Sunday, January 24, 2010

'Sugarshock' - Guest Review by Simon Breeze

Sugarshock, published by Dark Horse Comics

Sugarshock started life as an online web-comic available on MySpace Dark Horse Presents and is the story of a rock band - Sugarshock - that's led by a girl called Dandelion and whose members include a robot called Robot Phil and two other girls, L’lihdra and Wade. Dandelion also appears to be part of a secret government agency, although this is never confirmed during the story, and it may just be all in her head!

The story follows the band as they are inadvertently invited to take part in an intergalactic battle of the bands; however it doesn’t take long for guys to discover that the word ‘battle’ implies just that.

My first impressions of Sugarshock upon reading was that it has good stylised art with a fun, sometimes random, fasted paced Sci-Fi story. The humour of the writing is very much what you would expect from Joss Whedon: punchy and clever. There also seems to be a lot of influences on the writing too, more in sense of a scene here and a word or two there rather than as a whole. For example, I got a feeling in some places of Green Lantern, Monty Python, Tank Girl, Josie and the Pussycats, etc... and I get the impression it’s not by mistake either, more of a ‘hat tip’ maybe?

Josh Whedon’s writing combined with Fabio Moon’s art gives the story a great pace, the panels don’t hang around for anyone, and yet the story doesn’t feel rushed at all. If there is a down side to the writing (as the art is superb), it is that there are no surprises, the main plot, or what there is of it, is very obvious and quite telegraphed in places. You can’t also help but feel that the comic is trying to be ‘small press’ when it doesn’t need to be, you already know as a reader (even in its online incarnation) that it is published by Dark Horse. None of this is necessarily a bad thing and didn’t effect my enjoyment of the story at all.

As I said the artwork is outstanding and really fits the writing perfectly, I can’t imagine it drawn any other way and working so well, and for the keen eyed there is a lot going on within the art too. Some of my favourite parts of the story that I found truly great, was the random ‘sketches’ and daydreams had by some of the characters. I know how some people find this sort of thing distracting, but I found them really fun and delightful.

Overall, you can't go wrong with this, it's a good fun read that will have you returning again to re-read it. Yep you may or may not have read it on line, but for $3.50 (Which is about £2.50-£3.00 in real money) you can't go wrong, especially with the bonus of an added sketchbook at the back of the comic. If it had one real flaw in my mind, it was I would love to get to know more about Dandelion and her story, the other characters feel a bit like window dressing in places, but that's just my preference, and a good one too I think, as shows an interest in the character and I want to know more about her.

If you have never read Sugarshock and you are curious it reminds me of Tank Girl or some of the more fun 2000ad or Heavy Metal Magazine stories, just toned down on the ‘naughties’ and bad language.

So, the ultimate question, would I miss, borrow or buy Sugarshock? A big fat and most defiantly buy for this one, It's a good fun light read, and I will defo go back and read it again.

Written by Joss Whedon with art by Fábio Moon
Published by Dark Horse Comics, 40 pages, full colour, one-shot, $3.50

[click here to view preview pages from Sugarshock]

As always, my thanks to Simon for his contributions to Escape from Tomorrow - remember you can find Simon on deviantArt and at his blog.

If you'd be interested in contributing an occasional review, preview or opinion piece then drop me an email, I'd be glad to hear from you.