Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review - Digital Webbing Presents - Spotlight Special - Issue # 1

I first read this comic book, Digital Webbing Presents Spotlight Special Issue # 1, a few months back. But, having begun focusing more on writing comic book reviews, of late, I wanted to go back and dig it up.


Well, to share a few of my thoughts about it, of course, and to spotlight this Spotlight Special, because I think that it is worthy of bringing some attention to.

Again, though, I pose the question: Why?

Well, mainly it's because of the second of the two tales that this particular issue encompasses within the scope of its pages.

Not because the first story has no merit, because it does. Rather, I have a friend who runs his own pest control business, so naturally, I thought of him, when I began reading the second story in this issue.

Good facial expressions. Nice special effects.

But, that's more of a reason as to why I was drawn to it, rather than why it warrants an actual review. The fact of the matter is that I just plain enjoyed the story, itself, as well as the characters that it contained.
Solid lettering & speech bubbles.

Comic books are a medium of expression that are well-equipped to bring any kind of concept to life. One of the reasons that I like comic books is because they invariably cause me to spend more time thinking about them, than it takes for me to actually read them. In other words, the imagination-to-reading ration tends to be fairly high. It is usually a net positive for the imagination side of the equation.

But, lest the creators behind the first tale, The Last Paladin, think that I have entirely dispensed with mention of them, let's talk about that story, first.

The Last Paladin is the longer of the two tales contained within this issue, with the shorter story being the one featuring the Klik Boom Exterminators, Got Buggz?

BAM! Power on display!
A comparison of the two tales to one another strikes me as a very natural thing to do, even though they are quite different in their approach to telling their respective stories.

The Last Paladin is a serious read. It is a tale that is told in a serious vein. It means business.

Got Buggz? is, by contrast, an exercise in humor. It doesn't take itself too seriously, at all. Then again, you shouldn't either.

I want to compare the two, for the very simple reason that they are close by one another, stuffed side-by-side into the same issue, together. They are conveniently situated, which makes it extremely convenient for me to think about one, while I am thinking about the other. The issue, as a whole, benefits from the depth and range that containing more than one story typically provides.

Great special effects lettering really makes the page vibrate, visually!

If you like the color blue, then this issue should be a good choice for you - for the entire issue is awash in it. That is more of an observation-in-passing, than anything else. It's just something that I noticed, while reading this comic book. It stood out to me. My eyes took notice of it.

Tool of the superhero trade.
 The Last Paladin starts out with an accident. It isn't long before Dr. Zack Machin finds himself unexpectedly transformed into an Atlantian Paladin, which as it turns out, is a royal guard of Atlantis.

The Atlantis connection to this story isn't expected, at first. Rather, it is sprung upon you, mid-story. That's a good thing, though, in this instance, because the story takes on a more dynamic and energetic look, thereafter.

The look of the paladin character reminds me of Doctor Fate, somewhat. Notably, the helm and the color scheme of his costume are responsible for this mental association, even though I don't walk away from this story with the feeling that the character is a rip off of Doctor Fate.

Pitiful looking attempts at zombies.
That said, I do have some personal nits to pick with it - but, they may well be nits that others simply don't share my occupation with.

I like the lettering. It's really good, both the English and the Atlantis-inspired equivalent. Good lettering, though, tends to be something that the reader doesn't notice. Instead, it tends to get taken for granted. You tend to notice - and pay attention to - lettering more, if it isn't good.

The special effects lettering helps bring the visuals to life. Special effects lettering is a form of eye candy - and the candy is visually tasty, in this one! On page one of The Last Paladin, I am not a fan of the lettering for the credits. The white text with blue outline, in conjunction with the font choice in use, makes it difficult for me to make the names of those responsible for producing this story without me zooming in on my PDF copy of this comic book.
Women can be trouble.

But, who really cares about the credits, right? Well, aside from those who actually produced this baby, probably not many, I suspect.

Overall, I think that it's a hard call, between the artist and the colorist, as to who did the better job with The Last Paladin. My eye tends to favor the colorist on this one, though. But, if the special effects lettering wasn't there, honestly, I just plain don't know.

Unlike the second tale, Got Buggz?, the first story makes frequent resort to narrative boxes. The Last Paladin features what I will call a double edge, on the lower and right edges of the narrative boxes, for instances where the narrative boxes are used strictly for dialogue between characters, as opposed to instances where they are used for narration, itself. Now, is this a better approach to utilizing narrative boxes? Honestly, I don't know. Functionally, there's a difference, but visually speaking, what's the net gain for the reader? For me, personally, there really wasn't any.

It looks better up close, than when read at actual size.

Rather, as I go back and flip back and forth through The Last Paladin, those narrative boxes catch my eye - but, not in a good way.

