Time for a review!
This week, it’s Trail #3, by Ben Slabak, with art by Judit Tondora, colors by Marc Sintes, and letters by HDE. There’s no editor listed.
As always, we’re on the Prince song system: Adore means buy it, Beautiful Strange means take it or leave it, and When Doves Cry means don’t buy it.
We got it? Let’s go!
Trail is the story of what seems to be treasure hunters on the trail of Marco Polo as he looks for some sort of wealth. This being the third issue, there are questions to be asked and they are mostly answered. I didn’t feel too lost in reading the book.
I did get a sense of the television show Alias while reading this. Not necessarily the spies and stuff, but the hunting of an ancient artifact from a well-known figure. (Sure, the “well-known figure” in Alias was a complete fabrication, but it was still an enjoyable show. Or was that Jennifer Garner that was enjoyable?)
From a writing standpoint, I like the characterization of the various characters. They had their own feel to them. They were easy, but there were a lot of them. This is a book to be read in that it’s dialogue heavy. There wasn’t a lot of dead space here. Lots of words to read instead of a lot of pictures to fill up the space. If you’re not a “reader”, then this isn’t for you.
I did find the writing to be adequate. I won’t say it was great. It did its job. Maybe a little convoluted at times, but it wasn’t too difficult to follow (which is saying something, because I’m not that smart).
Was I invested in the mystery? Not at all. That doesn’t mean the writing wasn’t adequate. It just didn’t pull me all the way in. Maybe it was too dense as a read without much forward movement. The characters sounded real, but there wasn’t much going on to push the story forward in places.
Judit Tondora was on pencils and inks. Again, an adequate job. I have no problem with her anatomy, but there are some problems with layouts. A lot of dual-stacked panels, meaning you have to really watch which way to read the thing. That’s what happens as you read the book. That’s not the first thing that stands out.
The first thing that stands out is that the characters are stiff. All of the characters seem posed. Expressive, but posed. I don’t get the intimation of movement, not even during a chase scene or when a punch was thrown. The illusion of fluid movement is something that she still has to learn.
The real star of the show, though, are the colors. And I don’t mean that in a good way. The colors here absolutely destroy Judit’s art. Whoever chose this artist chose wrong. The insides should have been done with a lot more finesse instead of the blunt instrument that was used. The colors wash out the detail of Tondora’s art, which is a shame. No, I’m not a fan of the coloring.
The lettering by HDE also has its quirks. Sometimes the balloon tails are blunt, sometimes they’re not. Not all of the tails point towards mouths as they should. The balloons also don’t lead the eye the way they should, but that’s the partially the fault of the artist as well as the writer. (Tondora didn’t always take the words into account, and the writer didn’t always take the location into account when being wordy, forcing the letterer into some less-than-ideal positions.)
In all, this was an okay story. It has potential. It just hasn’t yet reached it with this team.
Final Verdict: Beautiful Strange