I have been putting this review off as long as I can. That is not, as you might guess, a good sign. To be fair, no single piece of the comic is all that bad, but they somehow combine to be far, far less than the sum of their parts.
The basic concept of bands with mystical powers fighting each other over a prize is sound. We know it’s sound because Bryan Lee O’Malley did it much better in Scott Pilgrim vs The World, where it worked as a side plot. When the idea is forced to take center stage with little else to support it, it’s quite wobbly. The book takes the route of “Indie music = good” and “any music produced by a big label = evil” for no understandable reason. The villains seem to be evil only because they’re backed by a company with money. The art is well-drawn. However it’s not comic book art. Comics are supposed to be dynamic and full of life, while the panels here are mainly static. Even at the climax, the fight scene made me feel more like I was looking at a tableau than at an epic battle.
And that leads to the main problem with this comic: It’s not really a comic at all. It’s as if an art student and an English student were paired up to do a project. They know that comics are a combination of artwork and storytelling, so they decide to do one of those. But neither of them has ever seen a comic before, and so this is the result. There are places where the text goes on for pages and pages while the same panel repeats under it, with no change. That’s not a comic book. That’s a loading screen. That’s a DVD setup menu. Not only is it not interesting, it’s so boring you want it to be done with as soon as possible.
Much of this can be explained once you find out that the book seems to be made up of screenshots of flash animated videos by the same name. While the videos aren’t going to set the web alight, they aren’t terrible. It’s the change in format that really kills it.
While this comic was painfully difficult to read, it is suitable for all ages. The violence is non-graphic and there’s no objectionable language or imagery in the book. But there isn’t much substance to this book and what there is, is rotten. I don’t have much of a way to sum up other than to say the book is not worth reading or buying.
Atomsplit: The Vandertramp Saga
Art by Douglas James Davenport
Vandertramp Productions, 2011