Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Review - Bud Colbert: Time-Travelin' Janitor - Issue # 1

You owe it to yourself to join Bud Colbert, as he explodes onto the pages of this humor-laced comic book, in a no-holds-barred adventure through time.

Did I mention that he's a janitor?

But, he's much more than just that. What we have here, people, is a home-grown slice of Americana, circa 1961.

He's rockin' while he's moppin', but sometimes in life, shit just has a way of happening.

Call it fate. Call it destiny. Call it the will of God.

But, whatever you call it, don't call it boring, for that's something that Bud definitely ain't!

So, grab yourself a brew (Bud recommends Studweiser), and guzzle down some laughs and smiles, as Bud Colbert's antics transport you along the daring road of adventure.

Published by Checkmate Comics, this righteous romp is a barrel of fun. Well, for you and I, anyway. For Bud? Well, he's got his work cut out for him, and he has to save the day.

If only he knew how.

Bud Colbert is a cross between James Dean, John Wayne, and Rodney Dangerfield, with a little bit of Elvis Presley and Indiana Jones tossed in for good measure. That's how I see him, anyway.

Unlike with some comic books, there's no doubt about who the hero is, in this one. He's bold. He's brash. He's all up in your face, but he still takes time out to comb his hair, have a smoke, and swill some beer.

Circumstances have a way of overtaking Bud and his best laid plans, and soon enough, he's in way over his head. Yet, it falls to him to save civilization. As if he ain't got better things to do!

I just love this comic book!

Accidents on the job suck, but what sucks even more is getting Shanghaied by people from the future - people who are focused on something that Bud can't quite relate to, to put it mildly.

Chaos ensues!

Whump! Thrak! Bud Colbert is on the attack, and he seeks to escape, to get back to who he was and to what he was doing, before things got all strange on him.

This is one of those comic books where I want to show it all to you, but at the same time, I don't want to show you anything, at all, lest I inadvertently spoil the fun of the storyline as it lays itself bare before you in grand style.

Through it all, from one mess to a bigger mess, Bud remains undaunted. He is ever himself, it seems.

God help us all!

A hero for the common man, Bud Colbert is larger than life. When his situation isn't scaring the Bejesus out of him, his priorities remain unfazed.

It's probably best, if you don't piss him off, though. For, if you do, then hold on, buddy! The shit will definitely hit the fan, American style.

Bud Colbert, the time-travelin' janitor, isn't for everybody. But, it should be. Yeah, I'm talking to you!

Honest to God, though, I'm not sure what I like the most about this comic book.

Is it the art? The coloring? The plot of the story?

Or could it be, just could it be, the dialogue?

This thing, this wonderful little hobgoblin of humorous delight, grows on you right from the get-go. But, once Bud awakens to the surprise of his life, the powder keg of this little adventure ignites.

Krakt! Pop! Aaaagh!

It just crackles with swagger. All that Bud really wants is to just get back to how things were, before - before the un-American types spoiled his day.

But, for the reader, it's a Paul Bunyon-sized tall tale that you just don't want to see come to an end. It's a B-grade 50's movie without the movie, one that plays itself out in print.

It harkens back to another era, to a simpler time. Nothing's too complicated for Bud Colbert. He doesn't sweat the small things - like details! 

Or physics, for that matter.

The true nitty-gritty of this adventure, the plate upon which much gets heaped, is Bud's personality, as it makes its way to the center stage of the reader's attention.

As Bud rises to the occasion, laughs ensue.

For me, at least, Bud Colbert: Time-Travelin' Janitor is an instant classic. If you don't end up liking it, then Bud won't care - and neither will I.

Because, you see, there are more important things afoot in this universe that we share. And, if anybody was ever meant to be right smack dab in the middle of it all, when the whole damned universe goes to Hell, then that person, my fair comic-book-reading friend, is none other than the one, the only, the ever-irrepressible Bud Colbert.

In this trek across the space-time continuum, like me, you may well see a little bit of Clint Eastwood and Marlon Brando in Bud Colbert. But, hey, that's OK. It's a cinematic tour de force, minus the cinema, and Bud Colbert is man enough for you to see little bits and pieces of a lot of different macho personalities manifest themselves in him.

