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

Advertisements

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

Spoiler Free Iron Fist Review

Iron Fist share much of it’s DNA with the Daredevil series. They could be brothers or maybe cousins but Daredevil was the one that went to college and got a job that it worked hard to make pay off. Iron Fist is the one who saw how well Daredevil did and tried to follow in its footsteps without understanding the finer points.

the-last-dragon-bannerWhat it wanted to be was a 80’s kung fu movie like the Last Dragon, Big Trouble in Little China, or even like 90s action movies that were not as gritty like Only the Strong, Die Hard (I know it was ’88), or even Iron Monkey. What it ends up being is like a b-grade action 90s action movie, ironically, like the original daredevil (when you see the chick with the spider stuff, try not to imagine her in a bad 90s flick).
At it’s best, and that’s near the end of the series (a trend with a lot of the Netflix series), it’s a fun series about Danny and Connie running around New York, one with a glowing fist and the other with a katana, fighting a bunch of thugs in suits. When it remembers to be about mystic kung fu bullshit, it borders on being great. However, and I suspect this is either a directorial issue or budget constraints, we don’t get much of that (sorry). The series doesn’t follow the ethos of “show, don’t tell”. Rather than get a single scene of teenage Danny running around the streets of K’un-lun we have to hear Danny telling us about the stew some monk made. I can count on 1 hands the number of scenes we had even NEAR K’un-lun. This kind of brings me to the meat of the problem with Iron Fist- the Meachums and their talking.
(MINOR Spoilers in the following paragraph. Nothing past the first episode.)
The Meachums, as you find out in the first episode, are the Rand family’s best buddies and also kind of co-founded/co-ran Rand Industries. Skipping past all the spoilers- they are boring. They should have been, at best, a B-plot. They add some depth to Danny and his background but, overall, I actually got bored a few times with them. I get Danny isn’t the brightest bulb in the pack (I’ll get to that later) but, and this isn’t a spoiler, just about every time Danny trusts the Meachums they screw him over. Like… habitually. Like, it’s their religion or something to mess with Danny- even in his childhood- and he is like oblivious to this. They are literally in the plot only to cause problems for Danny that he is only tangentially involved with. Now, I only bring this up because there is WAY MORE INTERESTING STUFF HAPPENING and they use the Meachum stuff as very badly disguised padding.
(Minor spoilers end)

Now, the guy who plays Ward Meachum, Tom Pelphrey, owns every damn scene he is in. Guy came up as a soap opera actor and just kills it. He chews the scenery at every opportunity he gets but his plot really has no weight or connection to superhero stuff. Hell, David Wenham who plays another Meachum also kills it. They both easily outclass Finn Jones and Jessica Henwick, which is ok because they are decent in their own right.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I’ve heard the cries of “Danny Rand should have been Asian!”. No, he shouldn’t have. This is a story deeply set in New York, centers on a lot of big business white guys, and the fact that he’s the perfectly expected poster boy for a fortune 500 company (what you’d expect) works for him. White dude doing Kung Fu is half the story in this case. One thing I was thinking, while watching it was, “I… dunno. Might have been a bit racist to recast the ethnicity of the only martial arts superhero thus far as asian.” Now, if they had- it would have been fine. They did it with Colleen Wing (Well she was… kind of part Asian) and nothing exploded. Wouldn’t have ruined anything, they could write around it, and (as I’ve expressed above) this series didn’t dig deep enough that the change would have ‘ruined it’. (Related note: Know who’s killing it in a role that I’d normally assume would be cast as a white dude? Daniel Wu in Into the Badlands. Go watch that.)

Image result for Colleen Wing daughters of the dragon
There ARE high points. Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing is a fun character who adds a lot of credence to the series that wouldn’t have been there if she hadn’t. They did a solid job on tackling childhood trauma and the visual representation/narrative impact was well applied. Some people didn’t dig the fight scenes- I really did. They don’t have a lot of spinning backflips and focus a lot more on quick parries, competent countering, joint manipulation, and even some great scenes of groundwork (which you never see!). When it remembers to be about kung fu antics- it’s awesome. Monks and meditation, spiritual new age woo, guards that are oddly armed with martial arts weapons, grand duels- it’s a lot of fun.

Finn Jones- you did a passable job. Unfortunately you were not who we expected. Krysten Ritter was a tour de force, Mike Colter brought the material to life in a sophisticated by quiet way, and Charlie Cox was probably better than we expected. Finn… was ok. This series needed a guy who lived and breathed martial arts. They got a guy who STARTED his training for the show. Not a guy who was in love with it and then happened to be cast. Go rewatch the old Green Hornet show- Bruce Lee was on display in every fight scene he had (I mean… it was campy stuff but he was clearly in love with it). Finn Jones… well he looks good with his shirt off and seems to “get” the slow stuff like tai chi and meditative poses. He’s not a natural and it shows. As an actor- he does ok. He never really hits home but they could have made a worse casting choice.
Overall, this series suffers by comparison. It’s a SOLID show. Please, if you take anything away from this, take that. It’s a show worth watching but when you imagine what it COULD have been and when you compare it to the other Netflix Series? It’s a let down. So? B+. I’d watch it again (and will with my wife) and I’m looking forward to see Danny back in the Defenders. He’ll be a good balance to the others and there were a lot of good plot points that will set up the Defenders series this fall (expected).

 

ScottyG’s Verdict?

7/10- give it a watch