The ComiQuad: Elric the Animal Doctor

Boom! Wham! Pow! The ComiQuad is a column dedicated to the spandex-laden world of comics and superheroes. It goes up each Tuesday and will alternate between comic book reviews and other comic book news. Reviews shall try to be spoiler-free. Zam!

Doctor Who Classics Series IV #1 (Advance Review)

A cast like that sure would make for a great show! | Cover courtesy of IDW Publishing.

Here’s some information that may jeopardize my very health as I know it. I have never been exposed to any Doctor Who media aside from raving Facebook statuses and Twitter tweets. Take this review from the point of view of someone who knows nothing of Doctor Who.

Additionally, these stories were not recently written; they are a collection of stories from some of the 1986 issues of Doctor Who Magazine now published by IDW Publishing. The major changes include coloring and the editing required to combine the stories.

Overall, the story was strangely new-reader accessible. Once I got accustomed to a talking Penguin named Frobisher and figured out exactly what a TARDIS was, the rest of the story moved smoothly without much confusion.

In terms of writing, it wavers between moments of strength and 80s campy predictability. In a sense, I imagine that is where Doctor Who‘s strength lies. In between pages of deep gravitas regarding the displacement of peasants due to the threat of “progress,” there are corny lines like “He’s mad! Like a hatter!”

The art style, considering the time period, does a pretty good job. It occasionally features a heavy use of cross hatching, but it never beats the reader over the head with it. Facial expressions are corny and exaggerated, as they should be. It’s awfully difficult to make a talking penguin/alien subtle.

The modern addition of coloring is definitely one of the comic book’s strengths. Panels featuring the desolate, desert landscape are vivid with oranges and browns, whereas a hidden laboratory emanates calculating coolness with some unemotional blues. Even the characters’ multi-colored outfits give the book some added “umph.”

In terms of overall story, however, the plot is not that interesting or engaging. The most interesting characters go on hiatus shortly through the story, the villain could not instill less fear in the reader, and auxiliary characters throughout the mystery are quite bland.

For Doctor Who fans, this comic series could make for an excellent buy. For the new reader, unless you’re a fan of the talking penguin (as I am), it might be a better decision to turn to the television show.

Review 7/10

Animal Man #6

Blood is not the sign of a good movie. | Cover courtesy of DC Comics.

Of the entire New 52 reboot, the Animal Man series has ascended to be one of the most revered and respected series DC Comics has to offer. That opinion has also been shared by past reviews here at the ComiQuad. The sixth issue offers a break from the manic pace of the current storyline, but does it take a break away from the experience?

Yes and no.

The majority of the issue focuses on Buddy Baker’s short stint as a Hollywood actor between superhero gigs. Fortunately, the story is truly a well-written story. The “movie” art, carried out by guest artist John Paul Leon, carries the emotional drama of a story about an ex-superhero’s failed family life. Travel Foreman resumes art duties for the remaining few pages as the narrative shifts back to reality.

Overall, the story quality is solid. Unfortunately, the entire “movie” feels largely irrelevant to the plot at hand. In a world where comic book stories advance one month at a time for regular payments of $2.99 each, it’s not pragmatic for a fan to not see the story advance. Going two months before the overarching storyline continues feels both like a waste of time and money. There’s no questioning the quality of the art and writing as a standalone issue, but it does feel like a disappointment when the general storyline is so much more interesting than what seems to be a random movie.

The sixth issue may have more consequences down the road, but unfortunately, nothing leads the reader to believe that.

Review: 7/10

Elric #8 (Advance Review)

Don't judge a book by it's cover, especially this comic book with this cover. The interior artwork is much more fascinating. | Cover courtesy of BOOM! Studios

Much like the Doctor Who Classics Series IV, I must confess to not having read of the Elric series. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that I needed to have read anything of it.

I could stare at the book’s art forever. The grandiose designs of the city, the perverted bodies of the Army of Chaos, and the brilliance in coloring turn pages of Elric #8 into gorgeous pieces of art. More often than not, comic books steal aesthetic designs from clearly traditional influences, but the direction taken by artist Francesco Biagini feels relatively unique. His rendering of people can be questionable, but the sheer magnitude of the background art forgives it.

The writing is pretty solid. The overall story is engaging enough to intrigue the reader, but not too complex as to lose the reader. The dialogue has shining moments, and it also has relatively tepid moments. It isn’t stellar, but it’s not enough to warrant any hugely negative criticism.

Overall, the experience is surprisingly pleasant. If the wildly fantastic setting of the story isn’t engaging enough, the engrossing background artwork and coloring sure will be.

Review 8.5/10

About Jon Erik Christianson

Jon Christianson (COM/CAS '14) is the zany, misunderstood cousin of The Quad family. His superpowers include talking at the speed of light, tripping over walls, and defying ComiQuad deadlines with the greatest of ease. His lovely copyeditors don't appreciate that last one. If for some reason you hunger for more of his nonsense, follow him at @HonestlyJon on Twitter or contact him at!

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