Good visual!
As I continue flipping the pages of this comic book, my eye begins to appreciate the colorist more, and the artist less. The artist gets the job done, but the visual impact brought forth in the panels is dominated by the colorist. The colorist was more consistent with making the pages feel energetic, than the artist was with the rendering of facial expressions for emotional effect. In a way, it's a comparison of apples to oranges, but comparisons of various types are part and parcel of what a review process necessarily entails.

One area where I will hold the colorist out for special criticism is in the coloring of the skin of characters in The Last Paladin. In instances, it looks globbed on, and the coloring of human skin was the weakest area of performance by the colorist for this particular story.

I love the rough edges. It adds an aged look.
Apparently, a royal guard of Atlantis has multiple options at their disposal, when it comes to combat. They carry sidearms and they possess powers that are not sidearm-dependent.

The human eye is a very hi-tech device. It is geared towards color and contrast. It is well-versed in nuance and degree. I really wish I better understood why the creators of The Last Paladin opted for the color scheme that they chose for the narrative boxes. Overall, the choice made for less visual contrast on the pages. Pages soaked in blue were treated to more blue, and pages clothed with brown were treated to even more brown. Why is that to be desired, I wonder? What drives colorists to make decisions like this?

The darker blue narrative boxes near the end of The Last Paladin, the ones adorned with white text, those provided the least visual contrast - and text is something that performs best, visually, when contrast is strong. This was actually the worst part of the comic book's construction. It visually detracts from the storytelling, as it seeks to drive my eye away. In layman's terms, it's eyehurt. Oh, sure, the zoom option is always there, for a comic book being read in digital format. But, simply to read a comic book, I don't feel that I should even have to worry about whether to zoom in or not. If I have to, then deficiency in the construction of the comic book has set in.
A Turth Blade, dammit!
The Last Paladin doesn't waste a lot of time introducing you to the characters populating its panels. But, it does a decent enough job of setting the reader up for what is to follow in the next issue.

The panelwork, itself, is pretty good. It offers diversity in the visual presentation of the story, and the panels add to the telling of the story.

Now, on to the second tale presented in this comic book - Got Buggz?

Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters or Klik Boom? Bugs are more common that ghosts.

What we have here is a delightful little (as in short, aka brief) story about a couple of exterminators taking a job - a job that turns out not quite as expected.

Great character depictions help to bring this story to life. Kudos to the artist for that!

It knocked the wind out of me, too.
These particular exterminators are well-armed to get the job done. But, that doesn't stop them from the error of their own ways.

I don't think that bungling is the right word to describe them, but they sure do get in over their head - and really quick, at that.

If words could kill, then these fellows would be the deadliest guys in the business, because they are dialogue-blessed. But, it suits them, and it serves the story well.

Yeah, Harry! Go on!
The characters are colorful, well-animated, and full of facial expressions. This combination lies at the very core of why I love them!

Instead of bungling, the word that I am looking for is antics. These guys are full of antics, and when all is said and done, they know how to deliver on the humor.

Did I mention that they seem to be made out of what?

What the Hell?!

But, it makes for some good visuals.

The lettering in Got Buggz? is solid. It's another positive performance by letterer Ed Dukeshire.

Beautiful lettering, beautiful bubbles! Nice tie.
The special effects lettering? Well, compared to The Last Paladin, special effects lettering is not the strength of Got Buggz? It's been all but exterminated, it seems, though in the few instances in which it is used, it is utilized in a subdued manner. It doesn't hurt the story, though.

Overall, Got Buggz? is a vastly cleaner visual presentation than The Last Paladin. The colorist makes use of a far wider range of colors, and my eye is loving it. Narrative boxes are nowhere to be found, with the text being handled by some nicely rendered speech bubbles.

Lest I be remiss, though, the speech bubbles in The Last Paladin looked good, as well. They certainly contributed to that story far more than the narrative boxes did, as far as the visual quality of that production is concerned.

A great visual. That van with the big bug on top helps to set the mood.

At a mere eight pages in length, our friendly exterminators at Klik Boom don't receive much in payment in the form of page allocation. Nonetheless, they still manage to get the job done.

The story of his life, no doubt.
The last page sews their performance up rather nicely, I think. It left me wanting more.

So, if you have a craving for a comic book story to read, or if you just need an exterminator, give Klik Boom a call.

They'll be glad that you did!

Digital Webbing Presents - Spotlight Special - Issue # 1
Publisher: Digital Webbing Press
Story: The Last Paladin
Writer: Ian Ascher
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Matt Webb
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Randy Buccini
Logo: Scott LeMien

Story: Got Buggz?
Writer: Ron Phillips
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Colorist: Chris Mendoza
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Ed Dukeshire

Don't be a dog or a doofus! Read this story, instead.

No comments:

Post a Comment