Thursday, May 28, 2009

Zuda review Amber Hale Supermodel/ A bad ass chick with sci-fi roots

Doll house, Bionic woman, and now you

Amber Hale Supermodel is another May zuda comic done by the Black Halo entertainment crew Daren Strange, Lewis Walker, & well known artist Josh Howard. It got 3/5 stars from me competition this month was tough, but I do love the genre. Here is the synopsis: In Earth's future, Amber Hale embodies glamour, elegance, and sex appeal. She’s a household name beloved around the globe. But when her true nature as a product of Thane Enterprises is exposed, the world's admiration turns to controversy and fear.
Now facing dubious notoriety, she struggles to find her own soul. Does she even have one? Should she exist? Does she have a purpose? Surely, her creator, Kael Thane, must know, but he refuses to tell her. Is he protecting her from some dark and horrible truth? Perhaps the mysterious assassins pursuing her have the answers…
Written by Daren Strange and Lewis Walker, and illustrated by Josh Howard, creator of "Dead @ 17", "Amber Hale, Supermodel" tells the story of a woman searching for herself in a world where the human soul hangs on the line and an ever-looming darkness approaches from the shadows.

I don't mind the brand

I see the BHE marker as more of a reminder these various stories have only a couple of universes between them and it is to me acclaim worthy ambitious to want to 'build a universe'. On first blush a title screen on screen 1 might seem like a waste of space. However it's more than just a T & A title card for a cartoon character. In the background you see various images from Amber's world, it was a nice introduction. If your going to be reading it, your going to be reading it in full screen. We see Amber wake up, then follow a mysterious man with a cool visor around the secret base she lives in. It's not a quite opening but it is more of a suspenseful opening than say multiple explosions. It might go on a screen two long, but the art sells it well. Amber saw something hinky going on, then threw a cute tantrum when Kael wouldn't tell her what was going on. Amber fits the classic narrative definition of that meddling kid, who also comes across spoiled and self entitled. Some good character flaws that give her plenty of room for development in the story was a good call on the writers part. The pace isn't lean and mean, but I thought it fit the zuda format very well for the most part. The most impressive screen for art and wordage is screen 6. In panel 2 I loved the silhouettes in the background. The sniper point of view was something I hadn't seen in a while, it's shifting from Amber to Kael was a nice touch. The shifting point of views, along with camera angles and the bang on the last panel set the bar high for the final two screens. On screen 7 the slow-mo bullets looked really unthreating. If Amber has bionic vision a P.O.V. from her looking at the shooter with super-supermodel vision would have been nice, but I can see it was a jam packed screen. Screen 8 was okay with a classic cliff hanger ending, but the fight seemed a bit stilted in a panel or two, and she didn't look that afraid in the last panel. The pacing started to go off after screen 6, the rest of the comic lost some of that suspense the creators had built up with me setting on my chair. It did provide a chance for some cool fight scenes (the football tackle panel aside) a little bit of a 'powers showcase' I liked. The dialogue exchange between Amber and Kael throughout was damn good characterization.

Screen 6 should have been your screen 8

Screen 6 was the most impressive screen in terms of both art composition, characters actions, and great dialogue. So why couldn't the comic have ended there? Screen 6 would have been in my opinion the superior ending because at that point the readers still didn't know Amber could dodge bullets as well as she could. Seeing her Matrix like acrobatics, as a reader I have far less concern seeing her surrounded by gun men at the end of this comic. If it had ended on 6 for all anyone reading knew the creators could of had Amber shot in the head -more of a hook to grab a reader. Seeing how well she handled the opposition I wasn't that concerned about her facing more of the same level of threat. The question of why Huey, Dewey, and Louie (notice the different color visors), want to take Amber out is still a good cliffhanger, it's just more mystery than danger the way it ended. If your not a fan of the genre, it might fulfil too many expectations of readers. I enjoyed the genre in general and this story in particular, and I believe others will as well.

She's got legs and she knows how to use them

It happens that with some comics on zuda you think "if only a few more screens it might have grabbed me more", well that happened with this comic. Josh Howard is an amazing artist and the BHE crew gets better as they go along. First a fourth place finish, now third or second, a comic which connected with a wider audience would probably have them neck and neck for the winner's circle. I don't know about Howard, but I do know BHE has another submission in the works that I'm looking forward to. I believe BHE are only going to get better as time goes by, I hope to see more from these creators on zuda (Josh Howard too), touching upon even more genres.

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