Friday, December 18, 2009

Zuda review SubSuelo/ Everything was going along okay, untill the Lazer Tag rejects showed up

SubSuelo is another December Zuda comic done by Alfredo Rodríguez and Gabriel Rodríguez. Here is the synopsis: Román’s parents died when he was just a kid. He swore to himself, from that day, to protect Aura, his shy little sister. Today, as never before, his promise will be put on trial. Román stumbles into an adventure that will take him through parallel dimensions, fighting dangers never imagined before.

Haven't all the dangers of parallel dimensions been imagined before by now?

It begins awesome enough, with a nice screen of a little girl and her big brother. The conversation where a young girl repeats all her favorite parts of a movie she has just seen to her much older brother reminds me of some real life conversations with my little sister. Fantastic art and colors throughout this comic, easy to read lettering, and the dialogue was well done. You still need a good hook/reason to vote  to end on and grab readers which doesn't happen with this comic. There are definitive amounts of cuteness on this page, you do care what happens to Aura from screen 1, and you get some character development for Román as well. With such a happy start to a Zuda story your just waiting for bad things to happen. I wish that level of engaging suspense with this story could of held up for the entire submission. The suspense held through screen 2 with the text box thought balloons (which weren't over done thankfully) revealing how Román is Aura's guardian and protector. There is too much white all around the panels with the artist not taking full advantage of the layout possibilities, but the art inside the panel managed to convey a lot of emotion in the characters faces. In screens 3 and 4 Aura is worried and afraid talking about how someone is coming after her. The screen ends with Aura pointing at this new menace which is a excellent way to get to get folks to click to the next screen. On screen 3 we see the villain (at least I guess he's the villain) It's a good entrance coming out of the shadows to a extreme close-up with a nicely designed character. The problem of too much white space 'look at all that bare screen there' is again very evident on this page. Screen 4 gives a nice action shot of the villain in panel  3, and Aura wanting Román to get away in panel 1. The last panel for some reason shadows out Román face except for his clinched teeth and angry eyes. I guess it was supposed to show his anger, but instead took away a regular guy's real humanity -channeling Todd McFarlane is not the way to go here- which the comic established back on screen 1. It was a distraction that did the artists who draw emotional on  faces so well no favors.

If it would have been more like X-Files meets Without A Trace, and less The Golden Child sans humor with super villains -it would have got a favorite from me

Screen 5 is another screen with too much white space around the screen. The first again has the characters faces covered in shadow. The panel layout was actually good I liked the insert shot of Román face in reaction to the bad guys powers. In the first panel the bad guy creates a portal to get past  Román then, appears on the other side grabbing Aura. The bad guy in question looks like the Grifter with War Blade's claws so he's cool all around. He can also shoot force beams which he does at Román in screen 6. It's a good action scene that actually shows  Román's face and how worried he is for his sister. The various energy effects and someone bouncing ass over tea kettle were also well done. Screen 7 is where it all goes wrong for me. This story could have been a fairly serious, and kind of rare for Zuda, missing child tale with a regular guy going up against a super powered opposition. Instead in screen 7 we got some kind of spider creature and a babe who both look fresh out of the Lazer tag Academy porting in at the last second. I guess the purpose of screen 7 was to introduce a love interest for Román, and more explosive fight scenes. The potential for a unique story got tossed so the multi-dimensional police could show up. The draw of the art and story isn't big fight scenes with blasters going off in all directions isn't the big selling point in this story. A regular guy who doesn't get inducted into the cause and issued a blaster facing forces overpowering him could have been. There isn't any emotional hook when your working the parallel worlds angle, it becomes just another Sci-fi shoot'em up.It ends with Román hating his failure to protect his sister, and the Lazer Tag 'pardner's' vowing to chase the bad guy down. A smaller scope story focusing on  Román's attempts to track down his sister could have been a great thriller. The prospect of "an adventure that will take him through parallel dimensions", isn't something I want to follow along for. A bigger scale doesn't always make it better, and interesting heroes don't always have to save the world.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Zuda review Jason and the Argonauts Redux/ Zuda needs more creator originality like this

Jason and the Argonauts is a Zuda December competitor done by Barry Keegan which got a favorite from me. Here is the synopsis: This is the story of Jason and the Argonauts, one of the most famous Greek legends retold with a twist. In this version of the classic story we must ask ourselves why is everything robotic, why does everyone think this is natural, and what effects will this have on Greece considering nobody can fully die. Can Jason truly succeed in his quest of finding the Golden Fleece, an item with the power to return the lands of Greece from poverty to prosperity? With Greece's mightiest heroes at his side, Jason must face all manner of challenges to be victorious. Things are so much more different this time around, it is ancient Greece but not as we knew it!

