Another hero triumvirate's story is told
Sides is another May Zuda comic by Zuda vet Alexander Diochon, which after a number of reads still ended up with 3/5 stars from me. Here is the synopsis: Love Morely and his mentor Walter Grim are two of the few individuals who have access to the other side. Like those before them, with access to this realm they attempt to discover its nature and effect on their world. On one such trip Love encounters what they refer to as an Echo: a person whose form is native to the other side but their mind is that of a "regular" person. Unlike the other Echoes he has met, Love has no idea how important Annabell will be. Especially as they come to realize that this new realm is being changed and it is someone from the human side that is changing it. It ultimately comes down to the Love Morely, Walter Grim and Annabell. They will have to confront this agent of change and help restore the natural order. Or will they choose to break it completely?
The colors that's the thing!
It sometimes happens that a comic misses the mark with a reader completely, this is one of those times. My initial reaction to Sides was a 3/5 star rating, but upon seeing it's 'out of the gate' place in the ranks I wondered what I missed? I went back and did a fair number of re-readings of the comic to give it another chance. My reaction didn't change, but I did figure out what put me off in my first reading. The acid trip day glow colors of the other side, along with the tan, brown, brown-green color palette of the 'real world' here mixed as well in the submission as oil and water in real life. Color schemes in a comic matter more and more to me as time goes on. Having characters whose skin tone was the same as wall paper, city streets, and a knitting basket was too much for me. I can only guess Alexander wanted the colors in the physical world to be as understated or bland as possible, to make the other side's spunky rainbow pallette stand out all the more. Going too far on both sides of the spectrum really hindered my enjoyment of this comic. Some 4th cousin to the garden variety color of blue forms the base of the other-side. People who have crossed over have a nice semblance of Casper/ the living get a change in clothes and become some shade of fuchsia. I figure all the color changes will be an important part of the story telling dynamic. The costume change for Morely from buttoned down suit, to something hip and modern age on the other side was one of the most interesting things about the comic to me. I did wonder what the dynamics of this were? Their was an extreme clash in the (what if a flamboyant rainbow threw up?) coloring of this comic strip. We got a page and a half of the regular tan, very tan world. Seeing more of the 'regular' world would have made the other side more impactful. Conversely starting off with the other side and readers more curious about where we are, then using the 'regular world' as a denouncement/ segue to what happens on screen 9 would have grabbed me more as a reader. Seeing the drab tan-ness of their regular world at the very end of the story would have been a interesting twist in the format. As it is we didn't see enough of the normal side to make the contrasts between the two grab me/ hook me as a reader. It's the difference in expectations: nothing really to see here lets move on to the cool (and it was very cool) fight scene vs. okay you've seen what goes on in the other side here's a hint to show you the 'normal' side which is just as interesting for different reasons. The interactions of the two worlds is the draw, and it didn't go over that well with me.
Fighting and dialogue scenes that are damn cool
Generally speaking a safe course for Zuda is about equal parts of talking heads and action. It helps if you can do both well, and business starts to pick up in Sides on screen 5. One of the best things about the comic is well done dialogue that's gets some exposition out there along with character development. Annabell has some great interactions with Morely on screen's 3 and 4. It goes a long way towards insightful characterization for these characters, and Annabell yelling is a funny moment. Screen 5 is the beginning of the fight scene with a panel layout that made these characters actions very fluid. if you got the art chops to do a cool fight scene, then do a cool fight scene -that's what you get here. It helps that the bad guy here reminds me of the old Mandroid from Marvel. A particular well done action sequence is screen 6 it flows easy for the reader. The defeat of the monster was as interesting as Annabell's dialogue for different reasons and the screen composition was well done. Their is a quiet cliff hanger ending with a question, which is kind of a let down after the great action. If you would have left Morely in mortal peril it would have been more grabbing. The structure of the story not coming together for me as a reader (along with the colors) is why the comic stayed a 3/5 with me.
My view is the minority opinion
My view in perspective, it's apparent by more ways than one this story grabbed a number of Zuda readers. Alex's last comic got a 4/5 stars and a fav from me/ I'm sure someone who gave Problems a 3/5 star rating voted for Sides. I was tougher on Sides than I might otherwise have been because all of the story elements I enjoy where there, but it didn't grab me as a reader in spite of all that. On the technical side the colors actively repealed me as a reader. The art (colors aside) is fantastic and most of the dialogue is very fine too. How many times have you seen some creative work and it just did nothing for you when you expected to like it? That's what happened with me and Sides. After seeing the 2nd place early rank I went back over it to find what I missed, and my view still didn't change. It is apparent that a number of Zuda readers would love to see this continue, so congratulations to Alexander on such a good start.