Friday, August 25, 2006

The Longbox 8/25/06

Lethal Instinct #6 (of 6)
writer: Romulo Soares (with Bart Thompson translating)
artist: Alex Borges
Alias Comics, released 7-5-06
You know, you read a lot of gripes online at comic sites and message boards about how everything in the industry revolves around superhero titles and the small, out-of-the-mainstream books never get noticed. These are accurate complaints to a degree, as some of the best stories being told in any medium can be found from the independent comic publishers. Exciting work has been coming out of Oni Press for quite some time, most recently in the form of new series Wasteland and the upcoming Damned (a book that sold me on its gangsters and daemons concept from the moment I found out about it). Boom! Studios with their X Isle mini-series and IDW Publishing picking up Peter David's Fallen Angel, among other titles, are two other comic houses to keep an eye on these days. What all this means for us, the fans, is we have more places to look to spend our money when perusing around the local shop (assuming your shop carries books other than the big sellers). You'll find that this has some drawbacks, as I find that I've been dropping more cash on comics each month because they are just so damn good I can't control myself, but that is the nature of the beast because more comics equals lower drinking funds (thank god I live in a college town where booze is cheap to find).
However, among all of those great books I've been getting, I have come across a few stinkers, the worst of which is being reviewed in this article.
See, about year and a half ago when I began to become serious about reading comics, I wanted to spread my horizons and get some books by lesser-known publishers. At that time, two were just putting up shop: FC9 Comics and Alias Comics.
FC9 intrigued me with Hell, Michigan, which told the story of a town that bred evil within its boundaries, causing a few citizens to band together to combat it. Sadly, I only ever received two issues and though it wasn't as great as the premise, I'm still disappointed that I never found out how it ended. A quick look at their website reveals that they've been as stagnant as Britney Spears' music career over the past year.
Alias, on the other hand, offered up Lethal Instinct, a tale about a paranormal-investigating policeman who just happens to be a werewolf. And issue #1 was only 75 cents! How could I resist?
The first issue was released on June 6th, 2005. Over 13 months later, I finally received the concluding sixth installment. Wow, was it NOT worth the wait.
Really I have only myself to blame for this. I knew this issue would be bad. I've known it was going to be a horrific display of inconsistent art and cliche-ridden storytelling for over a year now. But I ordered it anyway. Why? So I could tear it apart in this column.
*** Part of me feels a little guilty for what you're about to read. I really do try to support independent publishers and always root for their success, even Alias in their future publications. However, this atrocious comic must be lambasted and reviled in every possible aspect. Continue reading at your own risk. ***
First off, because this comic is so immeasurably horrendous, I couldn't bring myself to dig out the previous five issues and reread them. It's taken me all the willpower I possess not to burn them so that no other person would be subjected to the shear amateurish nonsense contained on these pages.
Lethal Instinct was originally published in another country and this is the American adaptation. As a result, all the Spanish (or was it Portuguese? can't remember) has been translated. The problem with this is that Bart Thompson either had absolute shit dialogue to translate from, or didn't know how what the proper translation would have been, instead incorporating every pathetic line from recent Eric Roberts strait-to-video cop movies. However, I may be giving Mr. Thompson a little too much credit. You see, when you have such gripping dialogue as, "You're informant's timing sucks!" on page two of this issue, and since it just happens to have a glaring grammatical error as the improper utilization of "you're" as opposed to "your," you kinda lose all potential credibility. In prior issues, the lettering itself would inconsistently waver from bubbles overloaded with text to gigantic balloons with hardly anything within them, obstructing the sub-par artwork.
Speaking of the art, it truly is some of the worst I've ever seen. Issue #6 thankfully is without some of the obvious blunders of past installments. I recall a panel in issue #3 or #4 where our hero, the werewolf, is locked in a cage, but for some reason his shadow was going the opposite way of the shadow the cage was casting. And to top it off, the cage depicted on the next page failed to even have a shadow.
The remainder of Borges' pencils in the series are not significantly poor; they're simply uninspiring -- action scenes have no sense of drama or impending doom, werewolf transformations appear routine, and every big-breasted bimbo is generic in virtually all imaginable ways. Unfortunately, lackluster art is the rule with this book.
I think that most artists rise to the occasion of the script they are given, so blame of Borges can only be taken so far. I believe the majority of the finger pointing belongs to Soares. His original story is probably just as weak as what the American version has turned out to be. Within the precinct, Frank, the werewolf cop, is constantly having his chops busted (I swear that phrase was used 40 times in the entire series) by his unsympathetic sergeant, who coincidentally looks a lot like Samuel L. Jackson, ala the Ultimate version of Nick Fury. Frank is the police detective in every B-movie you've ever seen, only worse. He's given the wisecracking jokes (if they really can even be called that) and puts the obscure pieces together to solve the mystery before anyone else does. Then there's Ingrid, the beautiful new partner who is actually working for the bad guys, but at the end of the day sees the light not only in doing the right thing, but within Frank as well. LAME.
The only remotely interesting aspect of Lethal Instinct is Daniel, Frank's friend who grew bat wings at the end of the series. There isn't anything in particular that makes his character worth continuing the saga further, but a guy with bat wings fighting a werewolf cop would be kinda cool, even if it was depicted in a shitty art sequence.
Welp, that's about all the complaints I can muster up, so stay away from this title with all your might. Now I'm off to the backyard to have myself a little barbecue.
1 out of 10

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