Category Archives: Webcomics

Review: Aztec Empire #2

Aztec Empire #2

As a fan of historical dramas, one of my favorite shows, though short-lived, was The Borgias. It lasted for three seasons on Showtime and was more than ambitious. The show blended family drama and history in a beautiful way that would give way to later dramas like Game Of Thrones. The historical research done on the show was phenomenal and at times disturbingly true.

The show would get into the behind the scenes drama between the Pope and the enemies he had within the Vatican but also talked about how much the present state of the Vatican owes him. His forward-thinking strengthened the Church’s financial wealth by creating a bank and installing its own security force. What grabbed me about the show is the military genius his sons showed throughout. They were the shadows turning the tables in his favor. In the second issue of Aztec Empire, we find our heroes in the midst of a battle with strange Spanish invaders who are out for blood and revenge.

We find the Aztec warriors battling the Spanish invaders who have reached their shores, as Captain Cortes uses military tactics to gain an advantage in this battle. This is where he unleashes cannons, which has the native combatants off balance and looking to even the odds. As Cortes army has taken the Aztec city, he claims it for King Charles, and for Spain, leaving the Mayan commander defeated in his retreat, knowing the capital has never fell until now. By issue’s end, the Maya commander regroups, adds three more regiments to his battle force and looking to outmaneuver Cortes, as his forces are in disarray.

Overall, an excellent second episode that shows how progress can sometimes outwit the best of us. The story by Paul Guinan is engaging and well developed. The art by David Hahn is beautiful. Altogether, a story that only gets better, showing a complex story where colonization is more than what the history books reveal.

Story: Paul Guinan Art: David Hahn
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: For Molly Chapters 1 & 2

For Molly

When it comes to animals, there’s something very instinctual about dogs. They can sense when their owner is not in a good mood and can also sense danger. In the most recent season of Jack Ryan, one of the early episode’s most pivotal characters has a dog. This family friend was used as a plot device and ultimately the hero of the scene.

The scene drove the point that dogs are not like most pets. They truly become parts of the family. Their sense of loyalty is unwavering and their intuition is almost off the charts. Many stories throughout the years have highlighted this deep bond but few have used it in the action-adventure setting. In the first chapters of For Molly, we finally get one such tale of a man and the dog who is more than meets the eye.

We meet Molly, a stray dog who’s running from someone or something, even she doesn’t know. We also meet Greg, a recent divorcee, who is lamenting in his recent failure at marriage, something that depresses him endlessly.  Everything changes for both of them when an assassin tries to kill Greg but escapes with the help of Molly, who he finds out can talk.

As Greg and Molly get to know each other, the more Greg discovers about what has been going on and why this knowledge of talking dogs has been hidden from the known world and how Molly became an outcast to her pack.

Overall, a story that is both introspective and imaginative, as Gabe Cheng proves to be a master worldbuilder in this first two chapters. The story by Cheng is innovative, intellectual, and engaging. The art by Benjamin Sawyer is engrossing. Altogether, a story that understands the need for the reader to like and empathize with their protagonists.

Story: Gabe Cheng Art: Benjamin Sawyer
Story: 9.9 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Oni to Publish an All-New Edition of Chris Onstad’s Achewood

Oni Press adds one of the most celebrated webcomics to its catalog of print collections of online comics and creators from around the world, with the announcement of an all-new omnibus series of Chris Onstad’s Achewood!

The New York Times Bestselling comic returns to print in this massive new omnibus series, collecting the complete comics from start to finish! Volume 1 includes the first 600+ strips in chronological order, alongside a wealth of rare additional material including recipes, short-fiction, maps, posters, never-before reprinted comics, and much more! Edited by Toronto Comic Art Festival founder Christopher Butcher, this gorgeous new hardcover collection features an all new Achewood short story by series creator Chris Onstad, and a foreword by The Magicians author Lev Grossman.

Tremendously influential and darkly hilarious, Achewood quickly and expertly subverts the genre expectations of the daily strip with razor sharp with and deeply human explorations of depression, relationships, masculinity, death, and selling your soul to the devil to become a billionaire. 

Achewood will be released in an all-new omnibus format in June 2020, with future volumes and special editions to be announced in the coming months.

Achewood

Webcomic Kamikaze Kickstarts to Animation

Kamikaze

Moving Ink Media, the creative company behind the award-winning webcomic Kamikaze launched a Kickstarter to fund their animated pilot entitled Kamikaze: Embrace the Fire based on their main character Markesha Nin. Moving Ink is also publishing the Kamikaze: Short Circuits anthology, with 4 new stories found in the same universe and featuring a diverse roster of incredibly talented guest artists and writers. The month-long campaign has a goal of $27K to fund the completion of both projects and are almost half to their goal as of this article!

Created by husband and wife team Carrie and Alan Tupper, and the talented illustrator/designer Havana Nguyen, Kamikaze is set in a future dystopia where natural resources are scarce and what food there is controlled by corrupt factions. Markesha is a teenager who lost her mother and is caring for her blind father, making ends meet as a courier. When a routine delivery turns deadly, Markesha finds herself caught between warring factions. Now she’s an agent for the resistance organization that saved her and her secret identity “Kamikaze,” becomes a symbol of hope for her people.

The Florida based animation company Echo Bridge Pictures, led by animation director Esteban Valdez, is bringing the world of Kamikaze to life. The animated pilot will feature the voice talents of Dani Chambers (SSS.GRIDMAN, One Piece) as “Markesha Nin”, Monica Rial (Dragon Ball, gen:Lock,My Hero Academia) as her tech assist “Audrey Dalma” and Johnathan Young, Youtube famous for his genre music covers, as Markesha’s enemy “Toro Blackthorne”.

The Short Circuits anthology will feature a cadre of talented writers and artists including Robert K. Jeffrey (Green Lantern/DC Comics), Sceritz (Scorpio), Dan Jolley (Dr. Strange Marvel; G.I. Joe/Image Comics), Takeia Marie (Simone Visits the Museum), Malissa White from Comics Creators Club and more!

Review: Aztec Empire #1

Aztec Empire #1

As Columbus Day just passed, we’re reminded of the atrocities he brought with him. The facts of his exploits have been muddied by a fantasy of America being discovered by a man who wanted to explore the world and then he found America. The truth is America was not found in 1492 but at least 15,000 years prior, when the Clovis peoples crossed. They’re who most indigenous peoples across the Americas were direct descendants of.

A good number of people now call this very holiday, Indigenous Peoples Day. Not only due to Columbus’ atrocities but also for what it led other explorers to do against the native peoples who inhabited these lands, they supposedly discovered. The history of each of these native peoples are rich and immensely powerful. In the debut issue of Aztec Empire, we get the history of one of the world’s most epic kingdoms.

We are taken to 1519 in Tenochtitlan, the hub of Mexica Triple Alliance, and the royal capital, where a messenger is hurrying to the palace to deliver an urgent message. He looks for the Master Of Darts, Tepehua, who is convening a meeting with Motelhuih, Speaker Of Words, and Atlixca, Cutter Of Men, all military commanders of the alliance.   The royal messenger delivers the message of the arrival of outsiders looking to gain the trust of the people of Cozumel, news that they wait to deliver to the Great Speaker. We also meet Gonzalo, a man enslaved by the Aztecs for eight years, but has assimilated to Aztec culture, whose brother sent a message to Spain about their enslavement. This leads to an expedition ordered by the governor of Cuba, Diego Velazquez, under the command of Hernando Cortes, Gonzalo Sandoval, and Alonzo Avila, to plunder the land and the free the enslaved Spaniards. We meet King Tabscoob, who readies his people for war against the Spaniards, who looks to convert the Mayan people to Christianity. By the issue’s end, the Alliance jolts their battle against the Spaniards by land and sea.

Overall, an exciting debut issue which both entertains and educates the reader, showing how history is told by more than one point of view. The story by Paul Guinan is exciting and well researched. The art by David Hahn is breathtaking. Altogether, a story that feels contemporary and will also give readers a feel of Allan Quartermain, but from the indigenous perspective.

Story: Paul Guinan Art: David Hahn
Story: 10 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.8 Recommendation: Buy

Instagram Webcomic The Mrs. Frollein Collection: Small Hours Comes to Oni

Throw on your sweats and get comfy on the couch! Branching out from its devoted Instagram following, the Mrs. Frollein webcomic creator Valérie Minelli and Oni Press are pleased to announce that the internationally adored comic is coming to print for the first time in February 2020 as The Mrs Frollein Collection: Small Hours.

