Comic Review: Downcast, Vol. 2: Wrize & Fall

Published: 2020
Written by: Clint Stoker
Art by: Ignacio Lazaro, Damian Penalba, Kelsey Shannon (cover)

Sweet Comics, 56 Pages

Review:

I’m actually glad that I got the two graphic novels for Downcast at the same time, as it helped me retain the plot details due to not waiting months between the volumes.

Although, I still shouldn’t have slept on this when the first one came out because I like the series a lot.

This one concludes the story but I hope that Clint Stoker and the same creative team eventually get back together to tell us another tale in this universe.

This picks up where the first one left off and it resolves all the issues that our heroes were faced with.

Ultimately, they are in over their heads due to stumbling on a unique power courtesy of a MacGuffin. I don’t want to spoil it because I’d rather people read this. Using that MacGuffin, they try to free their father who was imprisoned by a fascist government. All the while, they piss off that government and find themselves on the run while still trying to complete their difficult objective.

The story maintained its quality and the satisfying ending makes this volume a little bit better, overall.

As with the first one, I also really dug the art style and the look of the book.

If you’re still able to get this, you should definitely give it a shot.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: its predecessor, as well as other crowdfunded indie comics.

Comic Review: PANdemIC

Published: October, 2020
Written by: Richard C. Meyer
Art by: Renzo Rodriguez, Jason Johnson (cover)

Splatto Comics, 24 Pages

Review:

I was surprised to see this show up in my mailbox the other day, as I wasn’t aware that it had started shipping and because I hadn’t seen a dozen other people on Twitter posting pictures of it. Usually, others start getting their crowdfunded comics a week or two before mine show up.

I jumped into this pretty quickly, though, and it was an entertaining, quick read that did the job it set out to do while laying the foundation for a bigger story and some other tie-ins that I’m now excited for.

Initially, I wasn’t sure how this would go, as it is the first comic I’ve gotten from Richard C. Meyer (a.k.a. Ya Boi Zack) that wasn’t a Jawbreakers or Iron Sights title. It’s very different from the work he usually does but it still has the energy he’s known for and wastes no time getting to the point and throwing us into the action and excitement.

First and foremost, even though I barely know this character, I like her. That’s a far cry from what’s the norm in comics lately but Meyer did a superb job in establishing who she is, even if, right now, it’s just on a minute level due to this being a one-shot the size of a standard floppy comic book.

This is also tied to what is going on in the world right now with the COVID-19 pandemic but this doesn’t get political and just sort of exists in current year. Sure, it shows that there is some sort of conspiracy afoot and that this will lead to bigger things in the future but it’s lack of trying to take some sort of partisan stance is refreshing, especially in a year where one can’t escape the narrative spin of everything going on in 2020.

Beyond the story, the art is really good. I was impressed by Renzo Rodriguez’s work and since I’m currently looking for an artist to work on a comic book I’ve written, he’s now a guy that’s on my list.

Overall, this was a worthwhile purchase and it has me pretty stoked for what’s to come. It’s short, sweet, badass and most importantly, fun.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other comics by Richard C. Meyer, specifically those that will be tied to this story.

Comic Review: Downcast, Vol. 1

Published: 2019
Written by: Clint Stoker
Art by: Ignacio Lazaro, Damian Penalba

Sweet Comics, 56 Pages

Review:

I didn’t back this on its first campaign but after hearing others talk about how much they liked it, I backed the campaign for the second volume and bought the perk were I got both books.

So this review is specifically about the first book, which is the first half of a two-part story.

Out of all the Comicsgate related releases that I’ve read and reviewed, this sits towards the top of the heap as one of my favorites.

Initially, I wasn’t sold on the concept but seeing it come together and play out left me really impressed with Clint Stoker’s ability to tell a fun, passionate and energetic story.

Most importantly, in just 56 pages, he made you care about the core characters, their lives and the terrible situation that they find themselves in. I think that a lot of this has to do with how well Stoker wrote their dialogue and created their chemistry, which felt natural and as if it came from a genuine place.

These are things that are lacking in modern comics, as comics today are more focused on their political and social agendas than they are entertaining their readers.

Additionally, this also does a good job of world building and setting up the bigger picture beyond just the simple story that’s at the core of the book. I’m not sure if Stoker has plans for more stories (and I don’t yet know how this one ends) but I’d like to see him explore this world more.

Also, the art is very good and it fit the vibe of the story well.

In the end, I’m glad that I gave this a shot and I’ll probably back Stoker’s other projects in the future. I’ll review the second half of this story arc in the very near future.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: its sequel, as well as other crowdfunded indie comics.

Comic Review: Brand, Vol. 1

Published: July, 2020
Written by: Antonio Brice
Art by: Caanan White

Ikari Press, 52 Pages

Review:

I backed this comic on Indiegogo quite awhile ago and it was a campaign that took a long time to fulfill. But as these things go, as long as I get my comic and I enjoy it, no harm is done.

