Friday, March 28, 2014

Comic Book Issue Note: Viscera

Nathan Massengill,Viscera: Epic Frail. Bad Damsel Media, 2014. (Link to the comic's website).

This is a bit different than my usual booknotes as it is reviewing a single comic issue. It was available via NetGalley as an electronic review copy. Rather than going through the plot, I will give the book's description as NetGalley provides it:

"As the owner of the paranormal nightclub 'RingRunners' and Ambassador to the Post-Life Nation of Ghosts, Viscera stays busy. She doesn't need men or sex. She doesn't want any trouble either, but trouble tracks her down. Viscera is a fugitive. She fled from an ancient and secretive woman-hating subculture ruled entirely by immortal men. These are ruthless and extremely powerful men, hunters who will not tolerate her escape from their control. In the past, she was content to run and hide, cowering at shadows and sounds in the night. But that was before she became 'Viscera.' Viscera refuses to run. For mysterious reasons known only to herself, Viscera makes a stand and a very public statement. Wearing a provocatively sexy ensemble and running what might be the wildest - and most frightening - nightclub on the planet (where humans can "party" with the dead)...Viscera truly knows how to make a point. She will fight - and kill - for the right to be her own person."

That all sounds very good and exciting in theory. In practice, this indie comic reads more like a piece of performance art or a draft than a full piece; I understand this is the first issue, but still, it just seemed rushed. The layout did not help things neither. It starts with image panels as a comic, then the narrative breaks into this big chunk of text. I was not sure if this comic "wants to be" a comic or a novel.  The story itself in the image panels is pretty minimal. This is a very visual piece with very minimal text on the image panels. The art is black and white, and it could be reminiscent of some of works by Tim Burton (and I do mean that in a good way). The main issue I had with the comic overall is that it seems a bit more concerned with preaching an apparent feminist agenda than actually telling the story. Yes, I find neat and cool that Viscera is a strong and independent woman who will be tamed by no man. I happen to like stories of strong women, which my readers can see from previous reviews of works such as Red Sonja. But throughout the story there is this constant tone of preaching the agenda rather than telling the story. As the old saying goes, show more, tell less. I wanted to like this one (I did like the minimalist art), but in the end, it was mostly OK. It was nice, but not memorable. It was a quick read that in the end left me asking if that was all there was.

In the end, 1 out of 5 stars.

If you wish to learn more, the author has a website as well:

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