Norse Legend Meets Mecha

Posted on November 28th, 2008 by Delos Woodruff in Delos, comics, four stars

My initial read was a little confusing. There were odd names, people dressed in furs and mecha all in one big bucket. It evened out for me when I made the connection to Norse mythology. If you aren’t familiar with it, the basic story is that people fight giants but they all die in the end. It’s very tragic. Usually the people are good and the giants bad but this is switched in Edenworld and the story is told from the giant’s perspective.

The Norns are the people at war with the giants, otherwise known as the Jotun. They dress in furry viking style and are armed with hand weapons that have high tech built in. In the first chapter, there seems to be a knife that is able to easily cut into one of the Jotun’s armor and even burns a bit. Mostly, I saw spears but they had all kinds of tech tricks to draw upon.

The Jotun are long lived giant mechs complete with their own high tech gizmos. They look to be at least twenty feet tall and they seem to be mostly machine. In true Viking style, the Jotun raid the Norns for their supplies, including much needed fine metal ores not available anywhere else. The Jotun have tried to avoid injuring the Norn and they’ve tried to sneak around to (more or less) keep the fragile peace.

The story starts off with a Jotun raid and continues with a rescue operation. We see both sides trying to pick up the pieces. The Norns hatch a daring sort of raid of their own and it mostly succeeds, putting the Jotun in a bad place. Then a new sinister threat to both the Norns and Jotun emerges and there is great personal cost to pay by the time you read up to the present.

The art is top notch with great character (and creature) design. It looks like pencil with photoshop tones all used to good effect. In particular, the tones are used to direct your eye toward and highlight the most important part of each panel. The viewing angles and layouts have nice variety. An interesting choice was having very thin gutters.

I also dug the little details and well drawn bits even though some of the lines can be faint or carry a slight sketch look to them. The city downshots really have the sci-fi vibe and the pencils carry just the right amount of detail. Here’s an example of not too much detail. It took me a second to figure out what the object is and it adds something very meaningful to the story. You’ll need to read the story to fully grasp the significance, sorry.

While the action scenes during the spring 2008 run were hard to follow and some of the word balloon placements were a little distracting, I would still have given Edenworld five stars. However, it was difficult to understand what was going on in the comic (in general) without reading every scrap of information on the website and it had the occasional curse word. Aside from these nitpicks, I give Edenworld four stars.Rating: ★★★★☆

Edenworld Saga
http://www.edenworldsaga.com
art and story by Chris Crontiris
edited by Jason Lanum
review by Delos
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 5 out of 5)

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Note: Being that this is my last review for Comic Fencing, I just wanted to say thanks for reading.

Gods and Monsters

Posted on November 28th, 2008 by Crackwalker in Crackwalker, four stars

The Great Edenworld Itself

“The robot is going to lose. Not by much. But when the final score is tallied, flesh and blood is going to beat the damn monster.” -Adam Smith

Rating: ★★★★½

This week’s review is Edenworld Saga by Chris Crontiris, and edited by Jason Lanum. What’s a webcomic doing with an editor? I dunno. I suspect that in this case he helps with grammar and such. That’s a guess - I looked around on the site and couldn’t find any bios on the creative team. I’m very interested to know more about these people. Why am I interested? Because this thing rocks.

I have to mention something up front; I love giant robots. A lot. But just because I like the robots doesn’t mean Edenworld gets a free pass. Quite the contrary. There’s nothing that bugs me quite the same way as a badly done mecha story, simply because I want them to be good, and if they fall short of the mark I am more disappointed than I would normally be.

But gladly, this is not the case with Edenworld Saga. I was not disappointed - I was thrilled. The designs are brilliant, and the artwork is outstanding. The story is rich and detailed. Is this in print? The quality is there. If it’s not in print yet, someone should give these guys a call. It would be right at home next to any manga book out there.

I don’t claim to be a manga expert or anything. I own a lot of stuff by Masamune Shirow, some Miyazaki and I have a few of the Battle Angel Alita books. I tend to avoid manga online because the stories are usually very slow-paced with long story arcs and involved characters and relationships - not that that’s a bad thing, but it’s a big investment of time. I don’t want to try and get my head around a bunch of convoluted backstory and whatnot only to find out that I don’t like where the story is going for whatever reason. So I was a bit hesitant when I took my first look at Edenworld. It looks a bit Voltron to me, a bit Transformers, a bit Gundam. So it could have gone either way. There’s lots of people out there that are inspired by these properties, and not all of them are up to the task. I was not overly happy with some of the Transformers comics that have come out over the years. But I digress.

The backstory of this epic (and it is an epic, in the manga tradition) is modeled on Norse mythology. People familiar with terms like Yggdrasil, Norns and Jotun will recognize the hierarchy Crontiris has set up in this world. The robots are sentient creatures, who live in a state of animosity with their human neighbors as well as terrible dragons who wreak havoc on their settlement of Jotunheim. This is a world that seems like a fantasy world, but the magic and miracles have an underlying logic of highly advanced science. I could go into detail about this world, but it would make for a very long review. Suffice it to say that it feels very well thought-out, and as far as I’ve read, it doesn’t break its own rules (which is the cardinal sin of fantasy writing).

The backstory and plot don’t dominate the script. It’s all about the characters. These robots have familial bonds. There is a love story between Lyron (one of the gigantic Jotun) and Panchun (a human) which is very interesting to watch play out, since they are so different from each other. Some of the Jotun are brothers, and the fierce scrapper Beowulf is very protective of his little brother Ennesix. These robots have very distinct personalities, which is the key that allows the reader to be drawn in to the drama.