The tremendously popular Mrs. Frollein comics have been stirring emotion in people all over the world with heartfelt and earnest strips making fun of the mundane. These perfectly poignant webcomics find inspiration in the everyday, encompassing rainy coffee mornings, playful relationship adventures, and quiet introspective moments— the small, unexpected minutes that quilt life together.

In addition to many of the most recent fan-favorite Mrs. Frollein strips, Small Hours also includes thirty all-new, never before released comics as well as a foreword from fellow web-comic luminaries, Jonathan Kunz and Elizabeth Pich of ‘War and Peas’. Mrs. Frollein began in 2016 on Instagram and continues to be updated regularly three years later with 417k followers. The Mrs. Frollein Collection: Small Hours will be available online and in stores on February 18, 2020.

The Mrs. Frollein Collection: Small Hours

Legendary Comics and Webtoon Announce the Return of Acursian

Acursian

Legendary Comics and the Webtoon hit series Acursian starring John Barrowman returns with the first weekly chapter leading up to the anticipated conclusion of Season One, now available exclusively at Webtoon. The series, rooted in Celtic lore, is a unique fusion of mythic storytelling from co-creators John Barrowman, Carole Barrowman, and Erika Lewis, with art by Beni Lobel and designs by Tommy Lee Edwards.

In Acursian, Charlie Stewart, the man who had it all, falls victim to an ancient Celtic curse. Every decision he makes, every relationship he has, every choice he’s given is doomed to fail spectacularly, and sometimes comically, no matter what he does. Embarking on a quest for the truth behind the supernatural forces re-writing his destiny, Charlie discovers that his ancestor Bonnie Prince Charlie made a deal with the ruthless Celtic God of War, Bregon, and his Three Sisters have cursed the family line. After losing everything he holds dear, Charlie, along with his best friend Nate, continue to hunt for the talismans that will restore his reality, all the while encountering familiar faces along the way. Real life and ancient legend collide in unexpected ways as Charlie battles across this world and opens realms of time and mystery that no mortal was ever meant to see.

Acursian

Terrible Twos: Altar of Pine & Disorder

Sometimes you can’t help but notice that there are similarities between stories. I always find this pretty spectacular because it shows how certain themes and aesthetics can be simultaneously universal and idiosyncratic. Even when they come from separate genres this is true, and those genres themselves could share similarities as well. That is why for this review, I want to talk about not one but two webcomics: Altar of Pine by Cayde and Disorder by Erika Price. One is a historical dark fantasy tale, the other is arthouse horror. One gets its art style from watercolor expressionism and medieval woodcuts, the other is a black and white demon crossbreed between H.R. Giger and heavy metal album covers. And yet, both series are about identity, depression, anxiety, queerness, and a search for a deeper meaning to life beyond struggle. 

Altar of Pine

Created by Cayde

Altar of Pine

In a colonial New England town, there lives a poor fisherman by the name of Alexander. He is lonely, doesn’t connect with his community, and is in debt to the miserly Montgomery. Not even Alexander’s only friend Pritchett is much of a friend. Alexander prefers to get lost at sea and not have to think about life, a certain freedom within nothingness. On one of his expeditions, Alexander is capsized and washes ashore on a seemingly abandoned island. Except for the cabin with strange potions…the totems made from skulls…and the spirits within. 

Altar of Pine is based on heavy research into history and witchcraft. The latter of which series creator Cayde is a practitioner of. Yes, unlike most cases where your mom is wrong about comics, this particular book will teach you the dark arts. If that is not your jam, I suggest you go read a Chick tract. 

The witchcraft hits early when you first go into the comic’s main website and, BAM!, there’s a very polite Satan warning you that there is explicit content in the series. Thanks, Satan! 

Altar of Pine

The coloring in Altar of Pine is done with watercolors. This approach has taken some ground in indie and non-Big Two comics as an alternative to the polished look of digital coloring. For many artists watercolor can give comics a softer, more traditional look. It’s also great for creating surreal and experimental designs. The artists participating in this movement are diverse, from mainstream icon Dustin Nguyen to cult superstar Niina Salmelin. 

Altar of Pine

Cayde’s technique is more subdued than these contemporaries. The first chapter of Altar of Pine focuses heavily upon the sea. The application of blue is grainish and ghostly. It invokes deep feelings of melancholy, the same feeling written all over Alexander’s face. 

