Sunday, April 10, 2011

Good O'l Reviews: Nonplayer, Ozma of Oz, Carnage, and more!

Good O'l Reviews are regular long-form reviews that I do in addition to my regular, shorter Reviews in 140.

Nonplayer (#1)
She’s a warrior in the game and a delivery girl in reality, but what life is she really living?

Written by Nate Simpson
Art by Nate Simpson

Video game designer Nate Simpson is the writer and artist of this new miniseries. A one-man show is rare in the comic industry, even more so when it’s a creator’s first ever comic. Pulling double duty, Simpson has his work cut out for him in what at first seems like a frantic foray into a world of high fantasy.

And what a world it is. It would have been easy to first show a bloody action scene, but Simpson starts on a tall green tree twisting its long arms up towards the sky in gorgeous detail. You can count the knots. What follows is an intricately laid out battle scene involving the red-headed heroine, Dana, that throws the reader into a flurry of panels while never treading close to losing focus on the crisp action. A muted color palette combines with numerous dark shadows falling over massive-bodied lizards; the furrowed brow of a grieving soldier; and an endless army marching through a wooded valley.

It turns out Dana is playing in an online video game. She appears apathetic to reality where she has to put up with her mother’s nagging, pop pimples off her chin, and work at a dead-end job. That’s when another twist shows that the world of the game does not have to end when it’s time to clock in.

Simpson could have put his high-caliber artwork into a tried-and-true fantasy adventure, but what he turns out is thoughtful, engaging, and ripe with potential for out-there ideas.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Ozma of Oz (#5)

Fun characters faced with a boring predicament.

Written by Eric Shanower
Art by Skottie Young

It seems odd that great dialog could make for better spectacle than magical items and a treacherous environment, but that proves to be the case as Ozma and the gang continue their journey to find the Nome King, who is holding the royal family in his underground lair.

Young’s ability to create a sense of scale serves him well as the characters travel through chasms within a mountain and come across a sky scraper-sized robot with an equally enormous hammer. The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger are mere ink blots on the bottom of the page. Having such a huge threat presented makes it all the more fun to watch Dorthy and Co. scramble across while avoiding the earth-shaking hammer blows.

This exercise quickly gets old and the issue suffers for it. Not until the Nome King finally makes an appearance does the story up the stakes and offer a real sense of tension. Ozma, a princess, and Dorthy, just a girl from Kansas, provide for each other a great foil, and this issue’s best moments come from seeing how each girl tries to handle a sensitive situation.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Reviews in 140

Carnage (#4) - 6/10
An interesting twist on Carnage is abandoned for what I can only surmise is a chance to make cool action figures.
The Avengers: Children's Crusade (#5) - 7/10
We don't get to really see Magneto vs Doom. We don't get to see Billy and Teddy kiss. What's the point?

Fear Itself (#1) - 7/10
Amazing artwork is a plus, but Odin's rage seems unprovoked, making for a confusing yet mildly interesting start to this major event.


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