We’ve got another review on the table!
This week, we have Silver #4, coming up from Dark Planet Comics. It looks like everything was done by creator Stephan Franck: writing, art, greyscale, lettering. There is no editor, and that hurts this book.
Again, the book will be rated on the Prince-scale. (I love me some Prince.) Adore means “buy this book,” Beautiful Strange is “take it or leave it,” and When Doves Cry is “don’t waste your time.”
Now, with the rules set, let’s take a look and see what we have!
First, the story: It’s 1931, and a team of people are looking to separate Dracula from a treasure, following a journal left by Jonathan Harker.
Just a quick history lesson: Dracula is a book published in 1897, and it’s basically a collection of journals that tell the adventure/story of Dracula. So, we’re talking about 34 years between that time and this. Got all that? Good.
So, the bulk of this adventure takes place on a train. The good guys are looking for Dracula’s castle, and they’re following vampires in order to find the place. Those vampires are on the train, and they are being invited there by another vampire. The goal of this issue: get invited to the party by picking the pocket of the vampire tasked with handing out the invitations, altering one of the invitations, and putting it back.
Like I said before, the lack of an editor hurts this book, in more ways than one. Let’s start with the art.
The art itself is very solid. There are only a couple of times when I didn’t really understand what was going on, but that’s generally okay. I didn’t mind that so much. I was more offended by the anachronisms than occasionally dubious art. The biggest anachronism is the use of portable radio headphones. It’s 1931. They aren’t that portable as yet. It bothered me a little. But the art is very, very serviceable, which is something that should be expected from an artist who worked on the animated movies The Iron Giant and Despicable Me.
The next thing is the writing. Some of the problem is that this is the fourth issue, and we still have unnecessary exposition going on. The other problem is that this also sounds extremely modern.
I watch a lot of movies. Let me rephrase. I watch a lot of old movies. TCM is my friend. None of the characters sound like they’re in the timeframe of the story, and most of them sound like they’re the same person. The only time an individual voice was heard was when one character read a review of their acting abilities. Other than that, they all sound the same. That includes the villains.
Another thing about the dialogue is that there are too many stressors used. Sometimes, there are multiple stressors on multiple groups of words in multiple captions/balloons on the same page. It’s too much.
Then there’s the lettering. Lettering has to do two things: it has to relate information without calling attention to itself, and it has to lead the eye across the page.
The lettering here calls too much attention to itself for a few reasons.
The first is too many stressors. Because of the stressors, it brings attention to the fact that there are sometimes a crossbar I where there shouldn’t be one, and then it jumps out that these crossbar I’s are peppered throughout the comic. (Crossbar I’s should generally only be used for the personal pronoun I, with only a couple caveats. Having one as the first word in a sentence isn’t one of those caveats.)
There’s also a problem with punctuation. Some of the balloons end, but there’s no ending punctuation at the end of some of the sentences. I generally eviscerate writers for not learning simple punctuation. However, giving here’s me giving the benefit of the doubt: it may not be a punctuation problem, but a problem with the lettering itself. The balloons may have been broken incorrectly, forcing incorrect punctuation.
It also seems like there are a few different font sizes used here. It just doesn’t seem like there’s any consistency when you read it.
There are also times when the balloons don’t lead the eye correctly, forcing the reader out of the story a bit.
Finally, the book is has greyscale to it, softening the starkness that true black and white can have. It works. I have no complaints at all about the greyscale.
Again, this book doesn’t have an editor. A competent editor would have helped him differentiate the voices, stopped some of the anachronisms, definitely helped with the lettering and dialogue, and helped with some of the story.
This book was up for a Russ Manning award, which is an award for new artists. I can see that. I liked the art. But everything else was sloppy. Very sloppy.
Final verdict: When Doves Cry.