194-lets-see-02pg09The other day I received a special package in the mail. My friend Erik asked me to look at the first four issues of his digital comic book and give him some sensor readings on his work. Better than that Erik, prepare for hot review action in the shape of a brutally honest analysis from a guy who thinks Mister Spock is the right way to go.

So, peering into the contents of this watercolor mixed media creation what do we have? A story about a group of mainly academic science types who gain superpowers when they drink the wrong beaker of liquid. From there on out they become a heroic band of do-gooders who work to protect their town from the evil works of various foes.

191-cheers-01pg08Over time, the group expands to include a variety of strange characters who also have superpowers. Some of them maintain the amphibian theme, some don’t. This coincides with an increase in various villainous power centers. Good thing the Amphibimen arrived to counter all the villainy that has arrived!

The creator of this fabulous journey of froggomatic fun has an enthusiasm for the comic books of yore and it shows in every panel of action and unfolding plot. The Ultimate Amphibian, a galactic scale super being moved to act by the exploits of the Amphibimen, is pure old school foreshadowing of the best sort.

192-the-princess-01pg11Comic book culture has reached a point where all the parameters are well known, and most of the stories have been told. Now comes the re-telling, and this is where the energy of most superhero comic work seems to collect its focus towards. Seeing the details in this comic book evolve, as steeped as I am in the culture, it’s a joy to see familiar ideas unfold in new ways from another old school perspective.

The thing that strikes me most is how detailed every character is, and how complex the interactions become as a result. It’s a strong stance, but it also ends up being a weakness overall—the artist hasn’t quite got the skill to pull off such multifarious material yet. He needs to boil it down a little and let the story unfold more. There’s enough material in the four issues I read for for eight issues. It takes a master to get that to work.

195-they-watched-us-03Pg22You see this most in the battle montages and split narratives of the characters. There’s so much going on that encapsulating it becomes overwhelming. There’s a ton of stuff in here, but making it accessible requires more practice.

Despite a huge ensemble group of heroes and heroines I’m not quite sure who the main protagonist is (and I believe one is needed in a dense narrative like this, to act as an anchor), although I’m pretty sure who the main villain is. When the villains are more recognizable than the heroes you need to work on the heroes.

193-hand-clasp-01pg24The artist has what can only be seen as a unique style. This hampers identification with the characters and requires more work from the audience. The characters all have weird eyes and creepy fingers. The background is jarring in its blocky abstraction. The foreground is where the action is. The square dialogue balloons and their placement make the dialogue hard to follow.

Not that I would have the artist change any of that! Weird is good. Different is good. The writing is solid and the comedy subtext is fantastic. THE PRINCESS, good lord what a character! The wordplay is right on. I actually care about the most intelligent rat on earth.

196-who-am-i-03Pg24What I would like to see is more skill and craft in the form, and that can only come with time. Then the personal bridges can emerge as a natural quality in the work and make it more welcoming without losing that special sauce that makes this comic so damn unusually cool.

I’m going to keep my eye on this guy. He has a lot of stuff to say. Frog help us all if he actually manages to complete the recombobulator module actuator and achieve full storyline satisfaction flow.

3 out of 5 Stars of the Magi