Occasionally I can be blunt instead of pedantic ;), the fact this comic is in 9th place (currently) should be a damn crime

The comic opens with some nice establishing shots, and a voice calling out for Jason. The colors fit the story,  and the art is excellent throughout. The only bad thing is the lettering, which isn't even really that bad. It reminds me of a book called Eugenus -which was another excellent comic except for the lettering.  The art isn't overly detailed, or too cartoony it strikes a nice balance that excels in telling the story. The screen layouts are easy to follow and it establishes a nice little mystery by screen 2. Jason and his 'father' are stalking some kind of animal, being this is a mythology story it could be anything which adds to the suspense. I see this as the creator taking advantage of some genre story short hand. It could be a fantastic creature, it could be a Bambi look-a-like. Readers just don't know, but the possibilities are endless, this encouraged me to 'keep clicking' to find out just what kind of critter it is. I also liked the dialogue being well written and to the point. . The 'everybody is a robot' reveal at the end didn't thrill some readers. To me bringing in something like that was unexpected, and really made me wonder how this happened/ what it means for the future of the story? It was a great surprise to end on and a real twist to the cliffhanger. The surprise of Jason's 'Dad' being a centaur was tucked away in screen 3, and sealed the deal of my appreciation of this comic. It was a nice little reveal of the centaur telling him to be careful as Jason raced off to confront whatever creature he was after, the creator also had to good sense not to put too much of a finger on it in the panel layout. Neat little moments add up, especially in a month where most of the rest of the competition isn't thrilling me at all. In screen 4 you see the beast he was stalking is a Bambi-look-a-like. The exclamation point over the deer's head I could have done without. Panel 3 showed him leaping down with his sword in a way that didn't jive with how the blow must have fell in panel 4. I did like the spray of blood flying up over Jason, just enough without being too much. Jason's face covered in shadows as he killed the deer was a fitting touch. In action panels having the background color go read was also a good story-telling choice. If you weren't paying attention as you read the comic you might have missed the leopard lurking in that last panel on top of a tree. To me one of the highlight's of  Barry Keegan's story telling is he's not heavy handed in making his way through his story. Readers don't get nurse feeding close-up's or extreme close-up's to foreshadow this is what happens next you just read along and enjoy.

 Clockwork leopard goes Clank-Clang, but why did Bambi's twin bleed?

In screen 5 the leopard pounces on Jason in a well laid out screen. I enjoyed this action sequence, which again featured a screen 3 with Jason holding his sword that didn't quite match up with the blow that felled the leopard in screen 4. Screen 5 is also the first inclination (most folks don't read the synopsis I know) that something is off by the spray of robot parts instead of blood. Again the action scene was accompanied by the background color going red. Screen 6 shows robo-leopard eviscerated carcass, as his Dad rushes to his aid. Jason also says he only had a flesh wound, but readers can see that Jason too is a robot with his ironic comment "it's only a flesh wound". The plot thickens nicely with this surprise as you wonder what is going on with the automatons, and seemingly normal deer??? Screen 7 has some panel design that helps the telling of the story. I particularly liked the way you could devide the first panel here in two along the lines of Jason's sword, and the robo-entrails of leopard corpse. Consistency that's good consistency isn't the hobgoblin of little minds, it's a well used thematic device. I appreciated the fact shadows darkened the dad's face in panel 3, as a balance to Jason's happiness in panel 2. From the words of the dad reader's also found out that leopard had been wrecking havoc for a while. Jason being no fool realizes that something is wrong in the last panel on this screen, a nice little segue to the conclusion. In the last screen we have the start of the traditional 'recounting of the hero's past' before he seats out on his journey. The dad point's down at a town called Iolcus and tells Jason that is where he was 'born'. This comic ends with Jason asking if this is the day he is told about his family and the dad saying yes it. Very well down father/son dialogue throughout this comic. The ending also holds the promise that readers would get to see how Keegan draws a city environment should the title win. The art and story are fantastic, I was very impressed with the good use this creator put to the 8 screens he had to work with. Not much hope for a rise in the ranks at Zuda, but if Keegan chooses not to continue this comic I hope to see his work again in a future contest.