Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year Wild Webcomic Review

Hey everyone:


Okay, that sounded odder than it probably should.  Anyway, new year, new batch of five webcomics ready for review.  I read them over Christmas and after letting them stew for a week, let's see what I really thought of them.

191.  Hark, a Vagrant - This is a silly comic.  Yet it's a silly comic that involves history which makes it a very interesting silly comic.  The art style looks like it could have come from an old copy of MAD magazine, but the humor is decidedly modern.  It's fun, and I would recommend reading the news blurbs under the strips as they contain some further details about the historical events in the comics.  Though that's not all it covers, it also has that "slice of life" segments that are just as entertaining as the regular history strips.  Enjoyable and will likely stay on the read list for a while.

192.  Emergency Exit - This is the comic that was featured in a pair of crossovers with Parallel Dementia.  At it's core it's a basic college student adventure comic in the vein of College Roomies from Hell, Too Late to Run and Just Another Escape.  This doesn't make it a bad comic at all, in fact it's fun and entertaining, though I have a couple issues with it.  The first is that the various characters in the cast don't get much individual screen time.  A lot of that is the result of the rather large cast.  Where most comics of this ilk provide one "set" of characters (typically the heroes), this one provides at least two sets (one being the self proclaimed villains) and giving each character their moment in the sun is rough and some of the characters seem to fade into the background for quite a while.  The second issue is the artwork.  No, it's not bad, far from it, the problem is that in reading through the achieves, the artwork changes rather abruptly not once, but twice.  Most comic artists evolve their style, here it radically changes and then you have to get re-used to the art and re-identify the characters.  Doing it once is annoying, twice is irritating.  On a personal note, I kind of prefer the second phase of the art, but I understand why the current version is here, it's more flexible.  Anyway, it's a good, fun comic and I think I'll be reading it for a while.

193.  Alpha Luna AND  194.  Abandon:  First Vampire - What's this?  Two reviews at once?  Why yes, for a couple of reasons.  First, they provide an excellent contrasts in styles and writing that it feels natural to review them together.  And secondly, one is about werewolves and the other about vampires, and for some reason there's a trend that they should fight.  So who wins?  Well, let's take a look.  There's a lot to cover here, so this might be the longest review I've ever done.  My apologies ahead of time.

First art.  Both are in black and white, but Alpha Luna is far more detailed, especially in characters.  Abandon is rather plain, giving characters and locations few details with which to differentiate them from each other.  It's not nearly as bad as some comics, you can identify characters, but there's nothing that stands out about any of them.  On top of that, positioning, framing and other elements of the art are all in Alpha's favor as Abandon feels less experienced in this field.

When it comes to getting into the story and getting going, Abandon is much faster and crisper.  The story gets active very early on and mysteries are presented that can get the reader excited.  Meanwhile Alpha Luna bogs everything down with an unnecessary flashback, and some overloaded and lengthy dialog.

But after that start, things in Abandon bog down.  The story covers a great deal of time and space but the comic actually has FEWER strips than Alpha Luna, so this grand, epic nature is compressed down and it ends up feeling as if there are several missing pages that might contain some information that isn't provided in any direct way.  Alpha Luna is much more compact and "tight" in this respect, limiting the scope of the story but really exploring this scope.

Of course, Alpha Luna also dumps information on you, not at the start but later on.  There's a lot of detailed text and while I can understand the timing, it does take a moment to really read through it.  Abandon has no such problem, mostly because it doesn't tell you anything.  There are moments, yes, but for the most part the reader is left in the almost complete dark about much of what's going on, even with vague promises of explaining things that are interesting.

So who wins?  The lycans win this round.  Yes, Alpha Luna has it's problems, but its tighter story and overall look will allow it to fix those problems faster than Abandon will be able to.  The biggest obstacle right now is that Alpha Luna hasn't updated since October.  Yeah.  Not that either comic is really worth the eff0rt to continue following.  Perhaps when they're older I'll give them another look.  And damn, that was long.

195.  The Non-Adventures of Wonderella - The alt-text for one of the strips says:  "For every creator who makes great strides towards webcomics as a viable literary and artistic medium, there is another one drawing pee monsters."  That sums up Wonderella pretty well.  It's a superhero comic about a super heroine who would rather watch Friends reruns than save the world from horrible space monsters, and often does.  It might look dense, but the jokes are obvious and funny as all hell.  It's very enjoyable and I wager it'll be on my read list for some time to come.

Well, that's it for this addition to the Wild Webcomic Review.  Maybe, possibly, I'll get to 200 sometime this year.  That would be nice, wouldn't it?  Until next time kiddies.

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