Pop a top, good buddy!

Pull yourself up a chair, and do yourself a favor, and go ahead and order this damned thing. No, you probably don't really deserve it, but what the Hell? You only live once - unless you're traveling through time with Bud Colbert, of course!

Of course.

What else would you expect?

Fhoom! Clunk!

Did I mention that it goes great with beer?

Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. There's only one sure fire way to find out, and that's to check it out for yourself.

If you're easily offended, then you might want to seek sanctuary in some other comic book. Not that Bud Colbert aims to offend, and not that he should offend, but people being people, you just plain never know.

Know what I mean?


My least favorite part of this comic book was the white lettering on the pages where Bud is rock'n it, while at work.

But, that's a fairly small nit to pick with the best dang hero to happen along in quite some time. Seems to me that the least that I can do is to cut Bud Colbert a little slack. After all, it's not like he wasn't clocked in, when the world went to Hell in a handbasket all around him.


To be certain, this comic book isn't perfect - nor does it make any pretense to be.

There were a few instances where the lettering for the time machine's voice were a tad hard for me to read, without zooming in closer.

Did I mention that I went the digital route?

Like you, I was a bit wary about parting ways with $10.99 for the print version of this comic book.


What would Bud do?

Me? I opted for the $2.99 way out - and boy, am I ever glad that I did! If I hadn't, then I would still be waiting on the thing to arrive, and it's taken a whole lifetime for this comic book to find its way to me, already. I consider myself pretty darned lucky to have snagged it, when I did.

But, if you splurge for the hard copy, then you'll have something uber manly that you can decorate your coffee table with - Forever!

Anyway, I am going to take a cue from Bud Colbert, and wind this rambling excuse for a review up.

Do the right thing. Do the patriotic thing. Do yourself a favor.

Buy Bud Colbert: Time-Travelin' Janitor, today!

God bless America! God bless Bud Colbert!

Writers: Jim Fader & Troy Lowe
Artist: Pat Carbajal
Colorist: Javi Laparra
Editor: Roger McKenzie

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Review - Theodicy: Book One

One of the things that I do, when I obtain a new comic book, whether for review purposes or not, is to just flip through it, catching only fleeting glimpses of the art and coloring that lies in store for me.

I do it for my own reasons. I do it for my own purposes. I find it to be continually useful, as it instructs me in a first-hand and forceful manner to abide by the dictum, "Never judge a book by its cover."

Theodicy: Book One is a perfect example of this axiom in play. Just flipping through the pages, without bothering to absorb either the story that it tells or the talent that it encapsulates, is to miss this little gem of a comic book.

I was actually asked to review this comic book a couple of months ago, and circumstances and health conspired to effectuate me losing track of it. I wasn't even looking for it, when I happened back upon the digital copy that writer Chad Handley had sent to me back on October 1st, 2014.

I won't call it a miracle, that it made its way back to my attention, but I am thankful that it did, nonetheless. 

Note the contortion of anatomy in transition from neck to face.

At a glance, this is not a comic book that I would gravitate to. The coloring and the art of the interior pages relegate this work into the realm of standard fare independent comic bookdom. In other words, there's plenty wrong with them.

Make no mistake, the art and the coloring of Theodicy: Book One is a long, long way from the very worst that independently published comic books have to offer. Yet, neither rise to the occasion of showcasing this little diamond in the rough.

Though I read this comic book in PDF format, which is a digital format, if this comic book were in traditional paper form, and if it was sitting on the shelf of my local comic book shop, its front cover would catch my eye.

The front cover features an artistic depiction of a young boy, a quadruple amputee, wearing a Jesus Heart Me (Jesus Loves Me) tee-shirt. The artwork of the front cover is actually the best drawn and best colored art to be found in the entire issue. None of the interior pages are as fortunate.