This approach, using color to reflect the character’s mental state, is used later in a scene of Alexander’s town. The color choice is a yellow to symbolize the concentration of human life that exists within the village. Traditionally, that would invoke feelings of warmth and security. Alexander, however, feels fear, pain, and isolation as Montgomery and his men ransack his home, and no one lifts a finger to defend him. After the confrontation, a three-panel page shows a three-step transition from the yellow of the village to the green of the forest and, finally, the blue of the sea. 

In each panel, the colors and the feelings they invoke become more melancholy in nature. Yet Alexander’s emotional state improves as illustrated by this image. 

Altar of Pine

Watercolor becomes increasingly experimental when Alexander arrives on the mysterious island. The application of a singular shade in previous pages is replaced with a cabin scene with multiple colors. Not only does it look like how it would in real life, but there is also a feeling of peace and balance. After applying a suspicious green cream to himself, Alexander enters a realm where everything is cloudy and spooky, an unknown territory where anything could happen. The ultimate purpose of watercolor in Altar of Pine is empathy. The reader is meant to feel the same whirlwind of emotions that Alexander is feeling. 

Color also adds to character design. No one in Altar of Pine is a perfectly chiselled superhero or baby-smooth waifu. Nothing against the supes and waifus of the world. Most are middle-aged people with skin issues, gray hairs, and always some kind of belly fat. These characters live in a rough time period and eat some dank-ass food that Gordon Ramsey would need days to spice up. They aren’t exactly going to be in Vogue is what I’m saying. 

Aside from looking realistic, the characters drawn in Altar of Pine‘s grimey fashion also better express their emotions. Whatever they feel, it always gets reflected by the watercolor scheme around them. Sometimes it is an intentional effect, other times it’s a natural occurrence that just seems to fit. It is not trying too hard to make a point of being symbolic. Everything is just so naturally in-sync to the tone of the story that it does not need any extra effort. 

Grimey melancholy might not sound like the best emotion, but I think it makes sense to the story. Alexander is in a crappy position, and his only relief right now is to be alone. This might be when his depression intensifies, but it also might be helpful in unconventional ways.

Altar of Pine

I am not a mental health professional, but I do suffer from anxiety and depression. I have for some time now. Because I’m introverted, being around people exacerbates my downward spiral. When I walk alone though, along the streets, by the side of the sea or deep in the forest, I experience relief unlike any other. My mind clears and I regain a sense of purpose. I don’t want to die, I want to live and marvel at the treasures of the world. Ironically enough, loneliness is the key to recovery.

This is just my own interpretation, but I feel Alexander suffers similar episodes of anxiety and depression. It’s symbolized from the time as he escapes town on a boat to washing up on the shore of the island. As he struggles and makes new discoveries, I can’t help but be reminded by the same feelings I go through during those dark times. While Alexander’s return to the town does not conclude with elation, his desire to tell of his journey shows that, ironically, alienation pulls him out of the depths of despair. 

That’s as far as I can analyze the story. Partly because I don’t want to give too much away but also we are not that far into it. There are only three completed chapters so far, and Alexander has only begun to discover the mysteries of the island. There isn’t much to analyze or discuss from such an insignificant chunk of story. However, it’s enough to keep me reading, and perhaps for those who enjoy a dark fantasy about healing mixed with wonderful watercolor art. 

Disorder

Created by Erika Price

Capture 6

Where do I even begin talking about this comic? The simple answer is that I can’t because there is so much complexity to it, anything I say will be merely a scratch at the surface. The series’ website describes it as a “series of dark and surreal short horror comics, created as art therapy.” Boy, this must be some therapy because the stuff that goes down in Disorder would make Clive Barker, H.P. Lovecraft, Kathe Koje, Junji Ito, David Cronenberg, and honestly any other dark creative drop dead from feelings of inadequacy. 

There are no traditional plots in Disorder. It reads like a series of vivid nightmares accompanied by cryptic narrations and surreal images. Each involves an entity of some sort as it endures pain, dread, and a never-ending struggle for self-actualization. The true greatness of the series is how, in both writing and art, it never fails to be simultaneously unique and signature to Price’s ouvre, and touching upon themes that are universal and esoteric. 

