Sunday, December 1, 2013
Webcomic to print comic can sometimes be an odd and challenging transition, depending on the purpose of the webcomic in the first place. Victor Santos scored big with Mice Templar and Dark Horse has released a collection of the artist's webcomics series Polar with the hopes of rekindling that magic. What we get instead is...well...not that. Hit the jump to find out what exactly it is that we get from this offering.
Art and Story by Victor Santos
Dark Horse Comics
I really wanted to like this especially after the creativity displayed in Mice Templar by Santos. I could easily see why people would be excited for this especially when you look at the creators bio.
There's a few very significant flaws in this book though. The first one is the tone it tries to take. It tries too hard and ends up coming off like your nephew who wants desperately to hang out with the cool kids. It doesn't even try to fake the confidence and stumbles up self-conscious with characters who we know little about until fifty pages in. Then, when we get a glimpse as to character we care little because there is no depth. I have no reason to care about the "Black Kaiser" or the rest of the cast. The dialogue follows this painful trend and your nephew talks the way he does because of stuff he's watching on T.V. rather than knowing what makes for compelling interaction.
As for the art, again I want desperately to like it and it does have some shining moments. Around page 61 we get a real sense as to what Santos is trying to achieve and it shines brightly. It's sparse and minimal with thin line work which is contrasted by some heavy reds in negative space. Cool stuff and reminiscent of the great Peter Kuper in it's use of symbolism. Unfortunately it isn't consistent and I even had troubles at times making out what was going on in some of the panels.
The story here, or what little of it there is, can be better read in RED by Ellis and Hamner. In fact, I was leaning on that work to get me through the 160 pages of this. I held out optimism that I, as the reader, would find out why the lead was being hunted. By the end of the story he doesn't know and unfortunately neither do we. A good work should be able to stand on its own rather than depending on the tones and styles of previous works by others to fill in the gaps.
This may point to a bigger issue of the transition this work has made from webcomic form to print format. I could see someone really looking forward to the updates and being surprised at each weeks minimal points. As the course roles out and with a really stretched out schedule on a webcomic it makes sense to have a plot that's rather flat and easy to follow. Especially true if you are getting one or two images a week. As a whole dish, unfortunately there's little substance. While you could take your time to enjoy the minimalism of the art I suspect this won't keep you entertained for long, if you even make it to the end.
Verdict - Byrne It. Unless you are a Santos megafan of course. Then you should browse it on the shelf. Actually you could probably get the full effect of this book from such a viewing. As long as your friendly retailer is okay with it.