The Concord Initiative

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The Concord Initiative

Postby mitchellbravo » April 19th, 2019, 4:32 pm

It's been about a few hundred years since I last did a review, so I guess it's appropriate to get my feet wet again with a comic set in the 17th century.

The Concord Initiative

I'm usually not much into action comics, but this one is so charming and fun, it deserves a lot more attention than it seems to be getting, based on SJ site stats.

Potential readers, this is a great time to hop into the story, as the first plot arc has come to a satisfying point where you still have questions about what's going on and where the story is going, but some questions- such as "What exactly *is* the Concord Initiative?" are starting to be addressed.

The opening is intriguing and spooky- our protagonist, King Edgar, is haunted in his nightmares by hellish, disfigured creatures that may represent real or hypothetical devastation against his people. We know little about his history by this point, but it's clear that figurative or literal demons are burdening him and taking a toll on how he conducts things in his kingdom, and affect the kind of leader he wants to be.

The lineart is light and breezy, and has improved greatly since the beginning of the comic-page 6 is a good early example, where foreground and background lines seem to be interchangeably thick. As the comic gets into its rhythm, the lineart is tighter and more effective. Compare to page 63, where background and foreground are easily discerned. I think there's more that can be done with the line thickness, but newer pages are much cleaner and more readable, and I expect the artist will continue to play with technique as time goes on.

I'm not sure how I feel about the dialogue bubbles, which come in a variety of fancy shapes and line widths and denote the character who is speaking. I'm generally not a fan of using visual cues like this to indicate the speaker, which may just be an issue of personal taste on my part, but whenever I see this kind of approach used, it makes me think the characters don't sound different enough in word to be distinguishable from each other. And the thing is, that's not true about this comic. Each character has a distinct voice and speech pattern, and I think the speech bubbles being what they are is like having on the subtitles for a movie when you can already hear the actors perfectly fine- it just feels unnecessary. That said, after I got into reading the comic, I wasn't too distracted by the dialogue bubble shapes, though each time a new character (and therefore new design) is introduced, I would pause and lose my immersion a bit again. Again, this may just be a matter of personal preference, that's just my take.

However, I think the font choice is perfect for the comic- it has kind of a warm and soft quality to it and is evocatively historic feeling, meshing well with the setting.

You see some really neat attention paid to background detail, particularly in places like the city scape on page 8, or the crowd scene on page 9 (look at the lady hitting on the guard towards the right, or the predatory looking old lady on the left). Color starts to come into play in this primarily greyscale comic around page 9- it is used sparingly to draw attention to objects. I'm not too impressed with its use on many of the pages, though scenes with bloodshed and when this guy starts going full Hades, it really stands out and looks cool. I also liked the use of the windows to add light and shadow in this scene. Otherwise, the greyscale fits the gloomy atmosphere of the story.

Overall, I really like the art. It's buyoantly creepy. The cartoonishness keeps it from ever feeling seriously disturbing, but I don't think it's meant to feel that way based on the story so far. I get kind of a Captain Pronin meets Courage the Cowardly Dog vibe.

The character designs are fun to look at- angular and epxressive. The perspective has a great deal of variety- you get close-ups, medium shots, larger exposition panels well selected, and different angles on action shots or even just during relatively mundane exchanges keep the scenes feeling dynamic and quick.

The Concord Initiative has had a great deal of action in its 66 pages posted to date. It has kind of that 80's-90's feel to it, quick-paced fights with snarky banter interspersed in a way that really works. Page 20is a particularly good example of the artist's composition during a fight scene. You can really feel the motion of the characters and where they are in relation to each other. Page 51shows off how well the pacing is executed during these scenes- allowing for pauses where characters recover or think about what to do next, accelerations when things are happening in rapid sequence. Then there's page 59 which is just cool. The art isn't perfect on every page, but you just get the sense that the artist is having fun drawing each scene, and that motivation comes through in the excitement of the drama unfolding.

Sometimes the anatomy gets a little wonky, but there's so much motion and expression being conveyed, it doesn't really take away from the art overall. Could it be tighter? Sure, but if the artist chooses to work on improving that, I hope it doesn't come at the expense of the dyamism and movement of the characters.

The world building is metered out to us as we get to know the three criminals who have been introduced so far (including Professor Astreides, who harnesses either magical or scientific powers to transform people into the types of abominations haunting Edgar in the comic's introduction... and who I can only picture and hear as Beavis due to his dialogue when he first comes onto the page). Like the action, world building is well-paced and woven into the plot, and doesn't feel overly expository. I'm interested in learning more about King Edgar and the many lands he seems to rule over, which appear to be based at least loosely on real European/Middle Eastern countries. This world contains supernatural beings and some magic- I'm not sure how extraordinary magical powers are within the context of this world, but I get the sense it's relatively rare, which is why the three criminals being presented to the king during this opening sequence are so important.

Spoiler! :
By the end of where I'm leaving off today, it's been revealed that the Concord Initiative is a plan to build an army out of the realm's most dangerous criminals. It's a neat premise that promises to up the ante with regard to future action & violence, and leaves me wondering about who the real "bad guy(s)" are that require the assembly of such a militia.

I really like the personalities as we've met them so far and I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes. I hope this review will get at least a few more folks interested in this neat comic. It's a fun, and for now quick, read, and it has a lot of promise for what's to come.
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