Sunday, October 21, 2007

Space Doubles - A Review

It appears that our little blog is getting more and more notice. This week, Th3rd World Studios, another small publisher, contacted us about a book they produce called Space Doubles. The creator of Space Doubles and business director Scott Closter was kind enough to send us a review copy.

Jim: As the name implies Space Doubles is really two stories in the old flip book format. What is very cool about this book is the throwback feel to it. It reminds me of Outer Limits episodes or EC Weird Science stories. It is horror-science fiction at its most fun. I think the horror science fiction genre grew up in the fifties because the prospect of true space exploration was in the air and anytime we are dealing with the unknown it can be a scary thing.
Lee: I am really glad that Scott contacted us. I loved this cover the first time I saw it. It was strong, vibrant, and had a great horror feel to it. The claw on top of the helmet is just perfect. AND.... Outer Limits, Jim??? Wasn't that the name of the first monkey in space???
Gwen: I really enjoyed these books! Old school sci-fi at its best with good art to boot! This is something I'd have missed if we hadn't been asked to do this review. I definitely glad I got the chance to read this.

The first story was Red Rain – writer Mike Raicht and artist Alecia Rodriguez with grayscaler David Barkmann.

Jim: The moon was hit by an unknown object and the impact surrounded the moon in a red cloud. The United States gathered a team to send them to the moon to investigate. Once they arrive they find that things are not what they imagined them to be. I don’t want to do a full story summary, because I want you to pick up the book and try it out.

The twist ending and the actual story itself is not an shocker or even a wholly new idea, but the story reads very well and evokes a little of the old time feeling that I had when the US space program was beginning. The ending had a really nice tone to it and conveyed the proper feeling. I’m unfamiliar with the artist Alecia Rodriguez, but while John Cassady and Frank Quietly aren’t quaking in their boots, it was a well done job. Solid layouts and a clean depiction of the story. A really great job of showing emotions on the faces of the characters. My one complaint is that since it is entitled Red Rain a judicious use of the color red with the gray scale would have really added that extra pizzazz to the story.

Lee: I have to agree with Jim. This was a really good story and Mike Raicht did a fantastic job with the few pages he was allocated. Raicht wrote a first person narrative from the viewpoint of the head of the Space Mission which really helped to ground the book. He also did a great job of not only instilling the characters with original voices but creating a believable response to the event. The small details such as some of the astronauts being too young to know who the Beatles were and NASA creating action figures of the astronauts to generate revenue really helped set a tone for the story. It became very believable. The art was solid and conveyed the story well. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't Neal Adams or Gil Kane, but Alecia has a good handle on the basics and enough personality that it will be fun to watch her art grow in the coming years.

Uuummm Jim... When the space program was beginning????? Maybe, in your free time, you could post what it was like seeing the Wright Brothers flying for the first time too.

Gwen: Geeze Lee, it's like the pot calling the kettle black - you're both old men!

Anyway, this was my favorite of the two stories. I'm not sure what it was like when the space program was just beginning, but having gone to space camp (twice!) as a kid I'd have to say this story creates a fairly realistic setting. It also reminded me a bit of Fear Agent with the overall feel of the plot. The aliens were excellent and even with only brief introductions you felt as if you got to know the characters. I really enjoyed the art as well - very accessible and nice paneling (especially considering the amount of space to work with). In general just a fun comic book!

The second story was Project Obeah written by Leah Moore and John Reppion, Art Jeremy Dale and Inker Jason Roth.

Jim: Okay first off Scott Closter wrote the introduction for both stories and the first one is straight up why I’m involved in doing this book. The second was just downright amusing.

This story starts with a narrator but he "disappears" after the
second page. Overall, this is about an expedition to build and or terraform another planet for human habitation. The story is told well enough, but suffers from having a similar ending to the first story. Since I didn't' know what Obeah meant, I looked it up prior to reading the story. Apparently Obeah deals with West Indies “occult power”, so I was expecting the story to have something to do with that and it did not. Still a solid horror/science fiction tale and very similar to the beginning of a Robert Kirkman story.

Again I’m unfamiliar with the artist but I enjoyed the more fluid nature of Jeremy Dale’s work and believe that Jason Roth added a lot to the final product.

Lee: It's interesting that we read the same story, had the same basic reaction, but managed to "read" different things. I agree the story was told well enough but I felt it suffered from generic ideas instead of similar endings. Actually, I felt the endings of the two stories weren't similar in the least. And, the twist ending is the only thing that saved this story from being pedestrian. Writing a good hook into a 11 page story is an incredibly difficult task. Raicht managed to do it in the first story but Moore/Reppion somehow miss the mark.

The art was good and Dale shows some promise. His style wasn't as distinctive as but handled the story well.

Gwen: This story was a bit more predictable, although still entertaining. Then again, I find it hard to go wrong with zombies in space. In fact, zombies are almost always entertaining. I digress - The story was well paced although I felt that it was hampered by its' length. Still, there were some good ideas and the ending was well done. The art was nice and shows potential to become even better with time. This story worked well in concert with Red Rain.

Jim: Bottom line I have ordered this book and will sign up for future issues. It really has an enjoyable feel to it and definitely is an enjoyable read. If you liked the old time science fiction / horror comics of the fifties and enjoyed the Outer Limits, you should get a kick out of this book.

Lee: I'm really on the fence with this book. I really enjoyed the art because I really like seeing the up and coming artists. I also liked the difference between the styles. Rodriguez went for the Cary Nord pencil look with the gray scale while Dale went for the traditional Derek Robertson, hint of Pander Bros style. Both guys have lots of potential. On the other hand, one story was good while the other was ok. Jim best described the book with the 50's sci-fi feel. Although I might have gone with Twilight Zone which people under 40 have a chance of knowing v. the cult classic Outer Limits, Jim was accurate in the description. Bottom line, this is worth your time investigating.
Gwen: You know... I know what the Outer Limits is too Lee. Actually I think the Outer Limits is a closer comparison than the Twilight zone. Either way, I enjoyed Space Doubles. I liked Red Rain better than Project Obeah, but felt that they worked well together. If you want a break from overly involved and overbearing comics I'd give this book a try. Sometimes it's nice to just out and out have fun reading a comic book.

The diamond order # OCT073781

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