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

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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

A More Colorful Review – Rat Queens

rat-queens-vol-01-releasesOverview

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

Review

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

Writing

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

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

Art

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

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

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

Diversity

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

Overall

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

Metric Breakdown

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

Lettering: 6/10 [Standard fare]

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

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

Overall: 7.13/10

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.

Reviewtumblr_nejv76iCfG1qg4b06o1_500

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.

download

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 – 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.

Reviewfaith_001_cover-a_djurdjevic-640x984

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