Tuesday, April 05, 2005

29th Leg: Storm Corps




Comic: Storm Corps
By: Chester "Chet" Lucero

Setting and Elements: Earth, Futuristic, Space and Sky-travel
Content Type: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi, Mystery

Art Medium: Drawn, Inked and Digitalled coloured.
Art Style: Disney-esque, Semi-realistic

Is About: The crew of StormCorps weathership Terra Thunder, who in the battle to control the fierce skies, face internal intrigues and sky-pirates as well.

Website: http://www.stormcorps.com/
Frequency: Weekly
Availability: Free

First Impressions and Presentation:
The website design is nice, compact and clean. Colour choice is kind to the eye. Very nice, and helps draw focus to the attractive art. Very efficient navigation too!

It may sound silly, but from the point of view of a first-time reader, the "Story starts here!" sign is VERY helpful. I've always liked being able to jump right in at the beginning, nothing as irritating as having to HUNT for the first or going backward through the archives.

The practice of having every page of the comic available via quick links from every page in the archive is also very handy. In terms of user-friendliness, StormCorps already scores a major point.


The Concept:
There is definitely a lot of originality inherent in the comic. The idea of the controlling the weather (which is by nature unpredicatable) to survive is very appealing, even if the explanations of how they did this were rather vague. Add more so to the idea of the other planet where things seem to take on a mythical feel.


The Art:
The first word that comes to mind for the Stormcorps art is "Disney-style". The art in the beginning is a bit shifty in terms of porportions, but improves greatly, and by the current chapter, is nicely consistent.

The comic has capital airbrushed-looking colouring, and the artist's work on mechanical elements (airships and machinery) is to die for. Being a person who can't draw machinery well, I can particularly appreciate how good Chet is with his technical drawings. Page layouts and cinematography is excellent and varied, and the background-work is beautifully detailed.

Chet also seems to be able to draw very attractive characters without resorting to being gratitiously sexy. Unfortunately, there does seem to be this issue where most of the male and female human characters seem to share the exact same ideal body types and faces, with differences only in clothing and hairstyles. On some of the facial close-ups I had trouble telling one character from another.

The other issue is the lack of expression variety. Expressions seem to be fixed in a permanent smile, even in situations when smiling seems rather out-of-place. There's the occasional 'mildly alarmed' and 'smirk', but it always seems to default to the same smiley expression again. This really does make many of the scenes feel posed and unnatural.


The Writing:
The story begins with a prologue which give a lot of background and history on the world and setting. Some people dislike these kind of prologue because they generally feel a little info-dumpish, but I didn't mind this one. It was a little long and did drag on for a bit too much, but it was well-done otherwise. It was a fairly good introduction, although it looks like it was done after the completion of chapter one.

The first chapter opens in splendid action style, StormCorp ship Terra Thunder spots a mysterious ship in an area it should not be. On closer inspection, one of the crew spots a man being thrown-off the deck of the mysterious ship, which turns out to be a hijacked military ship.

From then on, the story gets more and more interesting. There's a lot of intrigue and good action involved, and it really does pull the reader into the thick of it with cool cinematography.

Although the story focuses on action there were a few hilarious scenes as well. That particular example appealed a lot to me because it happens to me too ;) However, the humour does takes a back seat to the story.


Problems:
Something I must mention though... although the story flow was interesting, something was nagging me throughout the reading of the archives. It's very difficult to put my finger on what it was that distubed me, but the closest I can get to it is the plot is illogical in many places. There are some very nice plot-point and twists throughout, but a lot of other things just don't seem to make sense even though the creator takes a crack at explaining it (and I'm not talking about technical details, here). The story as a result sometimes feels like a very forced and pre-selected sequence of scenes, with a far too many coincidences and engineered plot-points holding them together.

To add to this is the behaviour of the characters, which really puzzles me. The characterisation is excellent, and with many nice little human touches. In regards to their behaviour towards the plot though, 'unnatural' would be the best word to describe the state of things. For example, the reaction of the character "May" appears to be a very strong-willed and loyal, but on discovering that one of her former crew-mates is taking up with pirates and betraying his former organisation, not only does she not do anything other than demanding a few questions, she doesn't do anything about it.

Characters also seem to be almost eternally good-tempered and unperturbed even after the aftermath of events that would plunge a lot of people into depression or at least a spot of traumatic shock.

