30 Jan 2014

Caught In The Web: Roundup 30/01/2014

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.

D4VE #2
Writer: Ryan Ferrier
Art: Valentin Ramon

Matt C: A bonkers but ingenious ‘how come no one did this before?’ premise that continues to surprise and amuse in equal measure. Imagine a world where artificial intelligence took over, extinguished organic life on Earth and then the rest of the galaxy, only to go on to create a mundane approximation of contemporary human existence, where the robot population are endlessly distracted by the trivial and the inconsequential. And now imagine that all life wasn’t quite wiped out and there are a bunch of aliens ready to reassert their dominance. Can our daydreaming, slacker protagonist step up and prove his heroism? Maybe, but it’ll be with great difficulty! This is a superbly illustrated and tremendously entertaining series that has quite quickly shown itself to be one of the highlights on Monkeybrain’s already impressive roster. 8/10

THE RESERVOIR: A WESTERN IN BLACK, WHITE + BLOOD
Writer: Tim Gibson
Art: Tim Gibson

Matt C: A prequel of sorts to the excellent Moth City series, but one that doesn’t require any knowledge of that digital book, or indeed lead directly into it in any specific sense. So you could probably view it as a standalone tale if you’re unfamiliar with Gibson’s work but it’s my guess that it would be highly unlikely that you’d want to leave it at that. It differs to Moth City in a number of ways – no guided view, no dialogue, a limited colour palette – but there are plenty of similarities, the most obvious being its central character, but also the tone it sets, with large stretches of compelling bleakness punctuated with flashes of warmth and hope. It’s intense and violent, and gives readers of Moth City an insight into what has shaped a certain man, what’s set him on a certain path, as well as making it apparent that there was a darkness lingering inside all along, which is emphasized by the stark black and white imagery (with the occasional splash of blood red). An essential companion piece for fans of Moth City to immerse themselves in. 8/10

THE PRIVATE EYE #5
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Marcos Martin & Muntsa Vicente

Matt C: The Private Eye retains its capacity to shock, to the point where plot twists that should have been obvious from the get go knock you for six when they arrive. It’s a gloriously realised world: the detail both Vaughan and Martin bring to it, with their mixture of words and images, is pretty incredible, and the characterization sings thanks to Vaughan’s colloquial dialogue and Martin’s unique way with expressions. The cherry on the cake is the colouring by Muntsa Vicente: bold and vibrant, the bright hues utilized help to create an intensely satisfying visual experience. The Private Eye is one of the best reasons around for buying some sort of tablet and jumping into the world of digital comics. 9/10

WORLD WAR MOB #1
Writer: Vito Delsante
Art: Giancarlo Caracuzzo

Matt C: A men-on-a-mission tale where a group of mob-affiliated soldiers are set the clandestine task of assassinating Mussolini? Sounds like an offer too good to refuse, and thankfully World War Mob pretty much delivers on its promise by blending wartime action with gangster violence. Obviously writer Delsante isn’t delivering a historically accurate recreation of true-life events here but he succeeds in bringing some authenticity to the proceedings by keeping the events grounded and believable, even if the dialogue does acknowledge the rhythms familiar from movies of the era. This authenticity is bolstered by Caracuzzo’s illustrations, which carry a great sense of time and place, the colour selections brilliantly enhancing the end product. A rousing old-fashioned Boy’s Own adventure with a twist, World War Mob should appeal to those who spent their youth reading Commando comics and now spend their adulthood riveted by Boardwalk Empire. 8/10

BLASTOSAURUS: WELCOME TO FREAK OUT CITY #1
Writers: Richard Fairgray & Terry Jones
Art: Richard Fairgray & Tara Black

Matt C: A slightly unhinged debut, and I mean that as a compliment. Flipping back and forth between three different time periods (past, present and future) it’s the kind of approach that could easily cause the narrative to topple in on itself if it wasn’t kept from the brink through a mixture of wit, irreverence and no small amount of smarts. Time travel, genetically mutated dinosaurs and law-enforcing robots all get their moment in the spotlight, and while a certain amount of info is revealed to the reader, enough is retained to keep an element of mystery in play, combining to produce a brightly coloured, slightly madcap package that offers plenty of impetus to return for a second round. 8/10

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