That said, the front cover's art and coloring neither offend me nor attract me to sufficient degree that I feel compelled to open the book, to see what's inside. In that sense, I would adjudge the front cover art to be a failure, for isn't that the whole or overriding purpose of any comic book's front cover? If it doesn't grasp me, if it doesn't command my attention, if it doesn't interest me with artistic temptation, itself, then aren't I - and others like me - likely to simply pass it by?

All the more to pity, then, for this is comic book ground that should not be allowed to lie fallow.

Theodicy's theme is a religious one, and it makes sparing - but effective - use of resort to the quoting of scripture from the Bible to ground itself and to serve as a foundation for suspension of disbelief, that readers might allow themselves to get swept up into the story, itself.

Once I turn past the credits page, and land squarely on the first page of the story, itself, I am met by coloring that so visually dominates the eye-scape that I immediately want to just close the book.

Amateur. Amateur. It just screams amateur, at me, in a visual manner. I can already tell that I am not going to like this comic book. Oh, God, do I really have to review this?

Fast forward to the end of Book One, and somehow or other. by hook or by crook, Theodicy has managed to snag me. It leaves me on a high note, wanting more.

For all of its many shortcomings, I end up liking the damned thing. And that, to me, is the mark of a fundamentally sound comic book. The art and the coloring are typically the visual equivalent of smoke and mirrors of comic books. They are often pretty and attractive or eye-popping.

But, they never are a full and proper substitute for competent story-telling and adequate lettering.

Like many independent comic books, Theodicy: Book One has its share of typos. That accounted for and aside, the lettering present here in this issue is more than up to the task at hand. Bad lettering can kill an otherwise great comic book, but as this issue more than amply demonstrates, competent lettering can salvage even second tier art and coloring to deliver unto the end reader a positive reading experience.

Theodicy: Book One features a couple of pages about the issue's creative team. One of these pages lists writer Chris Handley as possessing a Master's Degree in screenwriting from Hollins University.

Well, I know next to nothing about screenwriting, but what I do know is this - the writing for Theodicy: Book One is this issue's true path to salvation.

Though this comic book deals with religious and theological fare, it tackles the subject matter with equal portions of seriousness and humanity's proclivity for error. It yields a very human approach to certain issues, and it brings the issue of doubt in God to the forefront - doubt forged in the furnace of things that happen in the real world, every single day.

The confrontation in the book between a character named Paul and a statue of Jesus Christ sets the stage for an atheist's baptism, of sorts, but while Paul is the one left soaked from the water, I was the one who felt like a fish hooked and yanked from the water.

If one were to simply flip through the book and happen upon this scene, the end effect isn't nearly as effective as if one allows the story to lead them to where it is going, panel by panel.

Speaking of panels, Theodicy: Book One is imaginatively stale, insofar as imaginative use of panels goes, which is not the exact, same thing as effective use of panels.

This issue derives far greater positive effect from its use of speech bubbles, than it derives from its exploitation of panels, visually speaking.

While I am not a fan of the coloring, overall, I will concede that I did like the coloring of the stained glass imagery that appears within the pages of this comic book. They do a great job of setting the mood of certain panels, and they visually deliver, in sharp contrast to a lot of the coloring that dominates the pages of this comic book.

The art on the pages could have benefited considerably, if the artist had invested more time in their rendering of both human anatomy and details. A huge amount of potential visual interest simply never materialized for me, with the end effect being more of a visual dumbing down of the end product.

With regard to the special effects lettering, it is a gospel of mediocrity writ large. There is some sprinkled throughout, but it seems to have been little more than an afterthought. The end result is that it proves to be a meager offering incapable of paying visual penance to the underlying vessel that is the story.

As with every comic book ever produced, it is what it is, for better or for worse. All things considered, though, Theodicy: Book One is a comic book that I can and do recommend to others. The search for a good comic book is often times as elusive as the search for God, or so it seems to me. There are a lot of things about this comic book that I don't like. Nonetheless, when taken and considered and digested as a whole, Theodicy: Book One is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Writer: Chad Handley
Penciler: Fernando Brazuna
Inker: Ryan Boltz
Colorist: Minan Ghibliest
Letterer: Kel Nuttall

Review - Interceptor # 1

Recently billed as the most successful Kickstarter that they've had at Unstoppable Comics, issue # 1 of Interceptor is the latest reading fare to make its way to me, from the realm of comicdom. Hither, now, comes my review of it!

