fight/training scene and nothing really gets going until like page 8/25. When it does get going it’s a story about angels and… well a lot of it is about training. It covers some stuff about the war between the angels and satan. It sets up a kind of order of elite angels

Seriously, if this comic talked about training anymore I’d think I was watching a bad episode of DBZ. We get a big exposition bomb about half way in that just drags on and feels like “block text” in a video game; the kind you want to skip. A lot of this could have been summed up more conversationally or shown through action or, better yet, tossed in a recap paragraph at the start of the comic. Seriously- this is a medium that thrives on its combination of sequential visuals and literary communication; having paragraph length speech bubbles with a bust-shot of a character’s head with little or no background isn’t a proper use of this medium. At one point it just gives up and give us some journal entries… which I’d like except this is a visual AND literary medium; more text bombs don’t make things better. Come on dude, I really want to like this; USE YOUR MEDIUM!

The writing, overall, is competent but we still get some headscratchers; lines like (and this is a full sentence with it’s actually punctuation), “Who or what to fight I joked.” It’s grammatical errors like this that make it a little hard to read. There are at least 2 instance of the author trying to use an ellipsis, and only giving us 2 periods. This book really needed an editor or at least another editing pass or two.

The second story in this book is a painful read. Like I get that it’s trying to show a tortured soul but it just comes across as being rather emo or “edgy for the sake of edgy”. It comes off very trite and is more “scripture porn” than an actually meaningful story. I’m not entirely sure if this second character is supposed to be Sau from the first one but, though I’m fairly sure it’s not (unless they changed its design again). Not much happens here except for a fight and a warrior bemoaning their existence. At least they used the visual and literary mediums together in this and we get some pretty artwork.

 

Overall:

So the last pages reveal that this is a Christian comic. I had my guesses but I judged it entirely as a comic (and wrote most of this review, in note form, before seeing that). I’ve given good and bad reviews to Christian comics but… yeah, this isn’t a great one. It gets a little heavy-handed at the end. Part of me wonders if there were different artists and/or writers on this but they just didn’t get credited. It’s either that or this was just one of the most schizophrenic artist/writers ever.

This is a hard one for me. It’s got moments of brilliance but MAN does it fall apart. We get the exposition dump and mismatched art in the 1st story and the emo diatribe in the second. This sucks because the 1st had an interesting setup (if a little over explained) and the 2nd has awesome artwork.

I can’t recommend this one but, if you dig it, more power to you.

 

Metrics:

Art: 3/10 [2nd part has awesome art, 1st is a mixed bag]

Lettering/Layout: 7/10 [Lettering is legible. Layout is solid.]

Plot: 4/10 [A decent premise but is implemented poorly]

Novelty: 5/10 [Angels vs devils but pretty standard. Unique, if not confusing character designs]

Overall: 4.75/10

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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

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

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