26 Mar 2015

Caught In The Web: Roundup 26/03/2015

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 recently launched into cyberspace.

THE PRIVATE EYE #10
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Marcos Martin &  Muntsa Vicente

Matt C: Two years after it first appeared, essentially changing the rules of how comics could be delivered to readers in game-changing fashion, The Private Eye comes to its dramatic, brilliant conclusion. A story set in a future without the internet, where the villain of the piece wants to bring back the internet, in a comic only available on the internet, it makes some salient points about a culture where privacy is being steadily eroded (although it doesn't make these points in such a heavy handed manner that it overshadows the drama). Tighter in focus than the more sprawling Saga, Vaughan’s knack for characterization really shines through, and Martin’s artwork (with sparkling colour assist from Muntsa Vicente) is a beautiful, brilliant example of a creator at the peak of his powers. Halfway through this issue there’s an astonishing wordless sequence that displays just how emotionally and dramatically potent the medium can be. Whether this pay-as-much-as-you-want-directly-to-the-creators format will catch on in a big way is questionable (it didn’t after Radiohead tried it several years back in the music industry) but it’s made enough of an impact to suggest that it's shaken things up one way or another. However that pans out, what’s clear now is that The Private Eye has been a phenomenal comic, easily one of the best books on the market in recent times, and that no matter what Messers Vaughan and Martin may say, I want a physical copy to stick on my bookshelf in the very near future! 10/10

PACKS OF THE LOWCOUNTRY #1
Writer: John Dudley
Art: Don Cardenas & Kelly Fitzpatrick

Kenny J: The small glimpse of the otherworldly creatures at the very beginning of POTLC never really leaves you. This is both a blessing and a curse for this book. As one reads through the coming together of the team, all with their secrets and shady pasts, you're constantly waiting in anticipation for what horrors lie ahead  for them. Over the course of this first issue characters' personalities are well established and group dynamics formed, mostly through the prism of Bastion, who is probably the least interesting member of the rag tag bunch. This is a good introduction to the world and the things that inhabit it. With its survivalist overtones this could almost be a Lovecraftian The Walking Dead - something I'm surprised doesn't exist already. 7/10

THE OCTOBER GIRL #3
Writer: Matthew Dow Smith
Art: Matthew Dow Smith

Matt C: It’s been a long time coming (over two years and counting!) and while I’d be hard pressed to say it was worth that kind of wait, as a continuation of what transpired in the preceding two chapters, it doesn’t disappoint. (And yes, you’d be best served reading those preceding two chapters before diving into this one!) The reappearance of 18 year-old Autumn Ackerman’s imaginary childhood friend Barnaby seems to have reopened her eyes to things that exist beyond the shadows, and she approaches this with the standard teenage mix of ‘whatever’ and ‘OMG’. There’s a burgeoning demographic in comics that this series would appeal directly to, and as long as it doesn’t scupper itself with further delays, it’s good enough to tap into that demographic (and beyond) if it regains its momentum. 7/10

MATTY’S ROCKET #1
Writer: Tim Fielder
Art: Tim Fielder

Kenny J: I straight up love this comic. It's inventive without being flashy. It's subtly political without being preachy. And the art is fantastic. I especially like the use of highly rendered backgrounds and almost cartoony characters. This allows every panel to have depth while letting the emotion of said characters (especially Matty herself) shine through without making the page feel cluttered. This is combined with minimal dialogue that has no extraneous fat on it and where it does pepper the art it is done so to great effect. The silent movie style dialogue panels are a perfect example of this, giving the scenes set in France an instant romanticised feel, drawn directly from memories of so many classic movies. It also makes for a speedy read, rocketing along as fast as Matty's eponymous jet - maybe this is due to its origins as a webcomic, but I will just have to buy any future issues of this book to keep up. 9/10

HENCHMEN, INC. #2
Writer: Tim Simmons
Art: Jim McMunn

Matt C: Another delayed issue, but sometimes you have to cut these creator-owned guys some slack as generally their primary source of income is a fulltime job outside comics. Besides, when you get an comic that’s as gleefully witty and entertaining as Henchmen, Inc., who’s complaining? Two-time loser Finch is now getting the hang of being a henchmen-for-hire but being punched by superheroes for a living isn’t making him any smarter and he seems destined to get himself in hot water sooner rather than later. But he’s a likeable guy and you can’t help rooting for him, thanks to the amusing self-deprecation Simmons brings to his internal monologue and the loose energy of McMunn’s illustrations. It may not hit a monthly schedule, but based on the two instalments so far, it’s worth the wait. 8/10

PROPELLER #1
Writer: Ricardo Mo
Art: Alberto Muriel

Kenny J: On the surface this book may seem like it's dealing with the same subject matter as Monkeybrain's Anti-Hero, which wrapped last year. The similarities are slight though. Where the latter had super-powered beings crashing about, Propeller starts in this same manner using a fantastically illustrated silent sequence before swiftly switching up into a neat little psychological thriller. In fact, the unlikable Rex doesn't use his powers again beyond this opener, instead opting to explore his relationship with his passive aggressive best friend, Hud, through a number of lengthy conversations. The dialogue here is very well written and truly feels like old friends bickering, a luxury Hud doesn't allow his wife, so when the duo do inevitably part their repartee is missed. It also seems that the mystery antagonist set up through the initial pages is revealed far too quickly. Hopefully this will be explained in the future and no doubt there will be more action from both the Rex and Hud and the other power types in further issues but the end of this one needed a something extra. That said, this is a great opening chapter that sets up interesting characters and an intriguing premise. 7/10

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