Regardless of Interceptor # 1's billing as Unstoppable Comics most successful Kickstarter to date, make no mistake - it is not Unstoppable Comics' best comic book produced, to date.

Far from it, in fact.

However, I quantify that statement by pointing out that the issue, itself, proclaims August 2014 as its actual time of creation, even though the Kickstarter project for this issue didn't end until December 19th, 2014. Thus, there's a span of four months to account for, when weighing and assessing and comparing Interceptor # 1 to other comic books by the same company.

For example, another comic book that they published, one that I recently reviewed - namely, Unstoppable Origins # 4: The Origin of Dr. Zero - asserts September 2014 as its time of creation, even though I read and reviewed it prior to ever reading Interceptor # 1. So, unless Unstoppable Comics got the dates wrong on the inside pages of its own comic books, from a creation point of view, Interceptor issue number one strikes me as an earlier product than The Origin of Dr. Zero. As such, this helps me to reconcile what I feel are some of the shortcomings with Interceptor # 1.

Before I go into greater detail of the issue's respective strengths and weaknesses, I would preface my remarks-to-come with a simple statement that I enjoyed reading the comic book. Rest assured, by this point in time, I count myself as a true fan of Unstoppable Comics. I look forward to each of their new comic books, as they come out, and I think that, by and large, they are doing a very respectable job of publishing what I feel are quality comic book products.

That said, I have no qualms about criticizing various instances of what I feel are points of weakness in the end product that they are putting in the hands of comic book readers.

The credits page of Interceptor # 1 lists the following individuals as being responsible for the comic book that I have just read and am now reviewing. Respectively, they are:

Brandon Easton - Writer
Russ Leach - Illustrator
Michael Summers - Colorist
Letterer - JayDee Rosario
Richard Rodriguez - Editor
Max Dunbar - Variant Cover

Issue number one of Interceptor is a mixed bag, one that leaves me a bit miffed. On the one hand, it contains a select few instances of panels that are spot on the money for being top notch. On the other hand, the bulk of what we see in the panels that collectively comprise the various pages of this comic book do not even remotely rise to that level of praise worthiness.

Interceptor # 1 isn't terrible. It's really not.

But, neither is it terrific.

Instead, it is a mish-mash, a veritable hodgepodge of middle ground accomplishment.

Of the individuals listed in the credits for this comic book, the one that I, personally, think should come in for the least criticism is Max Dunbar. After all, his contribution to the effort that was this issue is confined to the variant front cover for it.

The pre-order front cover does a pretty good job of crafting a visually interesting front cover. It visually entices me, somewhat. It doesn't reach out and grab me, nor does it make me drool with excitement, when I look at it. But, for the most part, the front cover works. It serves its purpose. It gets the job done.

It's job only, though. What it does not get done are the other jobs - namely, the jobs attributed to the other individuals previously listed, above.

Max's variant cover grabs my eye, with Interceptor in running form in the foreground, as a giant Union Jack dominates the background. It's not a better, not more visually interesting, alternative to the pre-order version of the front cover for this comic book, but it does embody more visual energy than its more visually interesting counterpart.

Overall, Russ Leach manages to churn out some pretty decent artwork. This issue was not a stellar performance by Russ, to be certain, where the artwork is concerned, but I will say this for him - his work is consistently good, with much of it being well above par, compared to what you usually find scattered throughout the independent comic book industry.

None of Russ's artwork in this particular issue is terrible. None of it is really even bad. Rather, the biggest visual drain on the artwork rendered by Russ Leach for Interceptor # 1 is the coloring that accompanied it.

Not that I want to say that colorist Michael Summers was the real villain of this issue, but yeah, he was. Sorry, Michael, but it's true.

And that is where the greatest mystery of issue # 1 of Interceptor lies. The great unknown is not the magical ley lines that writer Brandon Easton has dangled before us. Rather, it's how Michael Summers' coloring can vary so greatly across the pages of a single issue.

