**Edited 6/22/15- Changed instances of "Umex Rising" to "Lords of the Cosmos" **
I may have let on that I am a bit of a fan of comics. I love the concept of the written word being married to a series of pictures. It's a great method of story-telling, that cuts out a large portion of the reading, and reduces the written story telling to what can be conveyed through dialog, and an occasional block of descriptive narrative. In many cases, this turns the story telling process into a multi-person collaborative process. Oftentimes you have a person that writes the story, the person drawing the story, the person inking the story, the person coloring the story, and finally someone lettering the story. All of these people have to work together and in sync, to create the final product.
I'm attempting a new method for reviews of comics in this... so hopefully things turn out as well as I am hoping. As comics are really a two part medium (art as well as writing) I'm going to attempt to score both parts separately. We'll see how that goes.
Like previous iterations of "Ugli Studios Presents" this is series of stories. Technically there are 4, stories presented here. I will not be addressing the back cover comic, since it appears to be mostly a gag rather than a legit storytelling endeavor.
PART 1: LORDS OF THE COSMOS
ORIGINAL CONCEPT: Jason Lenox. CHARACTERS CREATED BY: Dennis Fallon, Jason Lenox, and Jason Palmatier. WRITING BY: Dennis Fallon and Jason Palmatier. PENCILS BY: Jason Lenox. DIGITAL INKS BY: D.F. Marin. LETTERING BY: Dave Sharpe. EDITING BY: Norman Benford
I suppose it is best to start at the beginning, eh? Enter Lords of the Cosmos. I apologize, I might sound horribly critical of this one, but please bear with me.
Lords of the Cosmos, is a rather interesting endeavor. However, I can not in good conscience call this a story. Traditional story telling must contain, in some fashion, 3 elements. An Exposition, a conflict, and a resolution. It is because of this narrative structure, that I refuse to acknowledge "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" as an actual movie, as it is primarily exposition, with no real conflict resolution, rather it just abruptly ends. Similarly, what we have with Lords of the Cosmos, is exposition, with a hint at a conflict. This is the Pirates of the Caribbean 2 of comics.
This is not a bad thing (Like Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was...). Rather it is an interesting exercise in world building. Rather than telling a story, this comic spends its entire length building a world. Spending several panels establishing locations on the planet Aiden. It introduces characters, and even gives some motivation for those characters. And that is all it does.
It is in the introduction of characters that this comic shines. a huge portion of the pages are dedicated to introducing the villains of this world, and there are a LOT of villains. Some of the villains are truly inspired, others have names that are laugh-out-loud punny ordeals. In the end, this piece is all about the evil. I don't mind that in the least. The world set up in this fragment, seems rather interesting. There is a lot of work set up here, and honestly I'd actually like to see where this could go. This is the type of thing that begs for a full story, and leaves you kind of hoping for more.
SCORES - STORY:7 out of 10 ART: 8.5 out of 10
PART 2: A SONG OF WORDS
STORY BY: Tauriq Moosa. ART BY: Jason Lenox LETTERS BY: Dave Sharpe
Dave Sharpe and Jason Lenox return for another go, and this one looks completely different. The lettering, and art style have changed up completely. Where Lords of the Cosmos, seemed very neat and clean. A Song of Words looks almost dirty by comparison. Clocking in at a mere 2 pages, this feels like a snippet of a much larger story. Where Lords of the Cosmos was all exposition, with only a hint of conflict, this is all conflict, almost completely divorced from the concept of exposition. Something is happening, words are involved, there are books... maybe this is a library. Not sure. Again, this is something I would like to see blown out into a full blown story, and expanded upon. What is this world we are witnessing? What is the reason for this conflict? These are things I am left wondering after reading this.
Stylistically, it looks great, a wonderful window into a world. Perhaps if enough people purchase this, Lords of the Cosmos and A Song of Words can be expanded into full stories. The former, needing a full graphic novel, and this, needing to hit at least 15 pages. Either way, it is an interesting effort.
SCORES - STORY 6.5 out of 10 ART: 8.5 out of 10
PART 3: THE VAULT
WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY: JOSEPH FREISTUHLER
This is where I reveal how horrible of a person I am. Jason was the one that contacted me to write about this anthology, and while I love his art in the first two pieces, this final installment is the meat and potatoes of this anthology. While the initial exposition is mildly lacking, the story as a whole feels most complete. Using a familiar setting like World War II immediately eases some of the exposition elements, since people are familiar with this concept, there is no "world" to build.
The whole thing flows, offering up an interesting story that comes in under 15 pages, and offers an interesting conflict, and the sort of bleak conclusion that a story like this practically demands. If there is an issue I have with this story, it is that it is told as if it was written down in a journal, but it is unclear where this journal writing could have happened. One of the players in this scene is addressing the reader directly, and it includes the phrase "If you are reading this it means that I am long gone." A clear indication that this is supposed to be a written record of some sort...
Ignoring that little hurdle, it is an interesting story, and plays well to my love of the horror genre. Everything meshes well into a nice comic that feels like the foundation to a good horror movie.
SCORES- STORY: 9 out of 10 Art 7.5 out of 10
This issue can be picked up at Jason's online store HERE . If you've got 7 bucks to spare, I'd recommend picking it up.