June 17, 2011

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Digging Into Digital: Two from 4 Star Studios (Horror DF #1 and Sci-Fi DF #1)

Sci-Fi Double Feature
Written by Josh Emmons and Robbi Rodriguez
Illustrated by Joe Song and Robbi Rodriguez
4 Star Studios

Horror Double Feature
Written by B. Clay Moore and Sean K. Dove
Illustrated by Ryan Browne and Sean K. Dove
4 Star Studios

The folks who created Action Double Feature are back with new stories in two other genres in this digital anthology comics. Trying to bring some of the old magic of superhero-style comics in a new manner, 4 Star Studios presents short stories with all new characters by varied creative teams. It's a great premise, and is only 99 cents an issue, so I am always up for seeing what they have to offer. Moving further away from capes-inspired work, these two issues are even better than their predecessor was, and I enjoyed that one.

First up is the sci-fi issue, featuring a lead story that, like Jeffrey Brown's Incredible Change-Bots, skewers the Transformers in loving (if a bit more heavy-handed) fashion. Our "heroes" are mad because 80s television is denied them, so they come to earth expecting to need to aid fellow robots. About as useful as an 8-track tape at first, these unlikely anachronisms just might save the day. Emmons and Song wrap all of it in a comic framing device that has perfect (if a bit predictable) timing. This story was a lot of fun, if a bit rough around the edges.

The second sci-fi story was a bit harder to get behind the concept. A reality-hopping character apparently steals from other dimensions, but we don't get a lot about what or why. Instead, Rodriguez goes for cool visuals, including some panel manipulation. This one probably needs some time to build. Maybe we'll see more intriguing things in issue two.

Horror Double Feature reaches right into the Kirby-Ditko-Ayers-and Others playbook, bringing us big bad monsters of unusual size and magical incantations to defeat horrors unspeakable. I will admit that of the three 4 Star books, this one is my favorite, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I love the horror genre, especially big old monsters. So basically, they went and made a comic just for me. (Not true, but it would be kinda awesome.)

Moore and Browne set up a pair of monster hunters who work together in an irreverent manner to take down creatures that don't belong in the world of humanity. In this case, it's an oversized orange gargantuan with a slight resemblance to a familiar clobberer who holds a secret that could lead to some very interesting stories. The pacing and action here is perfect for the genre, and I can't wait to read more.

If your taste for horror runs to a more literary bent, Sean K. Dove has a character for you. Evoking Dr. Strange and Ditko's world of the mystical, a young college student in the land of Lovecraft must stave off the horrors of the Elder Gods, who are none too happy about it, while also trying to keep up his social life. Like the Moore story above, I definitely want to see more of Kid Chtulhu, though I wonder if the Lovecraft Estate might have other ideas. There's a lot of appeal in a teen mystic who seems to revel in his powers, so I hope this one continues as well.

Available for both the Ipad and those of us who don't eat at Jobs' Apple via PDF, these Double Feature comics are only 99 cents and pack every bit as much punch as more expensive digital cousins from better-known publishers. Plus, they're yours to keep, if that matters in your purchasing decisions. You can pick them up here, and I highly recommend that you do!