Saturday, April 29, 2017

Underwinter #2 Review (Image)

What Are You Looking At?

Writer: Ray Fawkes
Artist: Ray Fawkes
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 26, 2017

After the first issue I was left flabbergasted by this book. Not by some tough to grasp story or unintelligible art, but by the response this book had received. Usually when I read other reviews, even if I disagreed, I can usually understand where the other views are coming from. I can usually see a different view on things even if I can’t really see that for myself. With this book, I seem to be completely out on my own and I’m really hoping this second issue can grab me back in.

The short of it is it doesn’t. This issue is somehow even more frustrating and unintelligible than the previous one. I get the gist of what is going on, I get what it’s going for when the art seems confusing, I just don’t think it’s done very effectively.

We start out by jumping from character to character, with an absolutely needed nameplate at the top, as we catch up a short time after the previous issue. With the Master of the estate we learn it is close to the time they require the players, with the ‘players’ we catch up on to them seemingly living large in their own ways with the money their previous gig. We get the idea they love it, but seem to be experiencing some oddities that haven’t quite been fully noticed yet.

In between these cuts from character to character we get some odd imagery. We get flashes of allusions to the monster, it seems a little more birdlike proper than the monster seemed previously, but we also get a bit of stuff that’s a little harder to comprehend. We get what seems like a tree dropping some fruit or seeds, we get flashes of what comes off as bad dreams or visions from the various characters. These images come off as the only actual story telling in the issue. I feel as if we actually get more from these pages of craziness than we do from any part of dialogue until the very end.

By time we get to the actual private concert and the players are blindfolded once again we learn that either the monster or the Maester know that one of the players had peeked in the previous issue. They bring it up as they start to play and we get some allusion to there being poison that is distributed through sight and then we get a krak as the issue comes to an end.

I thought this issue was complete nonsense. The art seems to be a design choice, but it comes off as absolutely unintelligible in most cases with nothing more than bare outlines for humans and large blotches of color for larger objects. The dialogue when with the main character seems like little more than fodder until we get to the actual point which was usually the last dialogue bubble with a small tidbit of what is actually important to the plot. I confess this may be a case of me just not getting this book, but it doesn’t really seem like it’s even trying to get me to understand it. It feels like it’s trying to illicit more of a feeling than an actual story. The art, the light story, the absurdness of it seems to all be going for cognitive response more than an intelligible response. But instead of getting to the end of this issue and wanting to say I’m creeped out, I’m left thinking this is absolute nonsense.

I’m a big fan of media coming across as more of an art form than a delivery system for story. I’ve been a huge fan of film makers like Terrence Malick, Lars von Trier, or even someone like David Lynch. Mulholland Drive is probably my favorite movie of all time. I’m not a stranger to visual storytelling and going for more of an emotional response rather than an intellectual response. This simply does not do that for me, it elicits nothing more than confusion and frustration with minimal blotchy art and little to pointless dialogue.

Bits and Pieces:

Minimal, sometimes leaning toward childish, art makes this attempt at a visceral or emotional story near impossible to get a foothold on the story. I find almost nothing to like here.


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