Capture 7

In Issue #1, the cover displays many key characteristics of the art style: Black and white, heavily detailed lineart, unique patterns, and alien bodies. The story of this particular issue involves ginormous humanoid entities constructed out of cities. Concrete, glass, wires, steel, plaster, skyscrapers, railings, and asphalt twist and bend to shape these behemoths into being. As a result, it causes them great pain, at least that’s what I’m able to deduce. Interestingly, there are onlookers who walk toward the city and become citizens, as though the grotesque terraformation hypnotizes them. The layout for each page consists of large panels, some of them splashes, to fit in as much detail as possible. The effect is a sense of the grand scale of this humanoid city.

The other four chapters have similar stories of humanoids and the pain they experience. While the style remains the same, creator Erika Price varies in themes and execution. In particular, the panel layouts get into some delightful mischief. A good number of them are standard, albeit pushing the boundaries of those standards. Some are straight out trippy, such as in issue #3.

Capture 8

This issue has heavy organic aesthetics to it, many of the life forms consisting of reptilian, amphibian, and fish qualities. Panels are constructed out of shapes resembling air bubbles and cellular patterns. The entire chapter is quite chaotic much like the biosphere it represents, and yet it all makes a visual sense to the cryptic narrative being told. 

In every one of the chapters, recurring themes of pain, alienation, and subjugation are presented in fresh ways while maintaining running visual characteristics unique to Erika Price’s style. With just a few short comics, she has already proven to be an auteur in terms of figuring out a brand and ethos. This is something that even the greatest artists in history took up to decades figuring out. Hell, double so in comics where, in the past, editorial mandates and trends held back a lot of highly talented artists. Free in the wild west landscape of webcomics, Price does whatever the hell she likes and distinguishes herself in the process.

As much as I have talked about the universal themes in Disorder, there are esoteric themes at work too. Mental illness is a big one. I get a serious sense of depression and anxiety from the comic; those are illnesses I can relate to, so in a way they are still universal even if Price is presenting them esoterically.

One theme that I think is much more esoteric is bodily dysphoria, a feeling of being trapped inside a body that’s wrong. This might be particularly personal for Price given she is a trans woman. Although I am not transgender myself, so I don’t really know what that experience is like. I don’t want to step in and explain an experience I don’t have, so I will avoid going in any deeper. I will just say I wouldn’t be surprised if gender dysphoria is a theme here. If I did offend in any way, I apologize.

That said, the theme of body dysphoria can encompass more than just gender; after all, the two can relate to each other but are still different categories. Diverse people can experience body dysphoria if they feel like something is fundamentally wrong with their body. I’m going to speak from my own experience as someone who experiences this issue because of my weight. Since I am so preoccupied with it, my other issues of depression and anxiety multiply. I repeatedly feel like I’m trapped inside a gross body full of negative emotions, and it can be suffocating. Erika Price visually captures this feeling perfectly with how the humanoid entities twist and bend and break and mutant in excruciating ways. She has captured with the pure existential id of this state. 

Erika Price also captures the pure id of Horror. Now, it might seem presumptuous to attach Disorder to a genre when its storytelling methods defy all traditional notions of narrative, but visually speaking it is pure Horror. Disorder looks horrifying. It is horrifying to read. It perfectly encapsulates everything about the genre and the various forms of media and genres under the tent, from the slimy practical effects of David Cronenberg to the gothic landscapes of black metal. It can’t be denied how Disorder is Horror in its purest essence. 

Capture 8

Given how much I’ve described the series, it’s still not enough. Disorder is the most abstract, complex, and challenging comic I have yet read. I’m barely able to comprehend it still given I have only read through the series once. I feel like my analysis is just scratching the surface and that smarter critics could dig deeper and find more layers to thoroughly discuss. Simultaneously, I think I’m underselling this comic by merely trying to describe it. Much like Lifemahcine’s Weaker Sides, this is a comic to read and experience more than to analyze. I hope to go back, reread the comic, and relive the experience of the first go round so that my understanding of this peculiar series increases. 

Altar of Pine and Disorder are both unique works of art, radically different in their styles and approaches to storytelling but similarly about mental illness, introspection, and a search for self. There is beauty in these comics’ darkness, one as strange and infinite as the entities of older, darker realms. If you’re looking for dark horror and fantasy stories that will challenge you to explore dangerous worlds and uncomfortable thoughts, then I can’t recommend reading both series enough.   

