Coleen Campbell delivers the cover to introduce the third volume of the Reads anthology, which gets to its third issue. And it’s a mixed one… good, but not great. More interesting than satisfying. You can see previous reviews here – Reads – Issue 1, Issue 2
There’s a couple of strips that just did very little for me, not bad so much as just didn’t grab me. I’ve not really got on too well with Bad Times Ahead thus far, and although this issue moves on a lot, there’s still not enough to make me go wow, and art/storytelling just isn’t doing anything for me. Likewise Haunters Gonna Haunt, which just hit me as a kind of nothing strip. However, any anthology will, or probably should, have a variety of strips, and that means a variety of tastes. So lets have a look at what I likes….
Opening with Tim Bird, whose Grey Area was again in the good, not great category. Darkness on the Edge of Town has a similar, quiet, relaxed theme as Grey Area, albeit taken outside and into suburbia with all its greyness, all its mundanity. I can see what Bird wants to do, create a meditation on teenage life, exploring their suburban environment in preparation for adulthood and moving on, out into the world proper. But although it looks really good, the emotion felt just that bit flat. There’s talent here, but it’s not out completely yet.
(Darkness on the edge of town by Tim Bird)
Hilary Harper went missing in issue 2, and it’s good to have the Jon Pertwee-a-like back in issue three; it’s a fun romp sort of adventure, over too quickly this time, insubstantial fun stuff featuring Harper failing to stop those dinosaurs whilst Lulu (yes, THAT Lulu) and Agatha look on.
There’s a plot afoot, the Beeb are trying to switch on a transmitter and what looks like Moriaty to Harper’s Holmes awaits after a Pterodactyl cab ride.
Horry’s artwork goes missing a few times here, perspective and anatomy seems a bit off, and although he does rescue it somewhat with dynamism later on, it feels rushed compared to the previous episodes.
(Hilary Harper in “Revenge Of The Dinosaurs” by Ricky Miller and Steven Horry)
Biggest surprise in here; Owen Pomery doing comedy. It shouldn’t really be a surprise, as his dialogue in Between The Billboards was funny and naturalistic, but here, with the introduction to a new strip The Megatherium, “a 19th Century brotherhood, forged by a thirst for knowledge and fuelled by a taste for eggnog”, he’s full of ridiculously funny, and I look forward to this as a proper full-sized comic:
(The Megatherium Club by Owen Pomery)
Ricky Miller’s Metroland returns for another episode of the indie band drama with dimension hopping and sci-fi adventuring thrown in. But instead of picking up where Miller left us last time, we’re somewhere else, and meet someone new, and it’s all a bit confused and confusing.
Metroland’s got real potential, but it does need to start realising some of it soon and right now it intrigues a little, but frustrates more. Part of this is the problem with presentation; it’s not a strip that benefits in any way from short serialisation with big publication intervals, and although this episode doesn’t really engage, there’s enough here to intrigue and suggest that the bigger story is going to be worth revisiting at some point in the future, with more flesh on it’s bones.
(Metroland by Ricky Miller)
Gifted by James Halsall and Staticgirl is another frustrating thing that started really well, great art, nice idea; a supergirl struggling with her powers. What would you do if you couldn’t turn off the super-hearing?
But the start is destroyed by a final page that fails on punctuation, grammar, caption layout, and dammit, that’s a shame. Had to read it several times to get what they meant, but by that time I’d been yanked out so much that it spoilt the strip. But both Halsall and Staticgirl have promise.
(Gifted by Luke Halsall and Staticgirl)
In the end Reads Issue 3 does just about enough to feel like a good read, but there’s also that sense that it needs to move on, and deliver just that bit more. There’s tons of promise in here, but promise needs to be developed. I look forward to seeing some development next time.