Story/Art: Dave Ryan & Various
“The dawn of Man boasts little in achievement save warfare.
Ironically, it may have been my saving grace from the mouth of madness.
For who can measure a lifetime to a man who was old when mountains were but mounds?”
-Whoever the bad guy in this is, they don’t say his name (or explain his poor grasp of irony).
Like anyone, I like to think I’m an open-minded guy with a sense of humour. So when I was sent War Of The Independents to review, I laughed and laughed and laughed. Because what could be funnier than to send a comic critic a set of adorable child’s scrawls for the purpose of review? Hilarious.
Hilarious that is until I, in the spirit of fun, did a Google search for the indy-comics event that this sweet little kid had come up with. Until I discovered that this was no joke. That this, the most amateurish, poorly written, horribly illustrated comic book I had ever seen was in fact not only real but professionally printed and sold by adults.
There is no God, by the way. Just got that now.
Look, there’s a very good reason this review is so obtuse. Reviewing War Of The Independents is difficult because War Of The Independents is virtually impossible to read. Or rather it’s very difficult to summon up the enthusiasm to continue reading once the first few pages set the tone. I honestly can’t begin with a summation of the story as I’ve read this comic twice and can’t find one.
The art is unspeakably awful, with barely any understanding of anatomy whatsoever, characters striking action poses with no enemy in sight and perspective thrown right out of the window. This is what happens when people learn to draw by observing mainstream comic book art. the artist ends up exaggerating on top of exaggeration and you end up with a Liefeldian “it’s detailed, so that’s the same as good” approach. Though paradoxically the backgrounds in some panels are quite nicely rendered in an attractive Richard Corben style.
As for the writing, where to begin? No seriously, where do I begin here, since the story seems to be in full swing at the start of this so-called issue #1 with no recap of what – if any – story has come before. Did the story begin in another book? If so, which one? Most of the characters aren’t even introduced by name so if you don’t happen to read every independent superhero/SF/action comic on the market you’re completely lost! Not that you’re missing much, unless you happen to think the true Golden Age of comics was the mid-90′s and modern comics take too long to get to fights and don’t show enough gritted teeth. On top of this the action is peppered with too-frequent use of quotes from the likes of Shakespeare, Nietzsche and Oppenheimer in a transparent and frankly arrogant attempt to ape Alan Moore that only serves to underscore how horrible the rest of the writing in this issue is.
At one point a character teleports into the middle of a skirmish between a bunch of lizard men (this might be the Bucky O’Hare universe maybe?) and a collection of heroes who have no business being in the same universe, never mind the same story. He introduces himself and claims he wants to recruit them to help him battle a great evil, will they willingly join him? “Of course we do! Never mind the seemingly life-or-death struggle we’re already in the middle of, you say you need a hand! You told us your name and everything, so we can instantly trust you! What’s that? you think that rag smells of chloroform but you’re not sure? Glad to be of service, give it here!”
At a con some years ago I met some kids of about ten years old who were trying to sell their comic which was just a bunch of Jhonen Vasquez Squee strips redrawn with new names for the characters. It was like to complete works of Charles Burns and Daniel Clowes by comparison to War Of The Independents.
1/10 (one point given for remembering the staples)
Best worst part: The nameless villain, narrating a past fight, is surprised by events in a story he himself is telling!