Creator/s: Andrew Grieve
Section/s: "Space Commies from Outer Space"
Website: The explosion design's awesome, and it manages to make the comic seem exciting even though it's a fairly simple graphic. The large, detailed title also helps to make the comic look bold and impressive, and the oranges and reds match the coloring in the artwork and layout. ComicPress sites are usually pretty plain, so this is a great example of how they don't have to be just a generic template. It's too bad the creator's name isn't centered, though, as it's unclear what he was going for by putting it off to the left.
There's enough bonus content that the site would be impressive all-around if it wasn't for an extremely annoying "feature," which is that every comic page is followed by its penciled and inked versions. This means that the reader has to click the "Next" button three times just to keep reading the story, and it's annoying enough that I don't know if I would've kept going if I wasn't doing a review. I guess it's a way to get more ad revenue, or to encourage readers to buy the print versions, but it mainly just seems like a dumb gimmick that's probably preventing this webcomic from being more popular.
Writing: Most of the superhero webcomics that have been reviewed on this blog are parodies, and the idea seems to be to present an alternative to mainstream American publishing. However, there isn't actually a competition between print comics and webcomics, as webcomics are just so much better. So, I'll go ahead and make it official: webcomics won, print comics lost. From now on, the latter only belongs in museums and in the hands of antique collectors.
The death of print comics was caused by the medium becoming a circlejerk. It's messed up that you have its creators and fans giving its characters cutesy nicknames and taking its stuff so seriously when the Internet's the place for modern, high-quality comics. Yeah, the print stuff has amazing artwork, but the concepts and the way they're executed are unambitious and plagued by low expectations. With webcomics, though, there are so many of them and they cost nothing to read, so something has to be really special and competently done in order to get noticed at all. In addition, since it's so difficult, time-consuming, and unrewarding to be a webcartoonist, these individuals have to be super-passionate and force themselves to push their limits. Obviously, there are a lot of duds, as well as webcomics that are popular despite sucking and/or relying on fan-service, but the Internet's the main publisher now. And while I've seen articles that are, like, "Comics... on the Internet?!" it's clear that those writers are hopelessly out of touch. Webcomics have only really been around for about fifteen years, but it shows just how pathetic the print industry is that they were able to be dominated so quickly. Also, superhero movies are as big as ever, so the genre's still appealing, and it's just a matter of movie studios reacting to higher expectations.
Team Stryker's another webcomic that parodies superhero comics, and particularly their nationalistic aspect. In "Space Commies from Outer Space," it's making fun of the idea of some dumb meatheads promoting American values, and it doesn't work because it's tied to outdated contexts. The Cold War and superhero comics are both historical subjects, and they hold this webcomic back from being modern enough to be noteworthy. The jokes about drinking vodka and stuff are quirky enough to be a little entertaining, but they're not substantial enough to do an entire issue about them, and especially not multiple issues. It's also problematic that each of the four team members goes through their own communist transformation, making the gag quickly become repetitive. I get that it's anachronistic and all, but there's room for contemporary social commentary that could've made this a way better comic.
Another big problem with the writing is that it's just super-lazy. None of the meathead protagonists are memorable, and the only ones with a bit of personality are Casanova, who quips about being a ladies' man despite there being no women in the comic, and the "random" character, V-Scope, who appears to be mentally handicapped. And the villains are generic, nameless Martians, so there's no characterization there either. The webcomic might be trying to make fun of bland superheroes, but in that case there should really be more exaggeration so that it's actually goofy rather than just dumb. The other lazy part is that the grammar and spelling get a lot worse as the story progresses, which suggests that the creator hasn't been bothering to read his own webcomic. There's "comminism" instead of "communism," "Regan" instead of "Reagan," and "Uranius" instead of "Uranus," but lately, common words have started being misspelled too. For example, in the second issue, there's "gret" instead of "great," "lizzard" instead of "lizard," and "rile" instead of "rifle," in addition to other mistakes. Also, on the page where "great" is misspelled, there's an obvious screw-up where some of the dialogue's missing the speech bubble.
Art: Action's handled really well, with dynamic poses, detailed armor and muscles, and slick coloring, and it's impressive that the creator's been able to post high-quality action sequences week after week. The scenes are also pretty complex, as there are always multiple characters interacting, and there are plenty of busy panels with Martians everywhere. The pages get sort of tedious after a while, though, as all of the characters have a permanent "angry badass" expression, and the backgrounds are almost all just empty moon terrain. I mean, the creator does the best he can with the setting, but there are too many pages spent in such a boring location. Another problem is perspectives, as the creator struggles to draw characters properly when viewed from above(1, 2, 3).
Splash pages and double splash pages are generally ineffective since they waste opportunities for character and plot development. The first chapter uses double splash pages twice (1, 2), and while the artwork looks great, the dialogue's so tiny that it's barely readable. Fortunately, the creator provides links to larger versions in the comments sections, but it's an awkward setup just to add something that doesn't really benefit the comic anyways.
Finally, Comic Sans is just an ugly font, and while it has the word "comic" in its name, it doesn't belong in comics (or anywhere, really). The font used for the Martians' dialogue is better, though, and the special fonts used to introduce characters are a nice touch.
Overall: Team Stryker has some pretty good action scenes and shows some solid design skills, but all aspects of the writing are handled in a really apathetic way. It's like the comic's supposed to just be cool drawings of meatheads punching each other, and while it's only a parody, it's a dumb parody of dumb, old print comics. A much better idea would be to do a parody of webcomics, as that's something that hasn't been done as much before, and it would work better since it'd be more targeted towards webcomics readers. And while it might seem unfair to amateurs that they have to deal with higher expectations than the pros, it's ultimately helpful since it pushes them to make better comics.
|Scores (out of 5)|