8 Aug 2013

Caught In The Web: MOTH CITY #4

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: Tim Gibson
Art: Tim Gibson

Matt C: Because of all the instantaneous 'knowledge' now accessible via the internet, these days it's hard to approach any piece of art without preconceptions and expectations. Being bombarded with information prior to the release of a movie/comic/whatever means you've already begun to formulate an idea of what you think it will be, and how you think you'll respond to it. It's a natural reaction, and there are a lot of positive aspects to it, but it does take pure surprise out of the equation. As such, it's rare to come to anything without any expectations, stumbling across a piece of work as if by accident and then finding yourself pulled along into a journey through unknown territory.

That pretty much sums up the discovery of Moth City for me. Scrolling through the new digital-only releases on Comixology a couple of months back I was struck immediately by the imposing cover of issue #1, and it was a strong enough image to suggest that it’d be a meaty read, something to digest rather than forget minutes after getting through it. Although I didn’t know what to expect I was still surprised by the contents, a tale that showed shady characters dealing chemical weapons in the midst of the Chinese Civil War. Not an area of history I’m particularly familiar with, I’ll readily admit, but the mix of intriguing, potentially duplicitous characters and an edgy illustrative style that elicited a noiresque atmosphere and used panel transitions to enhance the tension and sense of danger hooked me instantly. It may all look incredibly handsome if it’s ever collected in the physical format but it won’t be able to replicate some of the effective tricks on display that are only viewable digitally.

That’s how it started, but things gradually shifted into more science fictional territory, and with this issue it’s much clearer where things are headed as writer/artist Tim Gibson lays a lot more of his cards on the table. I could deploy the ‘z-word’ here but as this book has so cleverly wrong-footed me up to this point I’m not going to linger too heavily on that aspect – suffice to say there are some tried and tested horror tropes that come into play but they’re approached from such a different angle that it gives the impression that you’re witnessing something unique, no matter how familiar the trappings.

Moth City is a smart, ambitious, genre-bending series that constantly surprises, makes brilliant use of technology to aid storytelling, and marks Gibson out as a ferocious new talent on the scene with ideas to spare. 9/10

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