Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Zuda review Impure Blood/ Into the Arena... Crush'em! crush'em!

Impure Blood is another October Zuda contestant done by  Nathan Lueth and Nadja Baer. Here is the synopsis: Dubbed the "Abomination" because of his appearance, Roan carries within his human body the Blood of a mystical and nearly extinct race known as the Ancients. Blood, which manifests itself in exceptional strength and physical mutation. Blood that earned him imprisonment in the Veresta Stadium, where pure-blooded humans force him to fight in gladiatorial games.
Nearly broken, Roan jumps at the prospect of freedom when a mysterious girl named Dara appears at his cell. She offers him a chance at a new life in exchange for his help, but refuses to release him until he binds himself to her mission with a sacred oath known only by the Ancients.
Tied to Dara by words as old as his Blood, Roan has no choice but to join her and her cohorts on a quest to track down an Ancient artifact. Dara is desperate to find it, believing that it will unlock the mystery of her own past. Elnor, her bodyguard, is sworn to protect Dara by a contract, but her true desire is to keep herself safe, even at Dara's expense. Caspian is a member of a secret society sworn to conceal the Ancient artifact and keep it out of the hands of those with Ancient Blood.
Roan cares only for his freedom until a new player joins the game and threatens the very existence of humanity. Now Roan must make a choice: Overcome  a lifetime of humiliation, repression and rage, and protect  the people that imprisoned him, or walk away and allow humanity to suffer the consequences of its mission to suppress the Ancient Blood.  

This comic fulfills the 'spilled blood' action quotient

It says it's an action/adventure, and you get an action/adventure from panel 1, screen 1. The first panel is of a guy getting his head busted in, with a suitable amount of blood flying. The font is legible. The colors are well done. It's a fast moving Zuda story that ends with a good cliff hanger. The is a lot of action the artist does a mostly fine job of  rendering on the screens. There are no stiff looking combat scenes, all the characters look fluid.  Screen one we see Roan the Abomination fighting it out in a gladiatorial contest, with a streak of humor running throughout the comic. I give the creators credit screen one lays the ground work for the tone of the whole comic.On screen one you can read the arena announcements about the abomination: "The Veresta Keepers would like to remind you that all bets are final. Defaulters will be put in the ring to face the abomination next week." The humor lessons the impact of all the blood flying, and makes this more of a adventure story. Screen 2 has a nice layout in the actions scenes as Roan dispatches his opponents.  Screen 3 pulls away from the conflict to start establishing the plot. A mysterious benefactor sends his two associate hench-women to go break out Roan, complete with a strange message in a watch: "we know where it is." The suspense isn't enough to rip your spine out, but the story is moving along across the 8 screens. Roan goes up against  someone with a robot knife-arm, for the sole purpose of ripping it off and stabbing him with it in a cool action scene. The Manga style action panels do work to make the fight scenes have more impact, with a nice contrast to the standard layout for non-action scenes. The last panel on screen 4 is a nice piece of work showing Roan holding his wounded arm, face hidden in shadow.

Gladiators, Murders, Thieves, Rapists, and ...Lawyers? 

On screen 5 in the background there is a plaque that throws in the lawyer joke, along with one of the hench-women ( Elnor) distracting two guards with her allures, while the other (Dara) goes to break out Roan. Roan gets some very good dialogue as at firsts he's amused by this young woman, but then gets drawn into making a deal for his freedom. This scene also brings up one of the problems I have with this comic, Roan just doesn't look scary enough. If he's bashing in skulls, or trying to look stoic in solitude he comes off impressive as a Shriek plushie. Maybe going the Judge Dredd route and giving him a mask so readers can't see his face would have been a better option. It doesn't seem the mix of humor to action is quite right. On screen 6 Dara asks Roan to swear a oath: "To the beginning of the blood..?", and Roan questions how she knows about the sacred oath of his people. Screen 6 does have some impressive panel layouts in how this scene plays out.  There is a shot of Roan's hands holding the bars as he thinks over the offer, then his face in shadow again as he swears: "To the begining of the blood." She reveals her name, he tells her her name, and they start to make their escape. The whisper word balloons in this comic are done in pale gray. The backgrounds showing in arean are very well done, and screen 7 had a nice 'puzzle piece' layout. Screen 8 Roan and Dara make it out to find Elnor has drugged both guards. Dara and Roan reveal the only way he can have his freedom  is to get past the gates by sunrise. The last panel reveals the trio making a run for it, it was a good cliff hanger. It's a good comic, but I couldn't tell if it was a action/comedy, or a action comic with some light moments. I more bad-ass scary Roan would have also had more of a impact.  

