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 – 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

All Winner Society

19543_142036bAll Winner Society

Staff: Rodney Lockett, Joe DeSantos, Lawrenz Lano

Overview:

Generic characters, doing generic things, spouting generic lines, for generic reasons.

Review:

So today I got my teeth on the “All Winners Society” by Iron Gate Comics. I like superhero stories and I dig team ups. So the name of this comic reminded me of All-Winners Squad, an obscure comic team made in the late 40s so I figured I’d give it a read. The cover looks schlocky and a little low budget so I’m expecting great and/or terrible things from this one so I’m going in excited for one of those two.

Art:

So let’s get this out of the way- the art is on the low end. It’s decent enough, but the graphic design work on this comic is just downright terrible. The cover has difference clouds rendered by Photoshop for the background, the names of characters are hard to read over stuff, generic fonts are used, and everything looks like it was laid out by a 1st year graphic design student. I don’t normally comment on coloring in particular but they just decided to slap one color on characters and add shading via their lines. Not a single use of complex colors is in this comic and they make liberal use of high contrast primaries- which is just ugly looking. Heck- on page 9 they just have a character who is entirely colored one color (and later color them more complexly).

I’m also not entirely convinced some of these images were not just traced. The poses seem stilted, expressions awkward, and nothing seems to cohesively bind a scene together. And that’s unfortunate- because some panels are much better set up. This comic is obviously a throwback to golden age comics but it’s really not picking from the best parts of it. I don’t think the low-budget art was a “design choice” but a matter forced on them. There are issues with perspective (page 12 is a good example), with consistent proportions, backgrounds, the sequence of actions, and a whole host of other things. Most of the character designs are clearly just pastiches of other mainstream characters or just uninspired. I really went into this comic expecting good things but it was just a nightmare.
The lettering is as bad as the artwork. It’s cramped, small-texted, and shoved right up against the edges. You’d think the letterer had never heard of smallcaps for their text layout and every dialogue balloon is laid out using the rounded corner shape creator from Illustrator.

Writing / Story:

Our setup is as generic as the artwork. We get a hefty dump of exposition dropped on us on the first page. It is 1944, the NAZIs have time travel, it is being testing, team has to stop them. The dialogue is painful, most spoken dialogue is expolistional, you can predict every action, the attempts at character development are superficial, and it all just falls flat.

The problem with a team-up book is that you don’t get a chance to connect with characters. You have over a dozen characters running around with little or no  introduction (mostly the latter). They are generic characters, doing generic things, spouting generic lines, for generic reasons. It lacks any sense of subtlety or complexity- even by Golden Aged standards .

The overall plot is really just one big fight scene- the generic good guys vs the generic bad guys. (We don’t know WHY one group is evil. Just that they decided it was) That might have been interesting but we don’t know (and are not told) what the character’s powers are thus we have no idea of the stakes. If one character can take bullets to the chest (like we see on page 13), should we be scared when someone else is shot at? Hell- by the end of it I wasn’t even sure who was on what team. The scenes just flip between timelines with no heads up and with so many characters you just met- you just have to try to keep track of who is doing what to who is what timeline. Sometimes they remember to mark it (see page 4 and 20) but other times they just skip it entirely (like why wasn’t it on page 7 during the establishing shot of the “modern” team. Only learned the date on page 23) It’s a total mess.
I will note that it was a nice touch to see some characters from other publishers (changed enough for legal reasons) on page 21. Always a fan of Black Terror for some reason. Not sure it adds much here- it’s a bizarre choice to have a “Ga! I know that guy! He is supposed to be Cat Man!” moment during a somber scene. Kind of a tonal disconnect.

Overall:

The end of this comic notes that “This project started out as a bunch of strangers playing Cities of Heroes and having a common interest in golden age heroes.” and that REALLY shows. It’s a super-generic slugfest with characters we have no emotional attachment to that someone REALLY wanted to make. This comic suffers from the all too common “generic hero comic” syndrome. They think putting together the same tropes that they see in superhero comics makes it a good comic and it always lacks it. At least superhero comics like iHero TRY to do something new (even if they totally fail at doing it). Now I’ve reviewed comics that use this premise and have a lot of fun with it. One of my favorite comics like this was The Misadventures of Electrolyte and The Justice Purveyors and you can DO the campy pulp-era aesthetic well, even if your art isn’t outstanding (see Crunch: Revenge) so long as you know what you are doing. This is an amature effort- a novice playing with concepts they’ve seen rather than inherently understand. The creative process has to generate these tropes- the tropes should not dictate the creative process.

