April 11, 2011

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Action Double Feature #1

Written by Tim Seeley and Dennis Hopeless
Illustrated by Sophie Campbell and Mike Norton
Four Star Studios (Self-published)

Once upon a time, characters used to share books together, having shorter stories but allowing for greater exposure. Four Star Studios is using that old idea in this new series, available only online for the Ipad or in PDF form. My review is based on the latter formatting.

First up is the figure in Red, Jack Kraken. He's a man who's been modified, taking on cases others can't handle in a world that features creatures unlike any we've come to expect in the world. With high tech features, he should be ready for just about anything, but he can help make peace in this diverse world when he's not entirely sold on the concept? Meanwhile, the punctuation-faced Answer! fights a mysterious group of villainous vixens while trying to keep his identity safe on a simple tourist yacht. Just what kind of answers is he seeking, anyway?

As with any first issue, especially a shorter one like this, there are more questions than answers established. We don't know much about the world in either case, and rather than give a set origin story, both Seeley and Hopeless have opted to drop the reader into the middle of the action and hope it's compelling enough to stick around.

It definitely is, though I'd give the edge to Kraken.

While the Answer! is a neat play on Ditko's Question, there's not a lot going on that makes this one stand out from any other adventure story, at least so far. The Answer! could be just about any high-budget action hero, though I'm sure Hopeless has plans to make him more complex. I'd have liked more exposition from this one than we got, and I think if it were on its own, I'd be less interested. I'm okay with giving it a little time to develop, and you should be, too.

Kraken on the other hand hooked me immediately. I'm curious why he's been modified, I'm curious as to the inter-species dynamics of the world, and I want to see what other horrors he'll have to face in future issues. He's got the start of a strong, sarcastic personality as well, and at least the hint of a supporting cast. Seeley mentions this character has been decades in the making, and I think it shows in the depth we're already getting from the first glimpse of the character.

Kraken is also the stronger half of the book artistically, with Campbell keeping the lines loose and curved but allowing us to understand all of the action. Nelson's art is okay, but right now, perhaps limited by the script, it doesn't jump off the page the way that Campbell's does (although there is one neat perspective trick during a fight scene).

Kraken is worth the 99 cents an issue, so if the Answer! storyline picks up, this will just be an even better value. I'm in for another issue, at least, assuming I can keep an eye out for this monthly. I do wish the PDF version flowed better, as viewing it was a bit awkward. After using Comixology's brilliant app, it's easy to get spoiled when reading other comics online.

One of the great things about online comics is they give creators a chance to share their work inexpensively, allowing us (the readers and reviewers) a chance to try new things. Give this one a shot and see what you think. My guess is you'll be in for another feature.