Writer: Frankee White
Illustrators: C. Thomas Anderson, Ned Barnett, Julia Cartales, Dave Chisholm, Kyler Clodfelter, Alex Delgado, Ivan Fiorelli, Minerva Fox, Colm Griffin, Rupam Grimoeuvre, Bonnie Guerra, Matt Harding, Matthew Harrower, Salvador Henandez Jr, Fell Hound, John Jack, Liana Kangas, Jonathan La Mantia, Fabian Lelay, Martyn Lorbiecki, Elizabeth Malette, Adam Markiewicz, Mike McGhee, Dan Morison, Jenny Odio, Skylar Partridge, Sebastian Piriz, Simone Ragazzoni, Benjamin Sawyer, Shaun Sunday, and Artyom Trakhanov
Colorist: Liana Kangas and A.H.G.
Letterer: DC Hopkins
Editor: Danny Lore
Publisher: Dauntless Stories
WHAT IS IT?
Writer/curator Frankee White referred to it as a “narrative zine”; it is essentially a jam comic featuring 30 different creators trying to tell the end of a mecha anime that never existed.
Originally run through Kickstarter, it is now released via Dauntless Stories as a 67-page single volume. It's Gundam Wing with an indie-DIY spirit.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In the distant future, Fuku Basara is fighting in the dying days of a 10-year war between Earth and a distant colony, Saturn Sigma. Fuku is a mech pilot, or “ace ringer,” and the precocious hotshot that the hopes of Saturn Sigma are being pinned on. Following the recent death of their arch-rival, Fuku is faced down by a new enemy from Earth as well as enemies from closer to home as their own allies begin to distrust them. The future of Saturn Sigma hangs in the balance, as does Fuku's life.
Using interstitial profiles to fill in the corners of the characters and the world works well, managing to cover a lot of background that we would struggle without. Writer Frankee White uses these moments cleverly to fill out the world of the characters and makes their world feel vibrant.
Given the background of the comic and the sheer number of collaborators, there is an impressive coherence in the art style throughout. Nothing sticks out like a sore thumb or looks particularly unwieldy.
The splashes of colour from colourists AHG and Liana Kangas throughout the comic, which is predominantly black and white, add a good dimension to the art.
It is difficult to bring a lot of definition to characters in such a short time, particularly if they are intended to have a lot of unseen backstory, but all of them come across with their own personalities enough to differentiate themselves.
Letterer DC Hopkins' work is consistent throughout and there is one particular segment where an inventive use of it manages to communicate a character's feelings in a really intelligent way.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
There are panels that can be hard to follow and some shifts in tone within the narrative aren’t matched by the shifts in the art.
There is a fine line between homage and derivative and when you're dealing with a mecha story based around "Earth vs a distant colony," and it's hard not to immediately think of Mobile Suit Gundam.
There is a minimal amount of dialogue between people, which can be slightly alienating, and when there is dialogue, it isn't exactly dynamic.
When dealing with a comic with so many creators and ideas, it is hard to cover all the ground needed when you're dealing with something as narratively dense as what is attempted here, and it can feel like there simply isn't enough material for what the comic aimed to do.
Given how beautiful this book looks when fully coloured, it's hard not to be disappointed that it isn't carried on throughout the entire book.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Mostly because mechs are cool. It’s also undoubtedly featuring a lot of talented people. Frankee White brings a dynamism to the characterization in the limited space the creators have to operate within. When the bombast begins, the battles are rendered well, with dynamic art that captures the movements of the fights well.
Even if it is mostly uneven, there is good to be found in this book, particularly in the quieter moments. But if you're looking for a larger story, then you may want to go in with lower expectations.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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