Metrics:

Art: 3/10 [Not good.]

Lettering: 4/10 [Legible.]

Plot: 2/10 [Generic, uninteresting, slugfest.]

Novelty: 1/10 [Everything is generic.]

Overall: 2.25/10

Link to Product

The Ultimate Alliance

The Ultimate Alliance

Staff: Joey Haas and Megan Rosa

Overview:

I got to use the line, “The writing reminds me of a fart joke.” in this review.

Review:

Ever sit around with your friend and make stupid jokes that only you find funny but laugh yourself silly over? That’s pretty much what we’ve got today- except someone took the time and effort to draw it out as a comic. Love it or hate it- it’ll be an interesting ride. So strap in kiddies we are jumping into “The Ultimate Alliance” by JH Publishing.

Art:

So let’s get this out of the way- this art could have been drawn by a talented 7 year old. It’s not good and I get the idea that it’s not trying to be good. This is a fun passion project and I can’t give them shit over the fact that they are not professional artists. Hell- I don’t know if having professional quality art would have improved it. If anything it kind of accents the kind of low-budget schlock-comic ascetic. Intentional or not, it kind of works. It almost approaches the level of being “so bad it’s good” but I can’t bestow that moniker to it because I’m only like 75% sure that’s really what they were going for.

 

One thing of note for this is that, while the artwork is not great- I’m never confused about what is going on. It’s simple, gets the point across, and ties into the written aspect of the comic. Sure the artist might have a boiling hatred for the art of correct perspective, proportions, and consistency but at least I knew what the hell was going on. Some comics, particularly more artsy ones, often have dark and confusing scenes in them.

 

It’s a full color comic and it’s light and cartoony and the lettering matches. The dialogue boxes are rough squares with vibrant stock colors behind them. While it never gets to the point where it’s hard to read it’s not exactly stellar. However, see the above paragraph for my thoughts on the quality of artistic elements of this comic.

 

Writing / Story:

The writing reminds me of a fart joke. Everyone considers it really crude, laughs in their head about it, but is too polite to laugh out loud. Is it good? Not really. Is it entertaining? Sure, why not. I mean we’ve all got that stupid idea bounding around our head that when you tell your friend about it they laugh. Does that mean it should go into a comic for widestream consumption? Probably not. The comic is filled with in-jokes you probably won’t get, simplistic (even crude) humor, and a complete detachment from the expectations you have about a good comic. It kind of reminds me of those little golden-age humor comics that were basically all about slapstick humor and bawdy jokes.  I’ll admit- I chuckled once or twice but I wouldn’t call it ‘good’ per se.

 

I will give it some points however. It does some things right that a lot of indie comics don’t. Obviously there is the tone- a lot of indie superhero comics straddle the line between wanting to be serious and wanting to make fun of comics. When that happens it kind of ends up in this weird middle ground where it’s not funny and it’s not really serious either. This comic commits the to “screw it- let’s just make bad puns and fly around in an ox-copter” end of the spectrum and I can respect that. However clumsily it does it, it also does something kind of brilliant with its pacing. It takes a few pages to set up the characters (in their civilian identity) than just does straight up “information” page on them once they become their alter egos. It works better than you’d think. I mean they are one note characters, but at least they introduce them right. None of this “EXPOSITION DUMP” that a lot of indie hero comics are so fond of putting in their comics. Short, sweet, and to the point- even if handled like a mad ape.

 

Overall:

Ultimately this is a weird, very personally motivated, in-joke of a humor comic. It’s one of those things that I couldn’t avoid reviewing- it brings me back to my roots. I LIKE to review comics with bad elements to them and shout about the good parts. This one was a perfect fit. It is REALLY dumb and has pretty solidly bad art but it was clearly a labor of love and it knew what it wanted to be. I’m not going to recommend it or give it high praise but, you know what, it’s better than you’ll think it is when you look at the first page.

