Saturday, August 8, 2009

Zuda Review: Octane Jungle

Octane Jungle by Morgan Luthi & Mike L. Kinshella

What's to Like:
Cool stuff here. These guys drop the reader right into the middle of a car chase that is both exciting and well executed technically. The primary protagonist is immediately introduced in the heat of a common conflict for him, and the fact that said conflict involves roaring engines, grappling hooks and buzz-saws emerging from car trunks just makes it fun. The dynamism that pushes this entire sequence is a huge credit to the creative use of lettered sound effects and the spectacular bouncing among different views of the chase participants. Octane Jungle is a good example of the measured, organic use of narrative in a comic. The spot-on pacing of the chase amidst the running exposition by our hero, Jackson, drives the reader excitedly through the story, culminating in a funny and unexpected pay-off when Jackson's mission is revealed.

The creators also manage, in the eight brief Zuda submission screens, to round out a very interesting supporting cast, my favorite of which, The Baron, never even utters a word - testament to the clever use of textual references and, okay, bad-ass pictures of the little guy checking his rear-view mirror for an impending crash and then down-shifting to pull his buzz-saw closer to the remaining pursuer. Then, Luthi and Kinshella work in two screens of foreshadowing that serves to both flesh out the role of Jackson and his crew in the larger world of Octane Jungle and to bring in a major (and hilarious) antagonist for them. Excellent and fun storytelling that takes advantage of most of the distinctive elements of the comics medium. Even the lettering is expertly crafted. I found the shadowing and general style of the word balloons to really blend with the rest of the artistic stylings.

What it Lacks
Honestly, I can only bring up one major criticism of Octane Jungle: the coloring. The monochromatic, neon palette used to various degrees throughout the work is harsh and really tough on the eyes. It washes out what is otherwise sharp, edgy artwork and makes entire images indistinct from the backgrounds within the same panel or even page. The surrealist coloring job significantly detracts from what is otherwise an awesome read.

My Zuda Rating
4 Stars. Give this thing the detailed, full coloring that it deserves, and you've got a 5-star winner. It's going in my Favorites, no doubt.

My Vote?
Octane Jungle
won me over despite my issues with the coloring. I think this is where my vote goes for August, '09.

No comments: