Saturday, September 26, 2009

Zuda review Revenge of the Homicidal Pumpkins/ If the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes cartoon had been awesome, it would have been like this

Revenge of the Homicidal Pumpkins is a September Zuda comic done by Shannon Cronin, jo2pa2, tinkfan83. It got a favorite from me, here is the synopsis: After a series of freak accidents occur in the small town of Douglas, Colorado, 13-year-old Robbie Jarvis soon discovers the deaths were anything but accidental. Convinced that homicidal pumpkins are planning to kill everyone in town on Halloween night, Robbie must find a way to save the lives of thousands of people. The thing is, no one believes him! Can Robbie save the people of Douglas? Will the homicidal pumpkins succeed in their massacre? Will I win this contest so we can find out? You decide!

Turn a comedy into a horror comic and get a excellent read

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes was a cool comedy spoof of a monster horror film. Revenge of the Homicidal Pumpkins is a cool horror comic that flips the premise and makes pumpkins scary as hell. What got me right away was the use of an overhead establishing scene shot. Backgrounds aren't always a strong point for Zuda comics, so when I see them well done, I notice. The letters are easy to read. The colors fit the story perfectly. The story and art are both excellent. I also really enjoyed the panel layout on screen one, and right off invoking the old horror standard of 'don't go outside to investigate nothing' -yes this is my go-to genre. We don't see much of that poor pumpkin farmer, but the dialogue/character design for him makes a reader want to know hoe he's going to meet his end. "I swear to the good lord 'bove... ya going to be the death of me." is the pumpkin farmers comments about his generator going out. The secret of this comics success is thanks to the writing and art it takes horror cliches and makes them work again. 'Revenge' doesn't give you the evil eye, and wink at you like your in on the joke at the same time. Horror story conventions can still be scary, if you have enough talent to pull it off, these creators do. You also have to set out to make the lighter moments a temporary break in being freaked out wondering whats going to happen next. I already want to know who's going to die so I can prepare myself in advance, that's a horror story success. You know once a character says something that alludes to their demise, they're going to get whacked in some horrible fashion. He sees something he can't believe then slips, falls, and a pumpkin vine presses the on button that leads to him being wood chipped in a awesomely gory full screen shot on screen 4.

So the kids are fair game in this story right?

Screen 5 introduces us to Robbie the 13 year old hero of this story, and horror aficionado. His room is decked out in various skulls/monster imagery, and his mom doesn't want him to be late for school. In screen 6 again we get a nice background shot of Robbie's kitchen which helps to establish the scene. The use of an establishing shot to show this charters surroundings and their not 9 1/2 hands hero tall gives the story more of a sense of reality. Their's not a 'Superman' type character in this story, I could see anybody getting taken down by the pumpkins. Screen 7 includes another establishing shot that shows Robbie's street, and reinforces the fact that this is Autumn. looking at the various carved pumpkins everyone has out on their doorstep in preparation for Halloween makes it look like all the pumpkins are just watching... waiting. It will creep you out, which means this is one horror story that has done it's job. Robbie goes off to school with his friend Corey -who as it turns out has an older brother who is a cop- Corey fills Robbie in on pumpkin farmer Ted, being chipped to death. The various faces Corey makes as he tells his awful tale manage to be both funny, and gruesome. Screen 8 just like every other screen of this comic was very impressive/professional in it's layout The strip ends with some appropriate gallows humor. Daryl (who I figure is Corey's brother), notices a trail of pumpkin seeds leading up to Ted's generator. The sheriff mocks his discovery by stating the obvious (right next to a pumpkin patch), and throwing a bunch of TV detective comparisons his way. It ends with the sheriff saying it was just an accident, and he has a "hankering" for some Sloppy Joes. As the sheriff says this we see whats left of poor Ted being shoveled into a plastic bag. . It's damn sharp writing this comic ended with a punch line. Revenge of the Homicidal Pumpkins didn't get my vote, but if it wins on Zuda I will follow it.

Zuda review Goldilock/ It looks fantastic, it's like a movie!

Goldilock is a September Zuda comic done by Adam Lucas. It got a favorite from me, here is the synopsis: The newly discovered Planet Goldilock seemed to be the answer to Earth’s prayers, a new home and a chance for redemption. With the ominous death of genius inventor and philanthropist, Daniel Haze, looming in the air, a team of scientists has set out on a 2 year mission to explore the mysterious planet. Soon, beauty meets beast, and it's up to the brilliant minds of Pioneer One and the cunning of a lone alien savage to save the future of mankind. What lives on Planet Goldilock? Have we really found a new home? What really happened to Daniel Haze? Find out in, GOLDILOCK!

It could be a beautiful Anime film, shop it around if things don't work out on Zuda

The first thing that gets you about Goldilock is the amazing colors, and back grounds. It's not until you take how amazing they are in, that you start looking for characters and wordage. Somehow, someway, Adam Lucas actually made a 'slow burn' start work on Zuda. Like in other comics this month bringing impressive backgrounds does wonders for drawing readers into the world of the characters, It also makes for a more expansive 'epic' feel, if the story is going in that direction. Screen 1 sets the mood with amazing backgrounds screen 2 provides good characterization with good banter between characters. Alien creature males turn blue to attract mates, the female lead Katie makes a joke about Dane holding his breath. On screen 3 the comic jumps back in time three weeks to the explorers just arriving near planet Goldilock. It is a bit of a roll call screen, with some nice humor about the 'monkey's on Mars'. The art is obviously amazing, but the story/characters are just as well written. Screen 4 finishes introducing the rest of the characters: Alton, Ran, and Mrs. Haze. Mrs. Haze is the widow/heir of Haze Corp which was the company of her Husband Daniel Haze. Daniel Haze being dead, and the actions of Mrs. Haze in relation to that, and his dreams for humanity look to play a major part in the future of this story. What really happened to Daniel Haze, sets up a good mystery early on in this series. All the [possible] dark secrets of a new world tying into all the [possible] dark secrets of the characters, classic Sci-Fi at it's best.

What is the Planet Goldilock equivalent to black widows?

Screen 5 has the group meet up with one of Daniel Haze's friends/Mrs. Haze's enemy Bruce Lennox. Those two characters have a conversation where readers don't know exactly what happened, but we know something happened and it raises up the suspense level. You want to find out just what Mrs. Haze is up to, and what's going to happen once other characters clue on to her. We also see Banks Lennox's floating robot cube buddy/spy. The Ran is established as 'that guy that just knows something ain't right', you need that guy to work as a harbinger/Cassandra to ratchet up the tension. You also want to deliver all the information on this world/story characters, but not have the dialogue come off as a document dump in 8 screens. The dialogue is excellent for all the characters across all 8 screens. It is a slower start in the sense no fight scenes yet, but it actually pulled off suspense with a real cliffhanger ending. The comic ends with Katie discovering signs of intelligent life (steps carved in a rock formation) , and brings the ending back around to the beginning with one of those flying alien creatures turning blue to try to impress Katie. I love it when the beginning of a story ties into a story because it feels more like a serial cliff hanger ending. Too often cliff hanger endings are botched on Zuda probably because most people have never really watched an old serial. Their is a difference between coming to the end of part one in a serial, vs. just hitting stop 15 minutes into a movie. Their's a difference between a 8 screen prologue/preview created for that purpose, vs. just picking the first 8 screens/pages of a longer comic and submitting them. Those 8 screens need to be formatted for Zuda, and Adam Lucas/Goldilock does a fantastic job of that. This comic didn't get my vote, but if it wins I will follow it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Zuda review WheelJack Union/ Marvel Masterworks Iron Man is better than Essential Iron Man, why is that?

WheelJack Union is another September Zuda comic done by Mike Odumand rockstarnoah. Here is the synopsis: A young engineer, Gene Recktor, son of famed scientist Robert Recktor, has always resented living in his father’s shadow. Gene steps forward to head a secret project to develop an “unmanned tank”. Powered by his own delusions of grandeur and arrogance, he creates the WheelJack, a bipedal machine that far surpasses the vision of a mere automated tank. General Treys, an old friend of Gene’s father, agrees to put WheelJack into full production. Unexpectedly, the Wheeljack production comes to a halt, devastating Gene’s ego and growing aspirations. Gene demands that the military begin production again, but is denied by General Treys who now realizes Gene’s selfish motives. In the following weeks Gene becomes detached and embittered by his failure. He angrily pursues recognition and is met with open arms by a mysterious man. The actions Gene takes thereafter may very well open a chapter for him in the history books, but maybe not in the way he had intended.

You need to color your comics

With some comics on the web black and white works, but WheelJack Union wasn't one of those to me. The pages didn't look like a coloring book, but it didn't look finished either. Letters are for the most part easy to read. On screen 1 the impact of the tank being hit/THOOM! sound effect was stunted by the lack of color. It also could have been a more dramatic/bigger moment if it was a full page shot instead of half a page. It was a OK start, but this month (like almost every month) had some stiff competition on Zuda. The WheelJack robot design is cool enough, art is fine, but the most intriguing part of this comic is the Gene Rektor character. I can't tell from these 8 screens if his character is going to be 'redeemed', or if he's going to turn Nazi and have to be taken done by his own creations. The synopsis actually does a very good job in getting readers to want to know what happens next. Their are some good action scenes early on, accompanied by decent text box narration. The number of action scenes only served to underline how much color would have added to the story. The dialogue translation of the non-English speakers wasn't really needed. Wheeljack proceeds to slaughter a number of the enemy, so they bring in a tank to try to take him down. In screen 5 WheelJack side stepped the tank shell, then we see the horrified eyes of the Nazi goon as he/the tank gets blasted away. The WheelJack used a atom cannon with predictably impressive devastation. It is the best screen of the comic, and I liked the symbolism of a unarmed tank facing off against its armed counterpart.

Theirs more than one of them.... Awe hell look out Nazis...

The General didn't want to accept the WheelJack's success, but in the end he had to. Their was good characterization in the art work, which brought out the personalities of both General Treys and Professor Gene Recktor. Screen 7 had some tantalizing insights into Gene Rictor's character. Becoming a superstitious person for some unknown reason, and his whispered comments about his Father's reputation acting like his shadow in the final panel. Screen 8 starts off with a sound effect that goes across the screen, which was a nice touch. A impending Kraut attack leads Gene to want to activate the WheelJacks to save their production facility. His assistant Arnold also mentions they need to save the workers, which Gene agrees with as a after thought. It was a great job of underlining the cold heartless bastard villain qualities Gene could/will have. The last panel shows the various WheelJack's waiting to be activated in a homage panel to I, Robot. Color would have got this comic a favorite from me. The only thing that really didn't ring true is General Treys canceling the program because of Gene's less than altruistic motives with WheelJack. Even if you say he was a close friend of his father, no way do I buy the government, any government, would pass up a bright, shiny new secret weapon on moral grounds. That seemed like a plot point to bring in the 'mysterious man', but it's still a good story. This month was just too much competition.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Zuda review Tessyleia 2.0/ Cyberpunk comes to Zuda

Tessyleia 2.0 is another Spetember Zuda competitor done by Marc Borstel and hayestronaut which got a favorite from me. Here is the synopsis: NeoYork, in the not-so-distant future. Tess is a young flight attendant, who retains the services of Second Chance-CyberOrganics. The company possesses the technology to store memories and behavior patterns of their living clients. More importantly, they provide customers with the capability to download these memories and behavior patterns into cyborg-hosts bodies upon the death of their original organic ones. After several months and a confirmation of death, The Company begins to assemble the cyborg Tess online.
Deeply routed in the Techno-thriller and CyberPunk genres, the story starts several hours after Tess’s initial death and subsequent synthetic renaissance. But nothing is as it seems. And soon, the cyborg will recall dark events from her past that her organic-self was desperate to forget. In this highly advanced society, information is the most valuable possession. Just as Tess is left to follow the trail that will lead her to her enemies, her predators are determined to destroy the priceless information that is contained in her cyber-brain. What’s the connection between Tess and ConCorp, the biggest warfare metacorporation on the planet? And how many times will she be forced to run from her former life?

