Friday, July 27, 2012

Planetoid Critique

Picked up the second issue of Planetoid this afternoon so today I feel like breaking from my usual 'second-person' writing structure to do a review of the series thus far.

Planetoid is set in the distant future when human corporate imperialism has expanded through out the stars.  The central character is Silas, former soldier turned smuggler who crash lands onto a dead factory planet populated by various tribes of humans struggling to survive amongst giant sadistic robots controlled by a central A.I..  Armed with a survival kit, a hyper-advanced PDA, and a pistol that does super-mega damage to anything he fires it at, Silas has to do whatever he can to survive and hopefully escape the Planetoid.

I have to say I'm fond of this series.  Thus far, me being a fan of industrial-horror-sci-fi like the Terminator and Aliens franchises and the movie Pitch Black, author/artist Ken Garing has done a fair job of keeping those parts of me appeased.  The line art is nice and gritty and is complemented by a rusty-metallic color palette, clearly defining Planetoid's visual language for me.  Doing all the writing, art, and lettering himself, he's sure not to over-render on the inks, instead using color to create the illusion of detail, but still conveying a satisfying amount of expressiveness in his characters ( something I usually require of any cartoonist I read ).  I'm curious to know if he does his line art traditionally with ink on paper or if he does everything digitally as he does the colors, letters and other effects.

The pacing is what I want from a comic like this.  The dialogue is usually only where necessary, with good chunks of the story being told with pure visuals to good effect. However there are places in both these first two issues where the exposition gets a bit heavy handed for my tastes.  In the first issue Silas goes through his "inventory" with his PDA.  Garing does this by illustrating each item with the PDA character naming them respectively.  It just felt out of place for me - like a video game ( though I can see how others might dig it ).  Later when the first human Silas meets tells him the Planetoid's history some of Garing's word/sentencing choices gave the exposition an unnatural feel.  The next issue this unnatural exposition felt worse with the second human Silas meets as she tells him her past.  I guess to me it just felt like he was trying to spoon feed me the info, which I don't care for in story telling unless it's done in a pretty specific and non-cliche way, and he was not hitting the mark for me there.

That leads me to my other major criticism: the second human Silas actually meets ( as opposed to just encounters ) is a slim, attractive female red-head.  It's really just a personal gripe, and I'm kind of torn too, as I have issues with the entertainment industry's standard of every major female character needing to be a hot chic - it's just not that believable for me - and especially now that every time I go into the comic book store over a third of the books feature a hot female red-head on the cover.  But I understand the appeal, especially for a comic book character, and particular in this book where red really stands out amongst the bulk of the appropriately drab color palette - it makes her more interesting and unique ( in the purview of Planetoid, in the comic book industry she's one of dozens of red-headed female leads ).

However, I do like the way Garing illustrates Onica ( the aforementioned red-head ).  She's a survivor living off of alien lizard meat in a harsh environment, so she's slim with taught muscles the way I imagine someone of her body type would be in those circumstances, ( that and she doesn't prance around in high-heeled boots like some fantasy super-model ).

Each issue thus far has been the standard 32-page magazine that most comics come as, however, unlike most monthly titles, these 32 pages are made up entirely of story and art, which is a lot considering that the cover price is still $2.99 when so many other books in the industry seem to be feeling the effects of central-bank induced monetary inflation and increasing their prices accordingly from $3.50 to $3.99 an issue.  I suppose it helps that the production of this comic is a one-man operation, but being that it's a color comic ( and more expensive to print, let alone time consuming to produce ) it's pretty nice of Ken Garing to pass on the savings to the reader. 

With all the pages filled up with story and art, there isn't any space for the artist's comments or letters from the readers ( there's some space on the inside cover but I suppose Garing and the Image folks would rather leave that for other things ), so it isn't apparent whether or not this is an ongoing series or a limited one.  If it's a limited series, I can see how Garing will be able to keep up with a 32 page monthly production schedule, as he probably has everything done and ready to go.  The Image website has preview summaries of the first four issues listed, with the fourth one giving no real indication whether or not it's the final chapter. 

I honestly hope it is ongoing, as it's so far an overall cool series and I have yet to get tired of the "lone stranger in a strange land" storyline, but I'll be surprised and uber impressed if Garing can keep it up at 32 pages a month, though understanding if it drops down to the standard 22-pages we see in most modern monthlies.

No comments:

Post a Comment