This definitely impressed me and it exceeded my expectations. I honestly didn’t know much about it but I backed it because Anotnio Brice, the creator, seemed like an alright dude and I really dug the artwork by Caanan White.

This comic looks fucking stunning and it was well worth the wait.

Additionally, the story was interesting, I felt like I got invested in these characters and in the end, I want to see where this goes.

There are a lot of different avenues and characters that the plot introduces and it packs in a lot for just 52 pages. It’s a good mix of the sci-fi superhero genre, as well as crime thrillers and fantastical adventures.

I’m not sure where this could go but it kept my attention and left me wanting more.

The story isn’t self-contained and this is a setup for the next chapter. However, based off of this, I’ll probably back the second volume.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other recent comics by Comicsgate or other successfully crowdfunded indie creators.

Comic Review: Super Harem, Vol. 1

Published: June, 2020
Written by: Matt Wenger
Art by: John Joseph Ball, Farah Nurmaliza

48 Pages

Review:

I backed this because it’s creator seemed like a cool enough guy. Additionally, the premise was intriguing and I wanted to see how the story panned out.

The plot is about a guy who gives superpowers to any woman he has sex with. His former girlfriend became a hero and found herself protecting their city from giant, kaiju-sized monsters. After discovering that her superpowers worked as a lure to attract these monsters, she left the city and her super sperm boyfriend behind.

As the comic starts, the guy gets drunk and has a one night stand that ends with a new girl also getting powers. This obviously creates some issues and things start to quickly spiral out of control.

Like many crowdfunded books, as of late, the story isn’t complete by the end of this volume. It will be continued in a future release.

That’s fine and I was glad to back this, especially since it exceeded the expectations I had for it. My experience with crowdfunded comics has been a really mixed bag. The really bad stuff I haven’t reviewed because I’m not into kicking small creators just trying to ply their trade. 

Wenger impressed, though, and this was a fun, energetic book with solid art, good writing and a well-executed original idea.

I’ll probably back the followup because I’d like to see what happens next. And frankly, repeat business is how you succeed at crowdfunding comics because it means that your project resonated with its audience.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other recent comics by Comicsgate or other successfully crowdfunded indie creators.

Comic Review: USAssassin, Book I: Old Habits…

Published: June, 2020
Written by: Mark Poulton
Art by: Mike McMahon

Haunted Pizza, 80 Pages

Review:

I probably wouldn’t have backed this on Indiegogo but after getting a copy for free with Graveyard Shift: Volume II and digging the hell out of it, I’ll most likely back the followup volume.

In fact, I enjoyed this more than Mark Poulton’s Graveyard Shift comics, as it channels the same sort of vibe as the two most recent runs on DC Comics’ Deathstroke, which have been some of my favorite comic book titles of the last five-to-ten years.

With the inclusion of the elite soldier squad that turn out to be bad guys, this also had notes of Suicide Squad, which just worked for me. I guess in some sense, it felt like the team we’re introduced to is like a fucked up G.I. Joe where the main character isn’t willing to cross a certain line and thus, draws the ire of his team and its leader.

This was a quick but awesome read and the 80 pages just flew by. I liked the story, I got invested in this new character and I’m optimistic about where this could be headed in the future.

Additionally, I really liked Mike McMahon’s art and this felt like a top notch comic book akin to the better DC Comics titles of the last few years.

This had cool characters, cool character design, a simple but solid story and it’s just my cup of tea.

I already want a refill.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Mark Poulton’s Graveyard Shift, as well as the modern runs on Deathstroke, Suicide Squad and Red Hood and the Outlaws.

Comic Review: Adam Post’s College of the Dead 2: Graduation Day

Published: June, 2020
Written by: Stefan Petrucha
Art by: Javier Aranda

Adam Post Media Group, 48 Pages

Review:

I just recently read and reviewed the first College of the Dead. I got both volumes at the same time, so I didn’t want to wait too long before jumping into this one.

To start, I like it better than the first. Also, this one is colored and the color work is pretty good. It gives the book a lot of life even though I kind of like black and white horror comics.

I felt more engaged by this story as well. It has some layers to it and it explores some things within the main character’s personal life while the zombie apocalypse is happening all around him.

I don’t want to get into too many plot details and spoil them, I’d rather people just pick this up and give it a shot, assuming you can still find copies.

My only real complaint about the book is one of the complaints I had about the first one.

Both of these volumes only tell the story in simple landscape panels. However, where the first book gave you two panels per page, this one gives you six. From page-to-page, it’s just dull to look at and the book should just be more dynamic, visually.

Maybe this is just the personal choice of the writer or the artist. Or maybe the artist is limited by what they can do and can only draw in this format. Regardless, I’d like to see them experiment more with the layout. And like with the previous book, there seems to be a lot of wasted space with the large margins.

In the end, though, this was an entertaining comic book that served up some solid escapism and that’s what I want my comics to be: an escape from the bullshit of the world outside.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: its predecessor and other indie zombie comics of the modern era.