What the Hell is going on here, guys?

This particular issue runs the coloring gamut from excellent to ho hum. In other words, it's a consistency issue.

I do not believe that Interceptor # 1 is a sterling example of Russ Leach's most imaginative drawing, as an illustrator, but from page to page from front page to last page, Russ Leach's artwork is rendered consistently better than Michael Summers' coloring.

Two of the four panels on the first page of this story are rock solid eye candy, both from a drawing perspective and from a coloring perspective. The other two are little more than an exercise in coloring mediocrity. Not terrible, but nothing to write home about, either.

The villain, Throttle, gets issue # 1 off to a good start.

Colorist Michael Summers' crowning glory for this issue is his treatment in colors of the character known as Throttle, although there are some instances of Interceptor that make Michael's work as a colorist shine.

The far more interesting, Throttle, beating up on Interceptor.

Brandon Easton's contributions as the writer for this issue are successful, all things considered. But, the story that he tells, while it gets the job done, does not make me clamor for more. It was an interesting story. It was OK. It was all right. But, it doesn't make me want to subscribe to Interceptor, compared to how I was left feeling after reading Unstoppable Origins # 4: The Origin of Dr. Zero.

There, somebody needed to slap JayDee Rosario around, and make him stay in a room until he delivered the next issue of Dr. Zero to us. Here, I'm more interested in seeing what Unstoppable Comics comes out with next, more so than I am in following the further adventures of Interceptor. Blame me, if you like, but that's what you guys at Unstoppable Comics made me feel, where Interceptor # 1 is concerned.

Interceptor carries a shield called Pridewynter.
On the editing front, Richard Rodriguez did a better job on the story part, than he did on the punctuation front. The editing needs more attention to detail, but for whatever flaws that it may have, ultimately, it's a very readable story. It's easy to follow, and it's legible.

Which leads us into the lettering, and to my main man over at Unstoppable Comics, the illustrious Jaydee Rosario.
Is this the real JayDee Rosario??

Interceptor # 1 makes use of narrative boxes, something that was noticeably absent from Unstoppable Origins # 4: The Origin of Dr. Zero. Perhaps credit for that should go to the editor, rather than the letterer, but that particular quibble aside, the lettering suffices to get the job done.

At times, it feels a slight bit cramped, relative to the size of the speech bubbles utilized in select instances, but none of it rises to the level of critical.

Far better that the lettering be legible than that it be a visual parade of horribles - as is often the case with comic books published by independent publishers across the comic book industry.

Of course, there is that opening narrative box that is quasi-pale red with yellow lettering - which was definitely not lettering's finest moment.

But, the grand bulk of the lettering is presented with black text in a white speech bubble, which yields solid visual contrast, so that the simple act of reading a comic book doesn't become a form of visual torture.

I like this!
In terms of the special effects lettering presented here, issue # 1 of Interceptor is no tour de force of visual delight. Instead, once again, readers are given the mixed bag treatment. Not horrible, but nothing that rises to a visual majesty. Rather, what we are treated to largely seems to be content to just get the job done.

This, not so much.
This issue of Interceptor continues Unstoppable Comics' apparent tradition of injecting interesting concepts into its storylines. I liked the ley lines concept a lot, and I also liked the link between Interceptor's shield and the famous sword of literary fame, Excalibur. The Axis of Neverwynter also caught my eye and my interest.

But, when all was said and done, I was more interested, as a reader, in one of the villains - Throttle - than I was in the hero, Interceptor.

The villain, Grave Walker, fell flat with me.

Grave Walker in action.
As with many things in the superhero genre, Interceptor # 1 struck me as being more worried with creating an origin story for a character, than in simply telling an interesting tale in a very interesting way.

Sure, it's interesting, because it is new to me. The characters are new, and the story, itself, is new. But, beyond that, it doesn't really win me over to the title's namesake character, nor does it persuade me

that the title, itself, is worth following, as a series.
Rather than drawing me into a compelling storyline, Interceptor # 1 leaves me feeling distant. It's not outright boring, but neither is it particularly exciting. Instead, it is interesting, but interesting with a touch of the mundane.

