Monday, August 11, 2008

Neozoic #6

One of the problems, it seems to me, with doing high-quality work across the board, is that some of it inevitably won't get the attention it deserves, stuck in the shadows of other great works. That has largely been the case with Red 5's line, I think, as books like Atomic Robo (which really is great) steal a lot of thunder from other great books like Neozoic.

The basic story in Neozoic is that humans and dinosaurs inhabit the planet together. The humans have built themselves a walled city to keep the dinosaurs at bay, and it's been working for a while now, with the added protection of a group of highly skilled warriors called the Predator Defense League, life for the citizenry has been fairly calm. Until Lilli brought home a small Talpid child saved from the jungle, and the dinosaurs tore into the city with a Talpid army not far behind. The city's been plunged into chaos, with many of the PDL captured and others running for their lives.

This is where things pick up in #6. The protagonists have been split up to follow several different, but simultaneous, paths and each is acting in a way to save the city independent of the others and unique to their own situation. This issue itself is probably not a great jumping-on point because it is, frankly, square in the middle of the story. However, writer Paul Ens does do a good job of ensuring that the characters and their relationships are explained within the context of the book. Further, he does this in a surprisingly natural manner that allows the story to flow relatively smoothly. Which is even more impressive considering that several storylines are occurring at this point in the series.

Likewise J. Korim's artwork keeps things moving along well. I think his page layouts are serve the format of the story quite well, and he makes efficient use of the page. His splash pages, in particular, are noteworthy because they convey the expansiveness and/or drama that needs to be shown, but still manage to have several additional panels to keep the story from slowing down. Case in point...
The above page introduces a new character, Roma, with the semi-requisite full body shot splash, but you'll note that there are, in fact, six individual panels on the page. We learn about her role/stature with her immediate group, and start to glean her history and background with Ross. The page isn't there to show off Korim's character design skills or his adeptness at human anatomy, but it serves the story. It's perhaps a little more understated, but it's also more nuanced because of it and showcases Korim's sensibilities.

The story continues apace with the other characters all making some clearly-delineated forward progress towards their respective goals. However, since the issue splits among several storylines, not much time is given to any one character. While I think that serves the overall story well, and will almost certainly read smoothly in TPB form, I think it makes the issue a tad less enticing for the first-time reader.

This issue is scheduled to arrive in stores on August 27. The overall story, as I've said repeatedly, is well done and the couple of weeks until #6's street date should give you enough time to pick up the first five issues to make sure you're up to speed. The book might not have the buzz of, say, Atomic Robo but like all the other Red 5 books I've read, it's worth putting on your pull list.

No comments: