Fore Shadow: Full Speed

Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2007
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Fore Shadow: Full Speed Creator(s): Vin Varvara, Jemir Johnson, Bill Young
Publishers: Creative Elamentz Studio
From: USA
Price: US$ 9.95

This is the second weighty volume that I have reviewed from Creative Elamentz over the last six months. I found the first volume to be inconclusive and I must admit that this second helping still leaves me less than totally convinced.

It is indeed an impressively thick anthology, 8 stand alone comics and 1 illustrated prose story spread over 200 pages and all for less than ten bucks. So on page numbers alone this represents real value for money. The question to be answered though is that is there quality in the quantity.
What we are presented with here is an introduction to, or further development of, nine separate characters from the ever increasing stable of Fore Shadows group of super heroes.

The main problem that I have is that despite the fact that each character is a separate entity created by a different person there is a worrying similarity about many of them. In particular the structure is very repetitive.

Too many of the stories concentrate on over long action/ fight scenes. These wordless segments often go on for a number of pages and in most cases the length alone means that they lose intensity and focus and in some case become just plain confusing. These wordless segments are often contrasted with wordy dialogues or monologues. Again they are often just too wordy and in many cases the contrast between these two approaches in just too dramatic to be truly effective.

The real beauty of comics is the way they combine word and picture to create something quite unique. It is the way that these two aspects compliment each other that often marks out an outstanding comic from an average one. In ‘Fore shadow’ all too often they exist as separate entities and do not effectively compliment each other.

The anthology kicks off with ‘Vigilance’ and this is a good example of what I am talking about, 15 pages of wordless action is just too much, followed by a 5 page dialogue then another 8 pages of wordless action. The lack of unity spoils what is potentially a great story. Now I realise that some of this is quite possibly an intentional technique to reflect the main characters confusion but it needs to tighter.

The second story featuring Agilic operates in a similar manner. Here the opening pages are a mix of dialogue and monologue and the second half is a wordless action sequence.

The third story featuring the werewolf character Howler is probably the most successful tale in this anthology. The art work is a step up from the previous two stories. The heavy use of black and shadow creates a mysterious and tense atmosphere that is entirely appropriate. The first section of this tale does marry word and picture extremely well and as a result is very convincing. Then we have the long fight scene and the structure gets lost.

‘Cold Steel’ has strong links to ‘The Crow’ but is different enough to get away with it. This vigilante, dark character is extremely promising and I look forward to seeing more of him.

The concept of ‘Meanstreak” is wonderful. A school girl crime fighter, plenty of material here that could be developed in what is so far a diamond in the rough.

‘Pieces’ is a bold and visually arresting story again featuring a female main character and is probably the character with the most potential.

The prose story is very much beholden to the pulp genre and is entertaining but not memorable.
We finish off with the tale of aliens and inter planetary warfare ‘Gonz Force’. The art work here is great but the lack of contrast in many of the frames does diminish the effect somewhat.

Overall the volume shows considerable promise but the narrative techniques utilised and the awareness of story structure both need work if any of the characters presented here are going to really fly.

In a Word: Heavy.

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