Comic Review: Graveyard Shift, Volume II

Published: June, 2020
Written by: Mark Poulton
Art by: Jon Malin, Anthony George

Haunted Pizza, 48 Pages

Review:

It’s been awhile since the first Graveyard Shift came out but these crowdfunded comics take time.

While I mostly liked the original, I was expecting more out of this one, after the setup. However, I also wasn’t expecting this to be the end of the story, as I know more volumes are planned.

However, this is the end of this story arc, which in totality, comprises about the length of four regular floppy comic book issues.

That being said, while I also enjoyed this one, the plot felt a bit rushed, as I don’t feel like we really got to know these characters well enough in the limited time we had. Add in all the action and cool stuff and the story just didn’t have enough room to breathe and properly develop.

I think that it needs more balance between developing the characters, especially this early, and the big action sequences.

Granted, I would like to read more of these and get to know these characters better. And I hope that they are explored more in the future.

Apart from the story, which I don’t want to spoil for those who haven’t read it yet, I thought that the art was a bit of a step up. Jon Malin didn’t deviate from his style but it feels more polished and refined, here. I’m not sure if he spent a little more time on this volume or if he’s just improved since last year’s release.

Ultimately, this was a fun, great looking read. It’s not my favorite series out of the crowdfunded stuff I’ve supported over the last few years but I would put it in the upper echelon. 

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: other recent Comicsgate books like Richard C. Meyer’s Jawbreakers, which Malin also worked on.

Comic Review: Monster Hunt – One-Shot

Published: June, 2020
Written by: Mike S. Miller
Art by: Mike S. Miller. J. Nanjan Jamberi
Based on: Jawbreakers by Richard C. Meyer, Graveyard Shift by Mark Poulton, Jon Malin

Blacklist Universe, 24 Pages

Review:

I never really wanted to back the original Lonestar comic, as Mike S. Miller rubbed me the wrong way. Eventually, I relented and backed it after hearing his sob story and because it was pushed pretty heavily by Ethan Van Sciver on his YouTube show, Comic Artist Pro Secrets.

I was fairly surprised by it though and I gave it a pretty positive review. I wasn’t 100 percent sure if I’d back the second volume but I did want to back this project, as it was a crossover one-shot featuring characters from different creators within the Comicsgate circle. Well, that is until Mike S. Miller had his forty-third emotional meltdown and left the group because his grapes were sour and his neighbor had kumquats he needed to steal.

You get what you pay for, though, and I knew that this was a soulless cash grab where Mike wanted to ride on the coattails of his peers with more success. I only bought it because it used characters from these other creators. It also took an ungodly amount of time for this to reach my mailbox.

The final result, is a comic that looks good but falls flat and underwhelms. It doesn’t really add anything to any of the franchises it mashes up. It only added pity dollars and swindle duckets to Mike’s bank account.

I wanted to see beyond the disingenuous shuckster that ran this campaign and I wanted this to be as cool as my initial feelings back when Image and Valiant came out with the Deathmate crossover in the early ’90s. This ended up being more of a disappointment than that one though, as it really just throws these characters together, kind of aimlessly, sees them fight a bunch of monsters and then abruptly ends.

In all fairness, I think Mike was limited in how he could use these characters, as they’re all in their own series doing their own thing and this couldn’t really explore them as characters.

Honestly, this just felt kind of weird and sloppily thrown together. Yes, the art is really good and it’s some of the best I’ve seen from Miller but it quickly became obvious that this was what I feared it would be and that’s just a cash grab, piggyback project by a dishonest opportunist.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: the other comics featuring Lonestar, the Jawbreakers and characters from Graveyard Shift.

Comic Review: Adam Post’s College of the Dead

Published: 2019
Written by: Stefan Petrucha
Art by: Javier Aranda

Adam Post Media Group, 140 Pages

Review:

I backed this on Indiegogo a few months back and I was glad to finally get it in my hands, even if I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The story is about a zombie outbreak that sees some college students have to try and band together to fight off the invasion.

Overall, the story was fun and action packed.

It’s pretty straightforward, although it does have some twists that happen and the ending is pretty good and really ups the ante in regards to the overall story and where this could possibly go with a future tale.

Side note: I do have the sequel, as well, and will probably review it in the very near future.

This comic is pretty thick and it’s presented in black and white, so drawing comparisons to The Walking Dead is just natural. However, this doesn’t try to replicate that more famous franchise. It does its own thing, tells its own kind of story and from a narrative standpoint, it delivers.

My only real gripe is the format of the book, which just gives you two large landscape panels per page. Each panel is the same size and the book also has pretty large margins. Page after page, the layout is becomes boring and it takes away from the overall book, as it needed to be more dynamic in presentation.

Additionally, in regards to the art, there were some photographic images used for some of the backgrounds and other things like trees. I’m not sure if that was done for budgetary reasons or to get this out quicker. It’s nothing that breaks the book or looks all that out of place but it is something that I feel like I should mention.

Still, I enjoyed College of the Dead for the most part and I’m happy to read the followup and review that one as well.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: its sequel and other indie zombie comics of the modern era.