All in all, these are very subtle details, and I highly doubt most of the people reading Stormcorps will find this a problem if they even notice it at all.

To me however, although good, there's just that intangible something about that just doesn't feel right about Stormcorps that suspension of disbelief can't quite cure.


Overall:
Stormcorps is a comic with excellent art and interesting (even if not very convincing) storyline. It's a good read, but there's just that something not-quite right with it that keeps it from greatness. Nevertheless, it's worth checking out, and some of you might end up disagreeing with me and my gut feelings ;)


The Next Leg:
I feel a bit whimsical today, so for once I'm not going to pick a next leg. Instead I'm going to point out that this is the Storm Corps links page. For this leg I'm letting you guys decide where I go next.

Most of the comics listed seem to be quite popular already, and a fairish number of them (Lovarian Adventures, Eidolic Fringe, Cascadia, Timescapes, Magellan, D101, Mindmistress, Bolt City/Copper) are already on my read (and used-to-read-when-they-updated) list. I'm giving precedence to comic picks that I haven't read yet, but if no one suggests one of those I have no objection going over any of the mentioned.

So pick a link!

13 comments:

  1. Hmmm...the Petprofessional one looks interesting. Or maybe Desert Rocks. I dunno. Those are the two that caught my eye.

    ~Night

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  2. Desert Rocks I HIGHLY reccommend.

    Keep up the good work here, too. I never comment but I always read. =D

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  3. Bo Lindbergh4/05/2005 7:57 pm

    Sequential Tart covered Desert Rocks already (here). I suggest A Miracle of Science.

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  4. I would suggest "Private Eye Butterfly". It's a noir mystery comic with a cool twist, and I've heard less about it than Desert Rocks (which is good) or Miracle of Science (which I seem to remember is also good, unless I'm confusing it with something else).

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  5. Hmmm...

    I think the Butterfly one looks cool, too.

    I think you ought to check out Vinibudd, the Superhero in Training. I don't necessarily like it, but I would like to see what you have to say.

    Keep up the good work, and good luck with your new page. *wink*

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  6. Mmmh, Outsider is awesome, but I'd have to cast my vote for Desert Rocks, if only for the scale of the whole thing.

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  7. Yes! Other people who have heard of Private Eye Butterfly!

    I came across it last week on an unrelated google-search, and was surprised at how small its audience was. The author was kind enough to answer a couple questions I posed to him as part of a University project, so he's a good guy too. It's definitely worth a look.

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  8. Same as Zak, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on Vindibudd. I've tried reading it before now, and something struck me as keeping it from greatness.. Argh, I'm terrible with words, and you're not, so it'd be cool to see if you can spot what I'm failing to put words around.

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  9. Whoa! Talk about an avalanche of picks.

    Ok, so far the following comics have been suggested:

    The Pet Professional (1)
    Desert Rocks (3)
    A Miracle of Science (1)
    Private Eye Butterfly (3)
    Vinibudd (2)

    I've had a look at The Pet Professional. Looks intersting, but it seems to be a very new comic with not enough pages. The last time I reviewed a comic with not enough pages I suspect I ended up having a hand in unintentionally killing it, so I think I'll wait for this one instead.

    And as Bo has rightly noticed, Desert Rocks HAS been reviewed by Sequential Tart. Back on the the first page of this blog, I did mention giving priority to those not reviewed, so I'm afraid that's out too.

    However, with so many people recommending Desert Rocks, I'm still going to read it, so you might well see it on the blog as a stopover entry instead of an official leg.

    That leaves the following:

    Private Eye Butterfly (3)
    Vinibudd (2)
    A Miracle of Science (1)

    I'll leave this up here for a bit and see if there's any changes in the vote count later. The most popular one wins, the the runner-up gets sidetracked ;) Yes, I'm greedy.

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  10. ps Zak: Thanks for the encouragement ;)

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  11. I like Private Eye Butterfly the most. The noir mood of the comic is completely opposite to that of a butterfly in the sense of the word, and the overall effect is quite unique and impressive.

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  12. Crumbled_Paper4/09/2005 8:18 am

    I'd like to cast a vote for Private Eye Butterfly. With the cool first panel (look at the curve on that building), it has quite a stylist flavor to it. Nothing is quite out there like it ... in the webcomic universe. It definitely deserves a chance for a wider audience.

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  13. I vote for Private Eye Butterfly! :) I think Richard deserves the exposure.

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