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

Check Out The Entire Series

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This Season On Indie Comic Review!

Ok kids so it’s been a while; I tend to take breaks but it’s time for the next season of Indie Comic Review! We are going to have a solid run of comics this year and I can’t wait to see where it goes! One of the reasons I have been not posting here is because I typically write on Medium so you’ll have to go there for my “rants”.

 

Anyway, 1st one is going to be a good one so strap in!

“Runaways” Confirmed Canon for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Dr. Strange recently hit theaters and has already raked in a 122.3 million in it’s opening weekend but something even larger looms on the horizon via little-reported easter egg that popped up during the third act. That’s right the seeds for the beloved and critically acclaimed “Runaways”, created by  the legendary Brian K. Vaughan (Lost, Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad, Saga, etc), have been sewn. I’ll try to make this as spoiler-free as possible  but there may be minor spoilers for both Runaways (read it if you haven’t) and Dr. Strange.

 

In the third act, during a scene where students at the Hong Kong Sanctum are picking up their artifacts- an asian woman picks up a rather simple looking staff. It’s just a few second shot and she’s one of a bunch of people, but she’s kind of in the center of the shot. She’s a little behind Wong (By the way Benedict Wong, who plays Kuiblai Khan on Marco Polo is one of those untapped treasures) and no attention is paid to her. This object she’s holding is the Staff of One.

 

290127-149792-staff-of-one
The Staff of One is a terribly powerful artifact in the Marvel universe. Basically it’s a staff that can cast any magic, once. Each time the user needs to use a new word or phrase to describe what is desired. They could say “Stop” and their target would stop. They could never say “Stop” again and would have to say “Freeze” (which might, if the staff choses, encase their target in ice). It’s powered by blood, each time it is used a little blood has to be offered (there’s a great scene where Nico of the Runaways uses menstruation…) with greater amounts of it being required for more powerful spells. It kind of lives in the body of the user too and a little blood has to be spilled to call it forth. In the comics it’s wielded (primarily) by Nico Minoru (who occasionally uses the name “Sister Grim”), kind of the leader of the Runaways. It was used by her mom before her.

 

So, how do we know is this THE Staff of One and not just something that looks kind of like it? Well on the IMDB page for Dr. Strange Linda Louise Duan is listed as playing  Tina Minoru, Nico’s mom and the former wielder of the staff! How cool is that?! Add to that the order for a Runaways pilot Hulu just requested in August and we’ve got a very interesting set up!

 

runawaysFor those sitting there going, “Uh- so what?”, you clearly have not read The Runaways. The Runaways was a 2003 comic series from Marvel where a group of 6 kids (mostly teens) from Malibu who were all family friends discover that their parents are actually super villains. Each of their parents kind of fill one of those typical super villain archetypes (the evil wizard, the mad scientist, the crime lord, alien invaders etc). After their kids find out and unlock their own powers- they runaway and try to make things right. The story largely rests on Brian K. Vaughan’s strength as a writer, resulting in an Eisner Award for him for his work on the series (An Eisner is like a comic Emmy. The series actually got it’s second- Jo Chen won one for her work on it in 2009). The cast has strong characters with great arcs, a lot of humor, some gut-wrenching drama, and a lot of fun set ups (time travel, double/triple crosses, life on the street, etc).

 

So- yeah, get pumped! Dr. Strange may be killing it in theaters right now but Marvel has shown that it might be willing to take that plunge with one of its less well known gems! Stay tuned!

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Just-Good-Enough Comics

So I have not reviewed things since the end of November. This is not because I haven’t got submissions- I’ve got plenty. None have jumped out at me as being worthy of review. I get a LOT of submissions (2-3 a week) but recently they’ve all been… good. I don’t mean “holy cow, these are AMAZING!” good- just… good. Like they checked the boxes on the “this is a halfway decent comic” list, but I don’t feel like discussing them would really provide any sort of special insight to my readers. If a comic was truly BAD, I could at least discuss why it’s bad or if it’s something really special I can show it to you all as a hallmark of a GREAT comic… but most have just been “good enough”. So, that’s why I am holding off on reviews at the moment. I think it’s important to speak when it’s important to do so- not just flap your gums.

 

Happy New Years guys!