Nonetheless, for all of its flaws and shortcomings, Interceptor # 1 doesn't make me like Unstoppable Comics, any the less. Each issue presents its own set of challenges, and overall, my impression of the company is a very positive one. I don't have to look forward to what Interceptor is doing next, in order to still be very interested in what Unstoppable Comics is coming out with next.

Publisher: Unstoppable Comics
Brandon Easton - Writer
Russ Leach - Illustrator
Michael Summers - Colorist
Letterer - JayDee Rosario
Richard Rodriguez - Editor
Max Dunbar - Variant Cover

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review - Unstoppable Origins # 4: The Origin of Dr. Zero

From that bastion of comic book superherodom, Unstoppable Comics, comes a comic book titled Unstoppable Origins # 4. I first caught wind of it when it was a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter.

I backed it. The project ended - it's funding goal met and exceeded! Shortly thereafter, a digital copy of the comic book in PDF format made its way into my e-mail in-box.

I consumed it, in short order. Now, after all, not only was this a new title, it was also my first comic book encounter with this company, Unstoppable Comics.

If I may be so bold, if I may be so blunt, the bottom line is that I enjoyed it.

A lot.

For starters, it's got a great front cover. The cover art depicts a guy with energy emanating from behind him, and his clothing is in tatters. He's wearing a metal helmet and gloves. His helmet reminds me of a what you might get if you cross a Cylon with both Rom: Spaceknight and Doctor Doom. That's what it made me think of, anyway. His facial expression, what we see of it, drives home the point that what he is experiencing, from the impact of this energy upon him, is pain.

Having never encountered either the company or the character, before, I really didn't know what to expect - or to think. My impression of what I had encountered, when my impression was formed in its totality based solely and only upon what was being presented on the Kickstarter project page, can be found over on another blog that I wrote by clicking on the following link:

But, that was a review of the Kickstarter project, and what was being presented therein. It was not a review of the comic book, as far as from the perspective of someone who had actually read the finished product. Hence, why I am reviewing the comic book here. Now, I have the advantage of the full experience.

And that, I want to convey, is a good thing.

It really is. I feel that what I ended up receiving was a solid product.

I enjoyed it. It was reading that was both enjoyable and interesting. All things considered, both good and bad, taken together still left me feeling as though I was glad that I had backed the Kickstarter project for this comic book, in the first place, and equally glad (if not more so) that I had took the time and made the effort to read this comic book from cover to cover, all of the way through.

Here, we have a story that makes sense. It gets me interested on page number one, and it retains my interest across the whole issue. When I reached the last page, it left me wanting more.

Ack! It ended here. Why did it have to end so soon.

Great front covers for comic books are OK. They're a good thing. There's a great thing, actually. They grab the eye. They tempt you. But, they don't always relate to what's on the inside.

Unstoppable Origins # 4 doesn't have that problem. The front cover is a perfect choice to tout what lies within, just beyond that initial visual horizon.

The origin at issue in this particular issue is that of one of the super villains from the Unstoppable Comics universe - Dr. Zero.

The issue does a good job, I feel, of not just telling the origin of Dr. Zero, but also, of giving the reader a glimpse of a greater array of characters that populate this universe.

The art and the coloring are what attracted me to this project in the first place - but, it is the storyline of the writer that closes the deal and makes it all work.

In the overall scheme of things, this comic book has more good points than bad points. Actually, it has very few weaknesses, and an abundance of strengths. It is an issue that has substance to it, and on more than one level.

In my considered opinion, the issue's greatest weakness, if it has one, lies in its lettering. Overall, the lettering is OK. In any event, the lettering is legible. I had no problem reading the comic. There are a few minor quibbles with select instances of punctuation and grammar, but I don't want to leave anyone with the wrong impression that it approaches rampant sloppiness - for it doesn't. But, it could have benefited from an even more thorough proof-reading than what it was subjected to.

