Friday, January 23, 2015

Review - Puny Mortals - Issue # 0

Thou shalt not judge a book by its cover!

Not only is this the case with comic books, generally, but it applies with special force in the present instance. Issue zero of Puny Mortals is one of the shortest comic books that I have read, of late. This, I assure you, is regrettable.

Hailing from the press of In Comics, Puny Mortals is puny fare, indeed - if what you are after is a comic book title with no successive issues. It's harder to be more mortal, as a comic book, than when you've been relegated by your own creators to the ignominy of single issue status.

But, when you've got some decent material going on, on the interior pages, a mystery is conjured up. Namely, the kind of mystery that begs to know why, in God's name, that the powers that be behind this little venture of a comic book never followed up issue zero with the very same substance that this mini-issue of a comic book was packing?

But, it is not for me to decide the fate of all comic books. I'm a late comer, to this one, although I freely admit that I encountered it, previously - only, at that time, I wasn't risen from the swamps of primordial reviewer ooze that I have seemingly aspired to, since then.

Vaporizer kicking ass!
Maybe the creators of Puny Mortals didn't quite realize the little gem of a comic book that they had on their hands. Comic book publishers are, after all, a rather creative sort. Perhaps they fled the universe of Puny Mortals, in search of greener comic book pastures elsewhere. In any event, it's a true shame - for I really do like this snazzy little breeze of a read.

The entire issue, from front to back, is a mere eleven pages. For a comic book that aspires to tale its own version of superhero tales, that makes it a tight fit to try and cram a decent story into a the mere space of nine interior pages.

But, be that as it may, Puny Mortals issue zero manages to leave me wanting more. I'm just afraid that more isn't just around the proverbial corner. Indeed, Puny Mortals may have been more puny than any of us could ever even hope to realize, for it doesn't currently seem to be a priority for anybody to continue.

Are YOU a Snad??

Except, of course, for me!

With the bulk of independently published comic books that I encounter, more often than not, what potential readers are met with are decent looking front covers, while the interior pages are often little more than visually toxic artistic sludge. I hate to be the one to say it - but, I'm saying it!

Bloodsucker at your service.
Yet, Puny Mortals managed to evade that common fate, and in the process, it managed to turn that traditional comic book publishing equation squarely on its head.

If you can bring yourself to disregard the visually embalmed look of the credits page, and press on to the actual interior pages of this comic book, what you will find is some decent looking artwork, which in turn is bolstered by some passable coloring.

Just don't stare too closely, or for too long, at various characters' heads. Don't ask why - just don't do it!

For all of its talk about Snads, this is no Snad of a read. It's got some visual gonads growing on it.

Super villain, Road Kill, is just rolling right along.

Now, don't misunderstand. This micro-length comic book has little hope of pounding you into a perpetual state of visual oblivion bliss. But, all across its pages, the interior shines with the gossamer of substance.

Who has the power, now?!
In other words, this here is some solid stuff, folks. I mean, where else are you going to find super villains named Road Kill sporting over-sized tires as weapons?

Is it cheesy? Sure, it is! But, after all, superherodom of comic books is replete with countless instances of campiness or cheesiness. It is easily convertible into something that can be useful, both in a visual sense and in a literary sense.

All things considered, the art is superior to the coloring, in issue zero of Puny Mortals. But, I dare say that the colorist gets the laugh laugh - a booming, bellowing laugh, and without even laughing at all. Near the end of the book, the colorist explodes upon the page, and the reader is treated to a moment of vibrant color and visual impact that rises above the bar of the ordinary.

For the most part, though, the colorist took a subdued path on issue zero of Puny Mortals. While this is not an inherently bad thing, it does come at a visual price. While it does drain this issue of a noticeable amount of energy, nonetheless, it plays right into the hands of the mood that this comic book seeks to strike. A little gloom, anyone?

Stupid is as stupid does. Don't be stupid - Read Puny Mortals!

Puny Mortals tells us about how a Joe Blow might buy a "gadget" on the power market. Little does this comic book or its creators seem to realize that they have quite the gadget in their possession, all along. In the search for creating something bigger and better and more interesting, one would be well-served to more fully appreciate what they already have in the palm of their hand.

Just a nice little scene from the comic.
But, what do I know about any of it?

Not nearly enough, I'll tell you that.

Even still, I do know what I like when I see it, even if I can't always explain the "why" behind my particular likes, as they relate to comic books.

Puny Mortals showcases power, and it does so under the guise of impotence. It is a tale of wannabees, of ordinary people who dream of the chance to strike a super-powered blow of their own.

What this aspect of the concept is, is a way to connect with you or I - the humble readers that do more than just read comic books. We think about them. We wonder about them. Sometimes, we even live vicariously through them.

How else do you explain all of these super-powered thoughts that run through our minds, at any given hour of the day?

Which is why it is an especially sharp loss to see this little title not continued on.

This is exactly how I feel, knowing that the next issue is nowhere to be found.
So much promise (and decently executed, at that), but a legacy of merely a single one. One issue. That's it.

The comic book world is all the poorer for it, too!

This little comic book has decent lettering, too. Did I mention that?

The tale, itself, is told through a combination of narrative boxes and dialogue, with the narrative boxes taking the dominant form on the pages that unfold before you.

So much potential!

Yet, a great bulk of it remains unrealized, to this very day.

Pity such puny mortals!

The lettering is good, and helps make Puny Mortals an enjoyable read.

Could've been.

Wow! The creators of Puny Mortals certainly coined the right phrase with that one, for this tiny giant is a sterling example of what could have been.

Is Puny Mortals' future obliterated?
Of what could still be.

But, this review comes late in the day, proverbially speaking. One might as well wish and hope for super-powered gadgets from the power market, for one's very own - for that is probably as likely to succeed as wishing into the Internet aether for this mini-me of potential to come roaring back from where it has lain collecting dust, in the time between when it was first released and now.

So, while I won't be holding my breath for Puny Mortals to make a come back, I will make the effort to memorialize this exercise in comic-book-could've-been in review form, that its creation not have been entirely in vain.

Sometimes, you see, the little guy is worth remembering, worth reflecting upon, worth seeing in action.

Even if he doesn't make it.

Even if she doesn't succeed.

Even if his or her best laid plans go astray, in doomed bids to influence the demons and demi-gods of a super powered universe that the big guys of comic bookdom can't be bothered to give us.

When Zoomba is not enough, call Ball Lightning!
We might never be so fortunate as to learn the fate of Ball Lightning, but at least she made a valiant attempt to end an episode of chaos that the super villain of the hour had thrust upon the world.

But, maybe she had simply had enough, and walked away into the sunset where all comic book go to never be read, again.

Or, like me, perhaps she is still out there, lurking in the shadows of the Internet, just waiting for one more chance to unleash her power upon the unsuspecting comic book ilk of this universe.

When all is said and done, I like it - this Puny Mortals, as they call it.

That's why I'm giving it this not-so-puny recommendation to others, to those of you others out there who are looking for some good comic books to read.

Puny Mortals issue number two comes at a very puny - albeit affordable - price. That's right, it's free for the downloading.

Be bold! Grab your copy of it, today!

Puny Mortals - Issue # 0
Publisher: In Comics
Writer: Christopher Howard Wolf
Artist: David Newbold
Colors: Keith Garletts

Click HERE to download a free copy of
Puny Mortals - Issue # 0 in PDF format!

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