Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kharon: Scourge of Atlantis Zuda review/ I could see the same thing happening in a EC comic

Kharon: Scourge of Atlantis is another March Zuda comic done by Jim Shelley and Pierre Villeneuve.
Here is the synopsis: Journey with us back to an age when the golden spires of Atlantis cast long, dark shadows across the world --where ambition and achievement have been replaced by apathy and arrogance. The unlucky multitude not born in the city by the sea are considered outlander filth and treated like chattel. As slaves they spend their lives building lavish temples with huge, bloodstained altars. All the while, the cruel and decadent Highborn Atlantean Senate plot to expand their domain and wage full scale genocide on those races they deem inferior. Now comes the outlanders' darkest hour as the Highborn Senate has decreed that all Atlantis must be made pure. The Royal Guard drive the outlanders further and further into the barrens, mercilessly destroying those who resist. Unskilled in the ways of war, the outlanders need a leader to unite them. What they get is Kharon -- a man with a personal vendetta against the Highborn. Driven by a destiny that none would envy, he will take up a flag of hate and carve his way to the royal city with blood and fury. Our story begins with a Kharon entering a cursed valley where an Atlantean garrison is stationed. He brings with him proof of a murder, a promise of vengeance...and a declaration of war. Kharon will have to defeat the entire legion of highly trained Atlantean soldiers if he is to continue his one-man campaign against the empire. Will he be victorious or will he fall victim to the curse of the valley of death?
Sometimes I like the art better than the story, other times I like the story better than the art. This is one of those other times. As has been mentioned before Pierre's work does have that 80's cartoon/ cell animation vibe to it. I enjoy his art work it just didn't fit this story for me. I don't bow at the alter of photo-realism in comics (or tracing depending on your point of view), but more detail isn't a bad thing. On the first screen their wasn't a whole lot of detail to be found in the mountains behind Kharon. This didn't surprise me the lack of details here in the background helped to put the focus on the lead character just as much as the two crossed spears symmetrical panel effect did. The problem was with screen two. No not the text boxes (this time ;) ) Jim did a find job writing the captions for them. The problem was this whole screen was an establishing shot of the little hamlet, but their was still no more detail there for the mountains. We see nice shadow work on the mountains, and a really neat reflection in a lake, but theirs a problem with the rest. The Ash white mountains look like snow caps, or really big rocks. Maybe this was done (lack of details) to show perspective/ distance, but it really threw me off. Some places the grass grows, some it doesn't I just didn't like the look of the geography, and that was the first thing I saw. Considering the subject matter I was expecting Savage Sword of Conan meets Tales from the Crypt in the art. This is one of those comics where if you had more than 8 screens, I might have got into the grove with the art, by knowing more about the future tone of the story. Maybe you just needed more screens to let me see everything mesh, but you don't get that during the contest.

Their were some very well done action scenes, Pierre did an all star job on. The first panel on screen 5 (and all the rest of the page too) I really enjoyed. Remember the way they used to handle flashbacks on the Highlander TV show? Extreme close up of a character's eyes, then FLASHBACK!!!! we get the same thing here. Very impressive panel layout from Pierre, to show the events that helped lead up to this with ultimate amount of drama impact for the readers. Jim's text was very well written here, and a great compliment to the scenes. Great expressive art to show the fear and horror, and the text gave it very somber, chilling, airs. Screen 6 isn't a I Spit on your Grave/ Last House on the Left homage -thankfully. It was very well done with the art and narration. Screen 7 was another 'cool as hell' screen. The bad guy general touching the scar on his face and his words started to bring that darker feel. The sequential art for the skeleton coming out of the bag was excellent! A necromancer as a hero, damn cool more on this after the bold. The last screen text set up a good mystery/ action hook. With them bones looking for vengeance, and our lead talking about his true goal.???

Necromancers aren't usually heroes because of that whole: are you now or have you ever been a necrophiliac question???

The dual genre's listed for the comic are fantasy/ action adventure, so that doesn't necessarily imply the story is going to get too dark. When your main character can raise others from the dead that does imply a slightly morbid/ horror genre streak in the story. Which made me think darker more vague art might be more appropriate. That been said their were some absolute stand out screens I mentioned before Villeneuve should get accolades for. The whole revenge of the bones segment screamed EC style revenge story to me and I really enjoyed it. It is a novel idea -to me at least- for a heroes powers so it was a real highlight to me reading this. If it just wasn't for them damn mountains.... :)

Enjoy the Bronze age goodness/ some nifty examples from the comic to show you what I mean.

I loved the who, what, when, where, why Marvel style intro text on the first screen. The high concept character set-up was also a nice nod to the best of the best of the bronze age. The tone of dialogue made a great impression on me, it was handled well with all the characters. The colors were pretty good, and the letters were very readable. This is a pretty critical review -for me-, but I think you might only have needed a few more screens to show me the art/words really coming together. 3/5 stars and a fav.


  1. RKB - I just wanted to say, this is much like all of your reviews, in that I thought it was both well written and valid. Many of the people who review zuda entries do little more than say - "Not my type of thing" which really doesn't tell anyone much. I really appreciate the time and thought you put into your reviews!

  2. I really appreciate the time and work you put into your comics Jim & Pierre, even if it doesn't quite come together for me.
    If I was in the contest and someone said not my type of thing, I'd want to know why? so that explains my too long for Zuda reviews.