Screen one reminded me of some old Cerebus page layouts

It was a whole lot of wordage, it did really remind me of some Cerebus layout's during High Society, but it did set the mood for the coming screens. I was impressed as you can be to see something so cyberpunky on Zuda. Between the fantastic art, and a whole lot of great dialogue was surprisingly didn't end up as sensory overload for the reader. Letters are easy to read, and the colors fit the story well. The creators really did a great job in the characterization of Dr. Mordecai in the dialogue and used binary code to spice up the layout of screen 2. The first four panels on screen 3 is what earned it a favorite from me. The thing that really stands out about this comic is how smart it is in answering the -What ifs'- that set up the story. What if you were a android implanted with human memories who was just activated? What would your process of adjustment to your new 'life' be? How does a comics creator get that across in 8 screens? In the case of Tessyleia 2.0 this is accomplished with a fork, and a Omniweb port connection. Dr. Mordecai holds up a fork to see if Tess recognizes it, which she does. He then tells her she will never need it again, and holds up her connector to the Omniweb which is how she will feed. He also sets up a no doubt later sub-plot in telling her to be careful where she feeds, because their are 'bugs' on the Omniweb that can harm her permanently. The art showing Tess focused on the fork and port connector, with the doctor a dull gray behind his hands was a well done P.O.V. shot. It also has to be said Lettering isn't just about a legible font, it's also about balloon placement. If the balloon placement in this comic wasn't handled as well as it is, the comic would suffer servery for it. The doctor also introduces her to Robbie a classic side-kick type, and also her 'phyisotherapist' to train her how to use her new android body. Which is another set-up to Tess becoming more of a bad-ass as the comic goes along, and she learns what her new body is capable of. The obvious parallels to real life physical therapy for people today (were people have to learn how to walk, talk, and eat again) are obvious. The involving execution of this part of the story was far more impressive to me than the big fight/explosion later on in the comic. The reason being a big action scene was not only expected, but damn near required everything considered. Tess's awakening was a unexpected surprise the way it was so well done. This added that 'the same, but different' hook genre stories need to really grab readers. How often do stories like this on Zuda with quiet moments come off as boring, instead of meaningful?

Oh my God, they killed Tessyleia!!!

On screen 4 Tessyleia droid 1.0 (remember that 1.0 it's going to come up later) gets her robotic exterior fitted with fake human skin. Their is a bit of a Rob Liefield style tits tribute, before Glory had the breast reduction, but if she wasn't a looker it would be less interesting. The doctor tries to get her to visualize her memories, which of course ends in her realizing she is part of a secret project "codename Penthesilea". The screens are packed with art, and dialogue, so readers don't get short changed, somehow this is pulled off without the screens being overcrowded. The creators showing this kind of talent, the only thing keeping them from being higher in the ranks is not winning enough friends, and influencing enough people. Screen 5 is where the truth/McGuffin comes flooding back into Tess 1.0's mind depicted as a stream of 1's and 0's, and a sudden urge to heave her chest. She also realizes that the bad guys are after her, and probably are already their since she paid in a traceable credit card transfer. That seems like out of character plot point stupidity -but maybe she was under the gun at the time... The main bad guy happens to be a look alike major planing to blow all of them to hell. Screen 6 we have the explosion which leaves the doctor dead, and Tess 1.0 minus a arm and some fake skin. Great art and sound effects on this screen, which ends with Tess 1.0 looking up at her doppelganger flying in the air saying "hi". "Too slow isn't" was the only real confusing dialogue in the whole comic which happens on screen 7. The look alike and Tess 1.0 do the villain monologue thing, and the new arrival reveals she is a clone then executes android Tess. Clones and androids in one cyberpunk story has the same payoff as double mint gum. Tess 1.0 dies (for her second death), and the Tess clone is told she was instructed to bring the android back in working order, clone Tess says "Yeah, well... sue me." The comic ends with the clone-major finding out Robbie escaped with Tess's memories setting up Tessyleia 2.0. It was cyberpunk done right fulfilling all reader expectations, and doing something extra in fantastic characterization which made it stand out. This comic should be higher up in the rankings, I hope to see more from the creators.