Art: 10 Story: 10
Recommendation: Buy, er well read ’cause these are webcomics

Check out Cayde’s Patreon
Check out Erika’s Disorder

Catians: Resurrection – Review

“When the Great Cat departed this world a thousand years ago, it left behind Relics, which grant divine powers to their users. Cats have safeguarded the Relics for millennia, until a desperate cat revives the ancient magic to save his human friend—giving rise to a blood-thirsty monster with the penultimate Relic. Worried that the disappearance of humans could mean the end of treats and back rubs, the cats of the world must choose three people, so-called Guardians, to find and protect the most powerful Relic. In return, the chosen three gain command of the elements and the ability to take feline form. But unbeknownst to the cats and their appointed heroes, other forces have been watching the Relics, too…”

–From the official Catians website
Catians: Resurrection

Catians: Resurrection
Art: Luyi Bennett
Script: Cortney Cameron

Catians: Resurrection is a prologue to the epic, ambitious urban fantasy series. Cats seek human champions to fight antagonistic forces. In this chapter, alley cat Felix tries to make a champion out of Rose, a human he has grown fond of due to her continuous acts of kindness toward him and other strays. One night, a group of mobsters murder Rose’s husband and leave her for dead. Felix saves Rose’s life by granting her powers from a mystical cat tail, one of the relics of the Great Cat. Rose may take her revenge on the mobsters in exchange for taking on the role of champion. Unfortunately for them both, there may be consequences.

Reading Catians: Resurrection was an interesting experience. Judging by the cover, I thought I knew what waited for me. Reading through, I pretty much thought I knew how things were going to go down. Boy, was I wrong.

We begin with narration from Felix over a splash image of a rose, symbolizing the actual main character named Rose. Felix’s affection is so strong, he swears to protect her. If that sounds like a rather benign reason for intense devotion, do keep in mind that Felix, despite his intelligence and articulation, is still a cat. Nothing will ever win over a cat’s loyalty quite like regular servings of Kibble.

Catians: Resurrection-image 1

The design of the rose, the font of the lettering, and the sheer emotion in Felix’s narration has a mythic romanticism to it. It’s the kind of aesthetic I’ve witnessed in works by writers such as Vera Nazarian and Howard Pyle. It’s also that emotional intensity you get from various fantasy adventure mangas like Sailor Moon, Dragonball, etc.

Speaking of manga, the character designs are highly influenced by the medium. You have the large eyes, simplified structures and so on. Backgrounds are also simplified with buildings and rooms having no distinguishable qualities. They mostly serve to highlight the presence of characters and their relative distance from each other. If this sounds like a nice way of saying the art is generic, let me make it clear that’s not the case. While certain elements of the art are “on brand”, just as many go an extra mile.

Catians: Resurrection-image 2.jpg

The coloring is digital. I assume it is because of the flawless quality that’s quite common to the technology. I sometimes have a negative response to digital coloring because of its generic application in many mainstream superhero comics. In the case of Catians, it’s very soft and easy to look at instead of being an overly bright sheen. It also lends itself nicely to “emotional coloring.” I’m sure there’s a better term for it, but what I’m referring to is the way colors can be applied to invoke a certain feeling within the reader as opposed to generic realism.

Catians: Resurrection-image 3

This page is simplistic, but it really illustrates what I’m getting at. The descending transformation of the color from red to black gives a deep, uneasy feel of a situation going from bad to worse. And yet there are the golden cat paws. These accompanied with Felix’s narration create a nice counterbalance. Without showing so much, it gives the reader a feeling of hope even as hopelessness seems overwhelming. The artist, Luyi B., achieves this effect through simple means. It shows that you don’t need Van Gogh levels of skills to make coloring interesting, you just have to put in an honest effort.

There is also some seriously great lighting going on, such as this scene:

Catians: Resurrection-image 4

Another quality of the art that sticks out is the panel layouts. Sticking yet again to manga influences, certain pages include that trick where smaller, jagged panels are deployed for intense scenes. The panels zoom in on faces and other body parts, and are accompanied by speed lines to make it more dramatic. I don’t really have insight into why this is such a good artistic decision. It just looks freaking cool!

One thing that did seem odd was how the cats appeared more realistic than the humans.

Catians: Resurrection-image 5

Their hair and faces are more defined and detailed than the humans’. The only explanation for why could be their mythical nature. Perhaps having an uncanny contrast between the two serves the story on a thematic level.