I don't give the lettering an A+, but neither do I give it a failing grade, all things considered. It would probably get a B rating from me, on the lettering. It is far better than the average independent comic book, as far as those considerations go. These particular criticisms are more a criticism of the editing, than with the lettering, per se, as that is one of the core functions that naturally lie within the editing domain. Yet, it is through the lettering that such shortcomings become noticeable, as these problems are text-based in nature. The bulk of the editing is fine, though.

This issue has some decent special effects artwork encompassed within its pages. This really imbues the comic with a very energetic feeling. The special effects lettering, however, I have mixed feelings about. The strength of the issue does not lie there.

The cast of characters is visually diverse, and visually interesting. The art, itself, is one of the great strengths of this issue. Dynamic poses and good facial expressions make the art more than just pretty pictures to look at. They are integral to making a superhero type comic book to come alive. This issue gets that part of the equation right.

The coloring is solid, but it is not quite as consistently strong across all pages of the issue, as the art that underlies it is. But, it really does contain some very nice instances of color with vibrancy. It caught my eye, during the Kickstarter, and it continued to catch my eye, after I received the final product via e-mail.

Unstoppable Origins # 4, the Origin of Dr. Zero, is flush with color. The quality of the color on display in this issue is head and shoulders above most independent comic books that I encounter. Some of it, though, is solid gold - really great, as far as coloring goes. None of it is terrible.

The writer succeeds in giving us a villain that clicks, one who it is easy to have some sympathy with, as to how he became who he was - and even with why he became a villain.

But, because this is only an origin issue, Dr. Zero begs to be fleshed out, in future stories.

Another of this issue's top strengths lies in its use of panels. There's lots of variety to the panels on display, and even instances of characters breaking out of panels. With a lot of independent comic books, panels seem to be something given little, if any, thought. Here, though, they help to transform the overall work into a true visual treat.

When all is said and done, this issue of this comic book, which served as the gateway for my entry into this particular comic book universe, made a very positive impact upon me. It hooked my interest - not just for this one issue, but for a whole universe that it posits before me.

It left me wanting more - and that, in a nutshell, persuades me that it does an awful lot of things right.

If this is the kind of comic book products that Unstoppable Comics intends to publish, then I think that comic book readers have something worth looking forward to.

Publisher: Unstoppable Comics
Writer: Jaydee Rosario
Illustrator: Russ Leach
Colorist: Michael Summers
Letterer: Jaydee Rosario
Editor: Richard Rodriguez

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Review - Parking Garage Planet (Issue 1)

Parking Garage Planet hails from comic book creator Tim Rocks, whose previous artistic undertakings gave the world Goldbug, Slob-oids, and the Elite Leafblower Corps. Tim is a gifted caricature artist, and I always look forward to seeing what happens, when new ideas meet his artistic talent unleashed. This comic book is published under the Peak Fun label.

The front cover of Issue # 1 sets the stage for a horse of a different color. Billing two of the characters depicted on the front cover as "the most shocking new duo yet seen in print" - aka the Sale Sisters, the comic makes a bold grab for the reader's attention. Yet, if they are so shocking a duo, then why are they cowering on the front cover?

The real visual heavyweight that dominates the visuals on the front page is none other than the notorious Dubell Decka. Think big, as in a double decker bus, people, or a double-decker parking garage, if you prefer. She is upstaged on the front cover only by the colorful words which emanate from her mouth.

I won't say that Parking Garage Planet is Tim's best work to date, nor that the setting is one of my personal favorites, simply because neither would be true. But, in all fairness, this comic book does demonstrate, anew, certain aspects of the comic book craft that Tim Rocks excels at.

In an attempt to love this comic, I went back and forth through it multiple times. Nonetheless, it failed to grab me. The storyline isn't one that I want to sink my teeth into, and come back for more, issue after issue after issue.

Oh, it starts out well enough. The front cover's artwork may not seize my attention, but the dialogue does. Sentry gimps. Youthful fashionistas. Hoped-for heroes. Verbally, Issue # 1 is talking the talk, right there on the front cover, and soon enough, the reader is treated to a two-page Kirby-esque "splash page" of action. That's what the great moped jump scene reminds me of, anyway.

