21 Sept 2012

Caught In The Web: Roundup 21/09/2012

In Caught In The Web, we set aside the printed funny books temporarily to delve into the world of digital and web comics. Here we 'roundup' a selection of releases that have been launched into cyberspace over the past few weeks.

Writer: Joshua Williamson
Art: Mike Henderson
Monkeybrain Comics $0.99

Matt C: This is turning into a pretty nifty series, taking a gangsters-eye view of a Golden Age setting, and now the second instalment is done it looks like it’s possibly going down the route of showing crooks upping their game to compete with the costumed crime-fighters. One of the key strengths of Masks And Mobsters is that it makes the hoods the focus - at this point the superheroes are on the periphery, and because of the era spotlighted (where organised crime was really getting cemented in American society) it provides an interesting perspective on some very familiar tropes. Henderson’s art is the other major strength, employing exaggerated stylings for his illustrations that evoke the classic comic book noir look while adding a dash of realism for good measure. Very promising stuff. 7/10

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Art: Steve Lieber
Monkeybrain Comics $0.99

Matt C: An emotive little tale that first appeared in an anthology back in 2005 and hasn’t been seen since receives a welcome digital ‘reprint’. It’s an autobiographical work from Kurt Busiek, a guy you may well have heard of(!), a writer who arguably produces his best work when he’s not doing the work for hire thing, and it sees him reflecting on childhood memories in the wake of becoming a dad for the first time. If you’ve been in that position, you’ll immediately be able to relate to this story, and even though it’s a very personal take on fatherhood, the themes it covers – especially the hopes and dreams you have when you hold your infant child in your arms – are universal. It’s brief but thoroughly affecting, the lightness and delicacy of Lieber’s illustrations conveying the warmth of Busiek’s narration. 8/10

Writer: Andrew Dabb
Art: Giorgio Pontrelli & Antonio Fabela
DC $0.99

Matt C: If this was an original idea it might have been more successful, but it’s not, so it wasn’t. A superhero tale involving a movie being filmed based on said superhero on their home turf. Yes, you’ve seen it before, I’ve seen it before, I don’t know how many times… that’s a rhetorical question, answers on a postcard if you must. Anyway, a bunch of Hollywood types are shooting a Batman movie in Gotham, and you just know some crooks are going to pop up, leading to an inevitable appearance by the real Dark Knight himself. In this case it’s the Joker and Harley Quinn, and various punch-ups and explosions later the guy playing movie Batman still doesn’t get what makes a man dress up as a bat to fight crime. Yep, alll a bit too familiar there – he was either going to get enlightened or remain clueless, there doesn’t seem to be any other place these types of stories go. I wish I didn’t have to be so down on this, but the best I can say about it is that it’s competent. It’s the kind of throwaway tale you would have expected to see in the ‘90s, and it’s a bit ironic to see DC try and flog hackneyed ideas via the latest technology. 5/10

Writer: Matthew Dow Smith
Art: Matthew Dow Smith
Monkeybrain Comics $0.99

Matt C: October Girl initially seemed like it was going to be one of those slice-of-life, indie dramas about a teenage girl getting to grips with approaching adulthood, and in a sense it is that, but it’s also something else, something I wasn’t expecting, but found to be rather captivating indeed. Autumn is a bit kooky, very introspective, and is watching all those childhood fantasies that used to get her through the day being steamrolled by the stark reality of grown-up responsibilities. So far, so predictable, you might say, but Autumn’s voice is strong enough that she comes across as endearing rather than annoying. And then there’s the fact that, starting with her imaginary friend Barnaby, those aforementioned childhood fantasies seem to have burst through into the real world. Smith’s sharp, straight linework imbues his writing with a strong grounding, and the story is perfectly paced, leaving you eager to see what happens next. Highly impressive. 8/10

1 comment:

Rob N said...

When I eventually get round to getting an ipad (it keeps getting put off because I seem to spend all my money on other things!) I'll check out the various digital comics out there. It sounds like there's some interesting experimental stuff going on, and far be it for me to be an ostrich with his head stuck in the sand. :)

- Rob N