Now that I’ve mentioned it, time to go into the story side of Catians: Resurrection. This is honestly both the most interesting and infuriating part for me. The plot is very straightforward, but with certain twists and turns. Rose is on a revenge quest against mobsters who killed her husband. Basic Punisher stuff. But then comes the cat angle which is more complicated than you would think.

The cats have a central god figure, The Great Cat, who wants them and humanity to live in harmony. To achieve this, The Great Cat sometimes grants certain humans relics, which must be given to them by a feline aid. When Rose gets her tail, some of the things she does with it include creating a tombstone, turning into a cat humanoid, and even making a person. Yeah, I have no idea how it works. It is not specified to how many relics there are, what exactly they do, or any limits to the power they wield. That seems to be info that will be brought up later in the series.

If all I described makes Catians sound like a mad plot, boy do you have no idea until you read it for yourself. All the crazy ideas going on in writer Cortney Cameron’s head are machine-gunned out through plot beats that waste no time with subtlety. There are plot holes like a moon crater, characters not as well-defined as they can be, and yet the sheer mania of it all crackles with delightful, enthusiastic creativity. It reminds me of the 60s-era Marvel comics such as The Incredible Hulk #1 where he goes from stalking a U.S. military base as a Frankenstein-esque monstrosity to being zipped away in a high-tech jet to the USSR and escaping via From Russia With Love meets the proverbial bull in a china shop.

Such nuttiness might be too much for certain readers, but it’s arguably what makes comics such a fun medium. Only in comics can you compact so many ideas into one go-round. It’s all a matter of making it as visually compelling as possible while maintaining a certain kind of narrative pace. If you got both down, you can go crazy. Catians: Resurrection achieves this balance perfectly.

Until the ending. Most of the story up to this point is a combination of urban fantasy, superhero origin story, and revenge thriller that goes together very well. The ending, however, is a bizarre cross between David Cronenberg and H.P. Lovecraft. It suddenly stops being Rose’s story and gears toward the mythology behind the cats and their larger conflict with yet to be named antagonistic force. At least that’s what I can remember. I might just be experiencing whiplash and need to reread the comic, but something about it just seems off.

It might be that while Catians is a crazy train narrative, it felt like there was still a track it stuck to. Now, it feels like the train has jumped off into a completely new track. It’s still an interesting one, I will admit. I’m gripped enough by the cat mythology in order to give future entries a chance. But, Rose’s arc seems to have been unceremoniously ditched. On the other hand, there is a strong implication that Rose could come back, so this may not be the case.

Only time will tell. The story is still in its infancy, and there is no telling where it will go from here. Waiting to see is both thrilling and trepidatious.

Catians: Resurrection is not soaring to new heights of comic literature, but it knows the kind of story it wants to tell and does so with immense creativity and beautiful art. The only issue is the twist ending, which is up to the reader to decide how to feel about. If whacko, action-packed stories with fascinating mythologies is your thing, go check it out. If nothing else, it has drawings of cats in it. Those are always a win no matter what!

The comic
Luyi Bennett
Cortney Cameron

BOOM! Studios Teams with Tapas to Bring New Heavy Vinyl from Carly Usdin and Nina Vakueva for the Mobile Experience

BOOM! Studios is teaming up with Tapas Media to bring bit-sized stories to you. Together, BOOM! Studios and Tapas will create a unique print and digital partnership around one of BOOM! Studios’ most popular original series, Heavy Vinyl.

Heavy Vinyl: Riot on the Radio, written by Carly Usdin and with art by Nina Vakueva, was originally published in print by BOOM! Studios in 2017 and amassed a global following. With this partnership, Tapas Media is teaming up with BOOM! to adapt Heavy Vinyl to a scrolling, mobile-friendly experience. Tapas will publish the mobile formatted version of Heavy Vinyl and introduce the series to a digital-native audience. Heavy Vinyl: Riot on the Radio will be available via Tapas through their website and mobile apps available for both iOS and Android, and Tapas Media will debut the new Heavy Vinyl original graphic novel exclusively on their digital platform prior to its physical release.

Tapas Media is a leader in webcomics with 50,000 creators from all over the world and 60,000 original titles published to date. They’ve published one million unique episodes and over 4 billion views.

« Older Entries