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Face My Enemy (Continuity Nods)

So I was watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D tonight and I saw Agent May’s phone’s “Recent Call” list. It had a list of calls and I looked into a few of them and they had some interesting little in jokes/nods to old SHIELD characters! Check it out!

Agents of Shield

  • J. Larner: James Larner is an MI-6 operative. Link
  • Agent 60: Agent 60 is double agent working for shield from way back in the golden age. Link
  • Nat: There are a lot of possibilities here but is possibly “Death Head Scott” (Aka: Nat Scott) who was an old school mad scientist criminal. Link
  • Lt. Stone: This is probably Lt. Marcus Stone from a comic series called “Code: Blue”. Link
  • Burk: No idea on this one.
  • S. Johnson: Couldn’t find anything on this one either. Possibly a reference to a few Marvel comic artist or even to Nick Fury Jr. who goes by the name “Marcus Johnson”.
  • M. Huff: There was a SHIELD agent named “Margaret Huff”. She was Nick Fury’s personal secretary. Link
  • Bell: This could be a joke reference to the series  Executive Producer Jeffrey Bell. Could also be one of a few Marvel characters who have bell in their name like Eva Bell (Tempus)
  • Woo: Jimmy Woo is an agent of SHIELD. Link
  • Lt. Crouch: No idea on this one.

If you guys have any idea on the ones I didn’t know anything about, please comment!

Rant: How to Pitch a Small Indie Comic Reviewer

So let’s talk about something that happens with this site a lot: PR outreach. I’d say ICR gets hits up 3-5 times a week. Mostly it’s by people who have read another review on the site and want me to do a review for them. I am very happy to reply but unfortunately I can’t review every comic that comes my way. The proper way to reach out to reviewer is just to shoot them a quick little email. Something like:

“Hey ScottyG,

I just wanted to hit you up and see if you wanted to review my comic about super-powered crabs called, “Capt. Crabs”. Loved your review on [insert comic] and I’ve read [author’s name]’s work a bunch before.

Thanks!

Author’s Name”

 

Quick, personal (shows that he has at least read the site), informal, and doesn’t spoil anything. A reviewer knows you are looking to get reviewed and that you are probably reaching out to a lot of reviewers. They also know you probably didn’t have time to read every post from every one of those reviewers- but showing a little insight is always appreciated.

The wrong way to go about it is to blast a small personal review site like ICR with a generic PR/marketing blast. Something like:

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Author WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE teams up with artist LEONARDO DA VINCI on the new title CAPTAIN JUSTICE AMERICAN. The comic focuses on BRUCE KENT and tells his origin as a billionaire farmer until his family was killed by an exploding planet. Now he fights crime as CAPTAIN JUSTICE AMERICAN with his sidekick BILLY THE KID. He tragically must kill his love interest/arch nemesis MISS DASTARDLY LADY who he learned is evil at the end of this FIRST ISSUE!

We will send you a comic and expect it reviewed sometime in the next two weeks. Please include a link to http://www.CAPTAINJUSTICEAMERICAN.com and make sure to review the first three issue we are sending you.

Thank You,

Bill Shakespeare”

 

Or something like…

 

“Hi! I am currently trying to promote a Kickstarter project for this generic superhero comics! What would happen if bunnies had magic powers and could talk in the real world!”

 

Both really don’t lend themselves well to being reviewed. They are impersonal, show no vested interest in the relationship they are establishing, sometimes outright spoil the comic for the reviewer, and place a lot of restrictions on them. Our review schedules are overbooked as it is, don’t give us a reason to discount you. I mean, you have to know your audience. If it’s some mega-syndicated comic/entertainment/game review site- yeah a PR blast works well but on a small indie review blog- personal works best.

 

I mean I even have the line, “Please don’t blast me with generic press releases… it is so impersonal. I’ll just make fun of you.” right above my contact form and I STILL get PR blasts all the time (FB is the worst!).

 

The indie comic community is pretty small one and blasting a bunch of folks with a press release or something super impersonal is a great way to make sure no one reviews your comic. We want to help though and we want to read good indie comics! This is the part of the sector where the magic happens! So just approach reviews right and we’ll be your best friends in the industry as you launch your comic.

 

Sorry for the rant folks. A lot of review requests come in and are really impersonal and demanding. It is just not the right way to go.