Monday, October 19, 2009

Zuda review A Polar Nightmare/ Now this is a really bad Santa

A Polar Nightmare is another October Zuda comic done by Zuda vet Amancay Nicolas Nahuelpan Bustamante. It got a favorite from me here is the synopsis: Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Willy, who, every year would write to Santa and ask him for that much-desired present he wanted for Christmas. But something went wrong last December 25th. He sent his letter as usual, but he didn't get his present. So in desperation, he decided to go and ask Santa in person why he didn't deliver his gift.
Jimmy and his best friend Willy, set out on a journey of their lives, venturing into the heart of the North Pole to visit Santa Claus! Things don’t go as planned, and after visiting Santa's house; they wished they never left their home. Now, surrounded by trouble, they will have to find out how to survive the Nightmares of the North Pole! 

Santa's done horror before, but this time he has sex-pot elves for back up!

Amancy is drawing it, so of course it looks amazing. The letters are legible, and the colors add a very nice element to the story. It has a slower start than previous comics Amancy has done, but I really enjoyed the actually unexpected cliff hanger pay off at the end. If your going to draw a landscape, you need to be able to draw a landscape. Amancy does an excellent job of showing off the north pole, snow covered mountains, and tracking through a winter wasteland. The text boxes are well written, even though they rhyme. Screen 2 sees our introductions to Willy and Jimmy as the classic optimistic/pessimistic duo. The yellow text boxes rhyme the whole way through, and it does convoy the sick childrens book aspect of it. By screen 4 they're knocking on the front door, with some impressive art done on Santa's hideaway. The color scheme really brings across the desolation beyond Santa's shack, all you got is snow. I wouldn't have minded seeing more panels per screen, but I understand building up the anticipation.It could be a quick read if you don't take the time to appreciate the art. The dialogue for the two little kids is spot on. throughout the comic  the dialogue doesn't cramp the art, and does a good job of getting the story across.

Uh... What happened to St. Nick?

Screen 5 we get elf babes that could be playmates who also speak in rhyme. This is the first real hint that things are not what they seem, or you would expect. It's also one of my favorite screens with a nice Elf P.O.V. looking down at Willy. His wide-eyed Santa hopes is proof he's too young to appreciate what he sees before him. Screen 6 is another one of my favorite screens where we get a full screen shot of a evil looking Santa. He is hooked into a number of machines, in some interesting places, and explains: "Welcome to my humble house you spoiled brats. Sorry for my appearance... but my kidneys are driving me nuts." It could be one, or both of the elf babes gave him something Ajax couldn't take off, and Penicillin can't cure. Bad Santa does give the standard Ho Ho Ho, but it has more of a Silent Night/Deadly Night feel considering the circumstances. Screen 7 is when things start getting even creepier, which is cool as hell.  The art is intense as the panels go from two scared kids to a close up of evil Santa with what looks like cockroaches coming out of his eyes. The lettering job was also very well done with a gray balloon signifying whispers. The lettering job on bad Santa's closing rhyme was also very good.  It ends with a black screen extreme close up on Bad Santa's eyes with the bugs coming out of it. He also delivers a threat in rhyme that's some scary shit for Santa to say. The ending makes you concerned for what's going to happen to those kids, and wondering what the hell went wrong at the North Pole. This comic is a original twist on turning Christmas into a nightmare.