 

Metrics:

Art: 2/10 [Let’s say it’s not great]

Lettering: 4/10 [I mean it’s legible.]

Plot: 5/10 [Honestly? Not bad for humor comic.]

Novelty: 6/10 [It’s half in jokes but at least it tried]

Overall: 4.25/10

Link to Website

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

 

The Dredger

dredger-coverThe Dredger

Staff: Jeremy Wilfinger, Crizam Zamora, Natalia Marques

Overview:

The Dredger is a well-written, well-illustrated, clearly-loved, comic that fails to excite with its premise.

Review:

Hey guys, ready for the next round of reviews? We’ve got two new writers (Kayla and Thomas) coming on board soon at Indie Comic Review (in addition to yours truly) so get excited for that! Anyway today we’ve got “The Dredger” so let’s jump on in!

Art:

Art looks downright professional grade, but not on like the “high art” end of the spectrum. Looks like a typical comics circa 2000-2010 in terms of style. A brighter palette and while things are not perfect- they are a cut above the rest. There are some really nice little bits of details that bring the world to life. This is particularly true when you see some of Ben’s photographs near the end and it’s a really solid use of the visual medium of comics.

Lettering, the hallmark of a professional comic, is on point. I could see a handful of instances where the text was probably too close to the edge of the balloons but only a critic would notice such things (see the lower right panel of page 25 for an example).

Writing / Story:

Linguistically I don’t know if heavy accents were the right choice. On the one hand they do add to the notion of diverse people thrown together into a common situation but, on the other hand, it makes it a little hard to read sometimes. There were a few well delivered lines that made me chuckle, which is a sign that the writer knows what they were doing.

In terms of plot it’s an authoritarian future where a weaponized virus has been released into a major population center. I gotta say- I get where they are going with a comic like this but… it’s honestly kind of boring. Like I kept finding myself waiting for the “big reveal” and it never came. It was kind of a let down. We have some really big build up and decent writing for what amounts to a “the government is kinda evil” story. I was getting a bit of a 28 days later vibe from it towards the middle but the premise just didn’t grab me. Maybe it picks up and evolves into something more interesting later but right now? I don’t think I’d read issue two to find out what it was.

Overall:

Ultimately this is a well-written, well-illustrated, clearly-loved, comic that was written as a message (see the Frederick Douglass quote up front if you somehow missed it). However, it fails to excite. It is one of those slow build comics that never really builds to anything groundbreaking. Now, never every comic needs to be high-octane action packed into every panel (I’ve liked some slow) but this one just kind of never gets anywhere. Sure things happens and the story progresses but I didn’t feel engaged by the premise. Like I said- it’s got all the right ingredients other than the premises’ engagement to me personally- so give it a read. Maybe it’ll have a profound impact on you.

Metrics:

Art: 7/10 [Pro level]

Lettering: 6/10 [Decent]

Plot: 5/10 [Solid dialogue]

Novelty: 3/10 [Just didn’t grab me at all.]

Overall: 5.25/10

Link to Website

Atomic Thunderbolt (TJ Comics)

at_covercolor_txtless-662x1024Atomic Thunderbolt

Staff: Kevin Powers, Matt Gaudio, Donna Gregory

Overview:

A golden-age revival for the ages!

Review:

Today we’re reading the Atomic Thunderbolt by TJ comic. Cover’s super gold age retro and I know exactly why! The Atomic Thunderbolt is a 1946 comic character published by the Regor Company and, unless I’m wildly off base, this comic is a revitalization of him! See, a lot of characters have fallen into the public domain (Check out the Public Domain Superhero Wiki for more on that) and creators can do their own take on them. There was a beautiful effort done by Dynamite Entertainment back in 2008 called “Project Superpowers” with gorgeous art by Alex Ross himself. I am a huge proponent of the Public Domain (and trying to solve all the issues it has) so I jumped at the chance to review this comic. The cover itself is a straight up homage to the original cover, though some with modern sensibilities. I’ll be honest- I am super jealous, I’ve wanted to do something like this for years. Let’s see how it worked out for them!