Without question, Parking Garage Planet flirts continuously with the imagination. Imaginative is one of Tim Rock's stock-in-trade staples of the comic book art form. His characters are imaginatively drawn. His dialogue tends to be heavily saturated with imaginative verbiage.

Parking Garage Planet is a smorgasbord of imaginative touches. Whether it's a character singing words from a Statler Brothers song, or the use of Goo-Goo Clusters as an obsessive literary device, or a villain who reeks of being a watered-down Darkseid, of sorts, Parking Garage Planet does not disappoint, when it comes to being imaginative, when it comes to utilizing ordinary things in an imaginative way.

When it comes to panels, however, while Tim Rocks is clearly comfortable at the craft of rendering sequentials, Parking Garage Planet Issue # 1 is tepid in its embrace of panels, themselves, as an artform. Why an individual possessed of such mastery in multiple areas of the comic book craft presented this story and its art within the frames of such an unimaginative set of panels is beyond me. It's not as though Tim Rocks possesses no skill in that area, either. The panels in Issue # 1 of Parking Garage Planet warrant Tim Rocks taking a trip into the Pit, way down in the sub-sub-sub basement level. Tim knows what I'm talking about, with this reference, even if you don't.

Story-wise, this issue carries us along with the Sale Sisters, as they deal with the "discovery" of their parents supposed double-suicide, by going shopping, in search of (what else?) sales. Along the way, they manage to end up on the Parking Garage Planet, even though they started out on Earth. Beware strange rings and even stranger elevators!

I think that what I hate the most about this issue of Parking Garage Planet is not so much what I, the reader, was treated to, but rather, that which I was only teased with, but which Tim squandered in passing.

The lady in the booth. The aunt and uncle that were flying in, but weren't. Tobiz.

Some of the more visually interesting characters to greet my eye during my flipping of the pages in this comic book turned out to only warrant the cameo treatment from Tim. It was almost as if Tim was more interested in an artificial page count than in grabbing the reader and yanking them fully into the full depth of his imagination unleashed. When some of the best eye-candy leads to visual dead ends, that can't be good for a comic book.

This issue builds to the crescendo of Dubell Decka's appearance, but then it becomes anti-climactic, after that. Ultimately, I'm left not really knowing what I think - or feel - about this issue, it's storyline, its cast of characters, or where the whole ball of literary wax is going.

I want to like it. I don't end up liking Tim Rock's art and comic book craftsmanship any the less than I did heading into reading this book. But, what's a reader to make of it all?

In the end, when all is said and done, I find myself wondering aloud to myself what the whole point of it all was. Yeah, sure, maybe it needs more issues, to allow Tim sufficient room to chart out this imaginative place that is the Parking Garage Planet and to expound upon the details and the personalities that populate this world.

But, without that, issue # 1 is what it is, and for my two cents worth, I'm not entirely sure what it is that I ended up with.

The lettering is sufficient. It's not bad. But, his lettering skill isn't nearly as developed as Tim's skill with dialogue. His skill with crafting dialogue is, in my considered judgment, superior to his skill at storytelling. He is better within a particular panel, than he is across panels.

And, maybe that's part of what' wrong with Issue # 1 of Parking Garage Planet. I think that, clearly, Tim's imagination was along for the ride - but, what about his heart? There are instances, segments if you will, that I love about this issue. But, do I love the story and its storyline? No, not really.

You can find Parking Garage Planet Issue # 1 online, if you want to check it out for yourself. It can be found here. Or, if you just want to check out Tim's blog and website, that can be found here, instead.

As far as I know, Tim Rocks did all of the writing, art, lettering, and color for Issue # 1 of Parking Garage Planet. The sum total of his talents and skill sets are many, and while I don't consider this issue or this title to be Tim at his best, nonetheless, I do applaud him for continuing to push the envelope on what he is willing to artistically dabble in.

NOTE: I was sent a digital copy of Parking Garage Planet, Issue # 1, in PDF format, so that I could review it.