Posts Tagged ‘Image comics’

Proof volume 1: Goatsucker

July 14, 2008

This book was so bad that I’m not sure where to begin.  So many things wrong with this book, so little space in which to complain.  Well, I guess I could complain a lot since this is my blog, but believe it or not I do try to keep these entries around 500 words. 

Nothing says "family fun" like a variation of "suck" on the cover

Nothing says "family fun" like a variation of "suck" on the cover

Perfunctory plot summary: Proof is about a government agency that investigates urban legends IN THE REAL WORLD!  Bigfoot works for this agency, and is kinda the main character but not really since the author isn’t sure who to focus on.  Anyway, Bigfoot (who goes by Proof, which is short for Prufrock) searches out cryptids (creatures (like yetis and such) who have been seen by for whom no hard evidence exists) and tries to figure out his past.

Things start to go wrong for this book in the author’s introduction, where Alexander Grecian sets such a somber tone that at first I thought there was no way he could be serious.  Right away we’re told that this isn’t really a comic book because there weren’t going to be any fanciful explanations for things.  Fairies exist, but they’re not magical so let’s all get over that rubbish.  But then Grecian tells us that there is magic in the world and oh look my brain just fell out.

From there the book continues to take itself entirely too seriously.  Page after page is cluttered with “Cryptoids,” little factoids about sasquatch or paintball guns or whatever the hell else Grecian decided we need to know about.  Naturally, this helps drain the book of any kind of fun and narrative flow because nothing drags you out of a story like reading useless trivia.

I’d like to say that there are some fun ideas in here, but I’m not sure I can do that with any confidence.  The government keeping fairy tale creatures locked up was done better in Shrek, but Grecian adds extinct animals (like the dodo bird) to the mix for a little spice.  He tells us that fairies aren’t nice and that they’ll try to eat people on sight, but then we see normal folks traipsing through their habitat without a care in the world.

This volume focuses on the chupacabra, but it isn’t any version of that beastie that I was familiar with.  This one is more like the Bug in the first Men in Black; it kills people and wears their skin for a while.  Sadly, the chupacabra is the most interesting character in the book and that’s mostly because of its “clothing” choices.  Interestingly, I don’t remember seeing any goats.  Not one.

But even here I think the creators dropped the ball.  Our villain starts off ambiguous and creepy and violent.  It stays that way for a good part of the book, even if the violence is off panel.  But then Proof basically talks it into giving itself up and our story is over.  Sure, the thing has a mysterious past and seems to know all about Bigfoot.  And sure it decides to wear the skin of a new recruit’s mother (At least I think the dude was recruited by the end of the story.  It’s a little vague.  You know, just what you want from a first volume.).  But by the end of the book I didn’t care, and that’s partly because I really wanted to stop looking at the pages.

The art just plain sucks.  It’s so muddy and ill defined that I almost think the book would’ve been better off without an artist.  Really.  Word balloons arranged on blank pages might’ve been better.  Everything is so sketchy and muddy that it’s often impossible to tell what’s happening and the characters are so ugly that you have to wonder if Riley Rossmo has an undiagnosed eye condition.  For example, something happens to one of the male fairies, but for the life of me I couldn’t tell what that something was.  The other characters certainly reacted to it and made a big fuss over whatever it was, but I’ll be damned if I knew what they were reacting to.

I wanted this book to be good, since there’s a lot of potential here, so maybe it’s a victim of my heightened expectations.  For what it’s worth, other reviewers seem to like it quite a bit.  Personally, I don’t see volume 2 finding its way to my bookshelf.

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Aqua Lung! er, Leung!

June 24, 2008

OK, so that joke’s out of the way, right? Right.

Turtle vs. kid vs. eels. Who ya got?Aqua Leung is the first in a planned series of graphic novels by Mark Andrew Smith and Paul Maybury. Yes, it has a pretty horrible name. Luckily, the name is the worst thing about it.

(But honestly, the boy is born underwater and his mom names him Aqua. That is simply ridiculous. I look forward to naming my next child “Earth” or “Oxygen” or “Atmosphere.”)

The story focuses on Aqua/Adam Leung, a young boy who was sent by his Atlantean parents to live on land because it was too dangerous for him to remain with his soon-to-be-deposed/murdered royal family. Take one part Superman (being sent away from home before something bad happens), add one part Batman (parents killed (2 sets of them!) = motivation), mix in some Hercules (Aqua must complete a series of tasks/labors to reclaim his throne), add a dash of Lord of the Rings (two huge armies fighting it out, the action only stopping to focus on a few important characters), a pinch of The Empire Strikes Back (Aqua enters a cave to confront himself), and top it off with a whole lotta Aquaman (natch) and you’ve got yourself a book.

If this doesn’t sound all that original, there’s probably a reason for that. While I’m sure Smith is the first person to throw all those tropes into one blender and hit frappe, the fact remains that there aren’t a lot of new ideas here.

It doesn’t help that the characters are pretty standard fantasy types and not particularly interesting on top of that. I didn’t really like Aqua very much; partly because he seems like a brat and partly because we don’t spend enough time getting to know him before he’s thrust back into the underseas action. The only time I cared about a character was when Smith spends a little bit of time giving us some insight into his life only to kill him later on *cough* Joss Whedon move *cough*.

Artist Paul Maybury’s work is a cross between Michael Avon Oeming and Bryan Lee O’Malley, but only if those two dudes got together and actually had a child. What would the result of such love that dare not speak its name look like? Probably an artist who channels both of them but still hasn’t quite mastered sequential art. There are moments where I did a double take because the work on the page was so pretty, but there were too many times where the action simply wasn’t clear. All I really ask for from an artist is easy to follow storytelling, and Maybury isn’t always up to that task.

Too often panels were muddied with scribbles that were meant to convey detail but only served up confusion. Important moments were frequently left to the reader to figure out for themselves, so I was forced to read dialogue and caption boxes over and over as I squinted at the pages. There’s real promise here, and I say so because I compared Maybury to two artists I like, but unless the art becomes a lot clearer the second time around I most likely won’t be back for volume 3.

So I guess my final thoughts on this book could be summed up thusly: Ehh….it’s on the disappointing side of OK. So much so that I’m not sure I’ll pick up volume 2.

While I can’t be sure that this book will succeed, I hope it does. If only to validate my feelings that graphic novels aren’t killing comics.