Art:

So TJ Comics kept the character design of William ‘Willy the Wharf Rat’ Burns and it’s a design HEAVILY steeped in golden aged sensibilities and I kind of dig that. Internally the art is damn impressive. It’s something I’d expect to see in a major publisher’s release. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting that. The credit page left a lot to be desired and I thought I was in for a stinker. Just a weird jump in quality. Anyway, it’s full color and beautifully rendered. There are a few times I would have chosen a different texture or something but that doesn’t detract from the art of this comic. There are some excellent uses of perspective and visual movement cues. There are occasional anatomy/scaling issues and the occasional odd facial expression, but nothing distracting (and still better than some mainstreams). See the top of page 27 for what I’m talking about.

If there is a weakness in this comic’s visuals it’s the lettering. The dialogue balloons are fine but the narration boxes occasionally are a bit crowded and the choice to go with some vibrant, stock, colors as backgrounds for them in a few scenes where most things are super desaturated while in flashback is really out of place. Otherwise it’s fine.

Writing / Story:

It was a bold choice for the comic to set itself in the late 1940s (post WWII) like the original Atomic Thunderbolt. It’s a bit of a double edge sword for this comic because it is a very fun time period/aesthetic to play with but it also means they are re-treading a lot of the original Atomic Thunderbolt material (not that anyone read it).

I thought it was a clever little detail that they brought up Archie Masters, the American Crusader, at one point- he was another golden age (now public domain) superhero. I looked into TJ comics and found that they actually had not only a modern reboot of the American Crusader but also a modern equivalent to the Atomic Thunderbolt in their “ExtraOrdinary” comic line. That, honestly, take a little of the “umph” out of this comic for me but it’s also kind of nice to know that they are really dedicated to the premise so it evens out in the end.

The comic’s laid out in a few thoughtful way- we have people talking about the Atomic Flash for a large part of the comic and, other than the cover, we don’t see him in a good clear shot for a long time. There is a lot of thinly veiled exposition dumps in the beginning but it’s actually set up in a fun enough way, even being aware of it, it didn’t detract from it. Some of the dialogue, couched in a very 1940s style, is a bit heavy on the lingo- even more so than before (like “We was workin’ a job fer the chief. Guy broke da boss’ jaw and send him up tha river.”). It’s not super distracting and if I didn’t get at least a little of that in a 1940s comic I think I’d have been disappointed but it’s something that caught my eye once or twice.

As a side note, I always find it funny when publishers of superhero comics come up with words to describe them other than “suphero” or “superhuman”. I get there are trademarks on metahuman and stuff but I’ve come across like ubermensch and whatnot. Today’s new verity of it is “extrahuman”. What, did god give them two scoops of human when they were born?

The pacing is a bit off honestly. The beginning was very fast paced but then I had to slog though a just painful stretch of dialogue between two men talking about the Atomic Lightning’s background in excruciating detail. It should have probably been summed up in about a page, but instead we get about 4 text heavy pages where we are told (rather than shown) the protagonist’s personality and background.

Once the plot gets going it’s pretty solid. I’m not in love with the Atomic Thunderbolt’s ridiculously corny, straight-out-of-a-comic-book, ultra altruistic, dialogue/personality. I get they are trying to subvert it but no one acts like that- not even in comics. That was bad writing back in the golden age and it’s bad writing here. They do kind of use it to a good end plot wise but it just seems like he is supposed to be this perfect mimicry of a golden age hero and it’s a little distracting.

As a fun aside- this comic includes two high res (or as high resolution as they could get) comics at the end; the only two actual Atomic Thunderbolt comics ever made. After reading them I realized they slipped the two bumbling doctors and their raven into the main comic as a flashback and chuckled a bit at it- pretty clever.

Overall:

Overall… I liked it. It’s a great little comic, introduced a lot of the good stuff and has some great art. It’s a fun revitalization of a golden age character and EXACTLY the sort of thing the public domain was intended for. The comic can be a little slow at time and I’m still not sold on the main character’s boy scout personality (to the point even superman would call him too altruistic and clean) but it’s damn well worth a read!

Metrics:

Art: 8/10 [Professional grade]

Lettering: 4/10 [Decent with a few minor missteps]

Plot: 6/10 [Good introduction]

Novelty: 6/10 [Great use of public domain and setting, relies too heavily on existing plot elements to be really unique]

Overall: 6/10

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