The only reason I gave Edenworld 4.5 stars instead of 5 was the art. While it is beautifully designed, the linework and shading is often a bit vague, leaving many panels a bit indistinct and difficult to interpret. I got the sense that the artist would like to eventually colour the art, but the story is shortchanged in the meantime. Stronger linework to clarify characters from backgrounds and denser shading would really help make this work in black and white.

So to sum up, I know manga isn’t for everyone. If you don’t like Robotech or Gundam or Voltron or Appleseed or Nausicaa, then you won’t like Edenworld Saga either. It is definitely is in the same league.

Crackwalker

‘Edenworld Saga’
by Chris Crontiris
reviewed by Crackwalker
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5 out of 5)

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Tights, Flights and Fights

Posted on November 25th, 2008 by Anthony Cardno in Anthony, comics, three stars

One of the things I think can consistently be said about the webcomics world (as well as television, movie, novel, short story, print comics … well, you get the point) is that it is hard to be stunningly original. A particular art-style breaks ground and suddenly every new comic features that style; amongst writers dark-and-gritty becomes de riguer until noble and heroic takes over; a new fantasy series takes the world by storm and suddenly every protagonist is a teen wizard, or a vampire, or both.

Sometimes, it’s okay to be a part of the pack, put your own personal spin on a set of characters or a setting, and just plug away contentedly. Be consistent enough, and you build a fan base. I think that’s what Bongoteez does with Superteam, hosted on the Drunk Duck web comics network.

The art is nice and simple: essentially stick-figures with capes. Just enough detail to tell one from another. For a parody strip about super-heroes, the simplicity works.

The jokes are mostly retreads – nothing incredibly original here. Early on, we get a standard Aquaman joke (anyone ever notice that Marvel also has a water-based King of Altantis character, but whenever a joke about a lame aquatic hero is needed, it’s the more recognizable DC character who gets the nod?). In the second storyline, after the introduction of the sidekicks, we get a standard joke about why kid sidekicks actually matter to adult heroes.

I didn’t find myself laughing out loud, but as an avowed super-team fan of long standing (I’ve been part of the Super-Team Amateur Press Alliance aka STAPA, for over twenty years now), I did find myself chuckling and nodding my head at having written stories like the ones presented here.

I’m giving Superteam 3.5 stars. It’s steady, reliable, consistent … nothing amazing but certainly not horrible. Rating: ★★★½☆

Bongoteez’ Amazing Superteam
Reviewed by Anthony R. Cardno
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)

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To end November

Posted on November 24th, 2008 by Moderator in Uncategorized

The comic under scrutiny is Edenworld Saga and we’d like to hear what you think, too.

Moderator’s note:

I will also take this opportunity to announce that I am resigning my position as Moderator here at Comic Fencing effective after this comic’s reviews. It’s been fun but due to my ever changing personal schedule, I really have not been able to give this site the support I’ve wanted to and that it deserves. Even creating my own comic has fallen by the side and that’s something I want to make the time to get back to. It’s a good time to hand the reins over see what a new Moderator can do.

Finally, I’d like to thank each of you who have visited this site. I appreciate the encouragement and kind words we’ve received from you, along with the great suggestions for comics to review. I wish the new Moderator well and I will remain an avid reader of and commenter on the reviews posted here.

Best regards,

Delos

Amazing Superteam

Posted on November 21st, 2008 by Delos Woodruff in Delos, comics, five stars

Some might think that comics with stick figures must be one dimensional in terms of the art, writing and stories. After all, all of it must match the art, right? The backgrounds need to be empty of detail and everything must be kept simple simple simple. That’s just what you’d expect from a stick figure comic.

Not always. Haven’t we all seen lavishly drafted comics with no real story to hold them together? Aren’t they a bit disappointing? Isn’t this a lot of questions? (That last one was just to see if you’re paying attention.)

My first impression of Amazing Superteam is Lego Star Wars meets Challenge of the Superfriends. It’s pretty rockin’. The humor and basic storylines do match the art and the writing is very clever. They have the kinds of conversations and do the kinds of things that comic fans crack jokes about. I found it hilarious. Of course, I’m not sure I would follow it from week to week and enjoy it as much because I like some bigger chunks of story development in each update. For me, Superteam is a good comic to check back in on every few weeks.

If you’re a comic lover like I am, you can see all the cast on the characters page and they are obviously knock offs on some well known superheroes. Specifically, I think they are well done knock offs.

If you fancy yourself an artist, go ahead and draw a few popular superheroes from DC or Marvel as stick figures. Okay, you probably have some guys with capes but after you do more than a few of them they all begin to look the same. Now try to draw Aquaman or Lex Luthor and then compare yours to the Superteam version. Not as easy as it might seem to make them each unique and recognizable, is it? The point is that even though it looks simple, drawing fun stick figure characters isn’t easy. Give the stick figures some props.

That said, Amazing Superteam is full of cliche hero plots and it is meant to be that way. You will not find stories that are groundbreaking works full of emotion. This comic is a witty parody of all those fun things we enjoy about superhero comics. The storytelling style and the art go hand in hand, complementing each other nicely. What gives it a zing is the subtle twinges in the writing and the snappy dialog.

This is one of the best stick figure and superhero parody comics available, so it gets five stars as an excellent example of its kind(s) of comic. Rating: ★★★★★

Superteam
http://www.drunkduck.com/Amazing_Superteam/index.php?p=243422
by Bongotezz
review by Delos
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 3 out of 5)

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You’ll think Friday’s review is just super…

Posted on November 17th, 2008 by Moderator in Uncategorized