Monday, July 3, 2023

Short Reviews Of Short Minis: Storme Smith & Co; S.C.A.R.

I've recently become reunited with a bunch of minicomics meant for review that had been in storage. It's time to hit that backlog with short reviews of short minicomics. 

Nightmare And Sleepy, by Storme Smith and A. Shay Hahn. This is an ashcan/mini of a longer comic from Buño Books, which seems to be interested in doing public-domain superhero comics, among other things. The titular characters are typical Golden Age heroes that appeared in a blizzard of attempts at creating saleable new characters in the early 1940s. In this case, it's a pro wrestler (Nightmare) and his manager (Sleepy), who fight crime in between bouts in the squared circle. This story sees them fight a group of crooks who can turn into "were-armadillos." It's silly and amusing, but Hahn's art is stiff and amateurish. That somewhat mimics a lot of Golden Age comics, which were not always known as bastions of professionalism (given deadlines and the young ages of the creators), but this mini does little to intrigue.

The Heroic Few #0, by Storme Smith and Matt Lesniewski. (Colors & Letters by Dan Lee). This is a very odd comic. It is essentially the Silver Age Avengers (specifically, the "Cap's Kooky Quartet" team led by Captain America with former bad guys Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch) drawn like early 1990s Image comics. Smith really knows his way around these classic Silver Age stories, and he even makes some interesting changes and connections, like changing around the origin of the Hawkeye analog (Sharpshooter) and hooking it to a variation of the Marvel villains the Circus of Crime. Lesniewski is adept at channeling his inner Rob Liefeld in terms of the character design and the excessive number of lines on the characters. Say what you will about Liefeld's ineptness as a cartoonist, but his work had a genuinely weird energy that practically vibrated off the page, and what Lesniewski does here is pair that energy with the Jack Kirby energy of the originals. He also does a decent job of balancing Smith's extensive infodump of a script and allows the panels to breathe a bit. Smith is introducing a gaggle of new characters, and the plot device of a reporter is actually quite effective; it's just that it's a lot for a new reader to take in, even if they're in on the joke. This is a nice bit of a one-two nostalgia punch that is cleverly written.

The Fuglies, by Steve Carter and Antoinette Ryder, aka S.C.A.R. Published in 2014 by Australian outfit Pikitia Press, this is a whacked-out bit of post-apocalyptic eugenics, mutants, sex, and cannibalism. The artist-writer duo S.C.A.R. stars the proceedings with some gratuitous nudity from a young woman on the run from her best friend, but things aren't quite what they seem. While they have to deal with Fuglies,--carnivorous mutants who are the leftovers of regeneration experimentation--it's revealed that young and beautiful Rae & Gloria are also flesh-eating mutants. It's just that they look more human, are smarter, and craftier. This comic revels in its pulpy ridiculousness, as its gore and violence are depicted in a naturalistic and even heroic-looking manner. The plot takes a few surprising twists and turns that elevate it above your standard zombie/mutant storyline. The art is serviceable if a bit stiff at times; the action feels more like a poster than the fluid cartooning than it needed. 

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