The Ares Imperative is a Zuda contestant done by Steve Ekstrom, Mikael Bergkvist & Jesse Turnbull. The art's good, the story is exposition talking head monotony, and this post is expanding on my comments at MPD57's blog. Here is the Synopsis: It’s the early 21st Century and corporations continue to manipulate world governments as emerging quasi-religious science cults and techno-centric international terrorists are beginning to develop their own biological weapons mapped out in human genomes. Special Agent Adam Geist operates covertly within the framework of the ultra-classified PROJECT ARES division of the C.I.A. under the supervision of Deputy Director Ted Gerard and his assistant Maxwell Clearwater. Geist does not fully comprehend the processes, which he has undergone as a part of PROJECT ARES but numerous studies have revealed that alien mitochondria have asserted control of his DNA—altering his higher intelligence functions and his nervous system receptor processing speed. He has become sensitive to electromagnetic fields and has developed heightened senses, which include something akin to Wi-Fi reception. His skin is capable of rapid, localized cellular density adaptation—making him virtually bulletproof. Due to the secret nature of his existence and the fear that a “super-man” would create in light of the unstable relations between the U.S. and other world powers, Geist is under strict orders: he must eliminate anyone—friend or foe—who learns of his uncanny abilities. Sadly, as he grows in power, his own humanity diminishes from the actualization of his computer-like brain—and now, evidence is beginning to surface that his own strange biology may, in fact, be malevolent in nature…
Refitted pages have only ever really worked for Supertron I think
According to Mikael the story was reformatted to fit Zuda, which could explain the never ending word balloons, and lack of any appreciable action. Thankfully the letters are easy to read. Also according to Mikael and Steve later on the action elements increase significantly. I don't want say you can only really judge by what you see in the 8 screens. Their is also an element of promise where a reader has to be their own judge about what they can expect should the story continue. The impending coolness promise factor wasn't there for me with this strip. It really is just one long exposition conversation until you get to the last screen corpses -and the characters talk over that. The red Hexagon's showing Geist's mental powers at work was a neat design element. I couldn't help but think the blabbing buddy banter could have been further reformatted to pick up the pace. I expect a little set-up with the Kane future bad guy back story, but it continued on for the rest of the comic. The art is good, but their is a limit to the number of interesting visuals you can squeeze out of different angles at a abandoned factory. A chemistry lesson didn't make for a grabbing read, but was kind of a hint Chemical Lad was the writer's favorite Legionnaire. "According to our field agents two unidentified middle eastern males had been making soft inquires into purchasing this refinery. The local real estate agent who had been sent to give the tour of the grounds had been reported missing by his wife three days ago. His remains were found a meter from the trap door to this room." All that one sided conversation between two talking heads didn't have to be as uninteresting as it was. This was a perfect place for a voice over. You know we see the images of a real estate agent's body being found, those suspicious looking characters, cut to/back as Ted talks to add some new images. For that matter a few flashback panels being talked over of Kane could have helped show the villain and make this a better comic. Ted doing the voice over thing for different and varied images could have made this comic so much better to me as a reader. It's hard to get me excited about the mystery angle when it's just two guys talking. These creators had the opportunity for some really interesting images and they didn't do it -why?
The Six Million Dollar Man would be worth $29,679,529.41 in today's dollars
You can play it safe in a Zuda submission, or you can put yourself out there on either side of the spectrum. Meaning you can do the half/half split the difference option when it comes to exposition vs. action. The other route is to focus on the 8 screens being mostly a fight scene, or mostly talking. If you have a lead character who is bullet proof, and only 8 screens to grab readers interest, might not be a bad idea to have Adam get shot... The last two screens deal with this story's second unit C.I.A. director Jim, and Carl. The art is very good on these screens, I liked the way to snow effect was handled. I don't know anyone who still smokes a pipe, but I liked Carl's look of surprise in panel 3. I have to give Turnbull credit, he does an excellent job on the colors. It was also a good scene to end on, but the cliff-hanger dread of the dead bodies was muted thanks to the excess wordage/repetitive imagery it took to get there. The comic had two many possibilities for good storytelling in the 8 screens it didn't take advantage of, to be in the running for my vote on the grounds of future promise.