7 Mar 2014

Caught In The Web: Roundup 07/03/2014

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.

MARVEL’S CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER INFINITE COMIC #1
Writer: Peter David
Art: Daniel Govar, Rock-He Kim & Rain Beredo

Matt C: So there’s some movie coming out in a few weeks. It’s got Captain America in it. You may have heard of him. I hear it’s supposed to be quite good. This, on the other hand, isn’t. I’ve never been a particular fan of movie tie-ins as they never seem like the real deal. There’s the movie Cap and there’s the comic Cap, and there’s such a big difference in each medium that looking at a hand drawn movie Cap, trying to picture him as Chris Evans, doesn’t really work. It never really feels like these are cannon – they always sell them as preludes to the films, as though the events might have some bearing on what happens on the screen, when in reality it’s an often tenuous link that doesn’t give the reader any sort of head start over the rest of the moviegoing audience. You think Evans knows the contents of this tale and amended his performance accordingly? Me neither. No matter the talent involved, these things are ultimately pointless. 4/10

STRANGE NATION #4
Writer: Paul Allor
Art: Juan Romera

Matt C: A quirky, enormously fun mish-mash of conspiracy theories, criptids, aliens, kings of rock’n’roll and more, Strange Nation is packed with pulp imagination as it ties up a number of familiar tropes into a neat package. It’s both knowing and genuine, managing to take what could amount to a lot of eye-rolling plot elements and make them funny, thrilling and moving by adding some real wit and invention. There’s something wide-eyed and infectious about Romera's art which both grounds and inflates the mad cap thrills in Allor’s script to the point where it’s impossible to complete an issue without a grin on your face. Where else but comics are you going to find a army of sasquatches assisting the human resistance against secret alien invaders? 8/10

DAREDEVIL: ROAD WARRIOR #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Art: Peter Krause & John Kalisz

Matt C: This could so easily have been a placeholder, something knocked out between the end of one volume of Daredevil and the release of another, a bit of digital promotion to enhance the relaunch. Yep, it could have been throwaway but it’s quite clearly anything but. Not only is it a great continuation from where Waid left things with Daredevil #36, it's arguably the most exciting thing to happen to the character since the writer came onboard. Why? Well, Waid has always emphasised Daredevil’s uniqueness in the pantheon of superheroes, bringing his radar sense to the fore in ways that let artists really go for broke when visually conveying how the Man Without Fear views the world. The eye-popping sequence here involves a total 360 circle around Murdock’s POV as he’s sat in plane picking up on the humdrumness of the other passengers via his own distinctive senses, and it works brilliantly because it’s something that wouldn’t have the same effect on the printed page. It’s an example of Waid (a big proponent of digicomics, as his Thrillbent enterprise bears out) grabbing the storytelling possibilities this particular method of delivery offers, with Krause showing that he’s rather a good fit for ol’ Hornhead, both from the POV perspective and the classic comic book stylings. The second issue (released this week) doesn’t utilize the guided view option to the same extent, but fortunately the tale Waid is telling is thoroughly absorbing in its own right. If you’re a fan of the writer’s run on the title then you need to get hold of this, and if you’ve not got a tablet or similar then beg, borrow or steal to enable yourself to get your eyes on this comic! 10/10

THE REMAINS #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Art: A.C. Zamudio & Carlos Nicolas Zamudio

Matt C: Damned and Sixth Gun from Oni Press are where I discovered a writer who has proven remarkably adept at applying supernatural themes to different genres, and now Cullen Bunn shows that he’s just as good at taking those themes further and marshalling together a tale of slow burning horror. A mysterious stranger shows up at a remote farm, claiming to be looking for work, but while the farmer is happy for the help to compensate for his diminishing health, one of his daughters immediately senses something’s amiss. When dead rodents are revived with homicidal fury, her fears seem to have merit. This is about atmosphere and a sense of encroaching menace, and it works because Bunn knows how to pace things correctly and has a great ear for regional vernacular. The Zamudio art team provide genuine warmth to the characters which makes the inevitable blood splashes more striking. It reminded me in tone and - in some ways – content of Scott Snyder’s Severed, and as that’s one of the rare horror books I’ve engaged with in recent times, that’s a good sign. 8/10

WESTWARD #2
Writer: Ken Krekeler
Art: Ken Krekeler

Matt C: This is an ongoing Kickstarter project, with each issue being funded separately (they’re up to issue #7 now I believe), but it’s now available to a wider audience via Comixology. It offers a pretty neat journey into the future where the son of a wealthy businessman has awoken from a long coma and needs to reengage with a world that’s changed since he’s been gone. Or has he really been anywhere and is he really who he thinks he is? Philosophical questions abound, and they’re handled with a decent amount of insight, as Krekeler wonders what makes us who we are, and how many changes – both mental and physical – can take place before we become someone eles. Yes, it’s basically moving into full blown steampunk territory, a genre that’s never held much appeal for me, but I can’t deny this is a compelling, measured read that rewards both the eyes and the mind. 7/10

GOGETTERS #1
Writer: Shawn Aldridge
Art: Christopher Peterson & Nick Johnson

Matt C: There’s enough premium quality in Monkeybrain’s roster that I’ll pretty much try anything they release. Not all of them hit the mark, and that’s not to say they’re duds, just that they don’t always tally up with my sensibilities. I kind of enjoyed GoGetters, which provides an offbeat look at a rather unusual ‘retrieval’ service, bolstered by some energetic imagery and knowing humour, but ultimately it was a bit too lightweight, not really finding much purchase in my noggin. Fine as it goes, but even at the attractive prices Monkeybrain offer their books at, there are titles that work better for me that will be getting my digital pennies. 6/10

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