Image United #3 Review
- Published on Friday, 27 August 2010 14:48
- Written by Andrenn
Image United has been a dream come true for me as an Image fan. But the first 2 issues suffered from slow plotting no doubt, but I could forgive them for the fact that the characters I love so much were written so well and the artwork was absolutely amazing. But after an 8 month delay, can good character work and art save this title? Is the character work and art even still good? Lets find out.
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artists: Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino, Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio
Layouts: Erik Larsen
Colorists: Nikos Koutsis, Thomas Mason, FCO Plascencia, Matt Yackey
Story Rating: 3 Hellspawns of 10
Art Rating: 7 Shadowhawks out of 10
Overall: 5 Witchblades out of 10
Synopsis: At Youngblood HQ Shaft is telling Fortress to tell him everything he knows. Fortress says he doesn't know anything necessary but is getting images of what is to come. He narrates about Omega Spawn ruling the earth, turning it into a living hell. He says how the people will worship him and he'll turn on them and kill them all.
The villains start attacking the base. The Youngblood team joined by Shadowhawk and Witchblade show up and we see the villains charging the base lead by Chapel. Dragon, Spawn, Die Hard and Super Patriot show up. As they join the fight Spawn says its a distraction and he apologizes for not being more help.
Dragon is knocked out for a moment by Cy-Gor and soon Shaft, Badrock and Fortress join the fight as well. Everyone is fighting outside the base now, Shadowhawk figures out they must be organized by someone. The fight continues and Curse blasts Dragon, Spawn takes on Chapel, Super Patriot gets cut and Fortress says there's no hope as Witchblade says they can do this.
The statue of liberty is knocked down (by what I have no idea...whatever...) and crashes knocking the heroes back. The heroes and villains keep fighting but more and more heroes are falling and losing. Dragon gets impaled by Curse and Fortress gives his last energy to try and help but passes out as the other heroes are getting knocked out.
A massive blast hits the heroes and Omega Spawn appears declaring himself lord and master and that the world now belongs to him.
The Good: Image United #3 was bad, near awful, but somehow getting away with just being bad. The character work I've loved so much was in smaller portions then ever and the art...sadly the art has fallen down several degrees as well. This issue was most certainly not worth the wait and not worth the time I spent on it.
But we've got a positive part for just about every review here and I must admit for how disjointed the art got, it still never reached awful territory. It was still good artwork despite the huge failures of the multiple colorists. In the end these artists still draw amazing stuff.
I definitely loved the 2 splashpages of the fight, it really served no purpose other then some massive image but it was cool and it showed off the artists working together nicely. I also loved the final page of Omega Spawn, such a simple shot but McFarlane really went all out to draw a badass victory for our villain and it looked amazing.
While the character work was pretty weak, taking a back seat to the big fights, there was still some good moment and dialogue here and there. I did like the little nod of Spawn being new to this, as well as Chapel mentioning his previous history with Spawn. Overall the dialogue is still off by quite a bit but it still had its nice moments.
I did like how Kirkman seems to be teasing at something with the villains. From what Curse said it seems obvious the villains are being possessed by demons. Curse being the villain to point this out is perfect since all his life Curse was a religious zealot and it would make sense that out of these villains he'd be the only one resisting a demonic possession.
It was nice finally seeing the real big fights we were promised. The first 2 issues were more like teasing the big fights with some smaller fights here and there but this was much better about giving us the big fun action.
The Bad: I think sometimes you just need to keep a story short and sweet, even big stories like this. Sometimes writers just need to be realistic and realize that stretching a story like this into 6 parts isn't going to work and in the case of Image United it really isn't. There's 3 more parts here? Seriously? What the hell is going to happen?
Honestly next issue could be the finale and it would work perfectly. What on earth can we do but stall for the next 2 issues until the ending? That's all I can see happening, more pointless fighting and finally defeating Omega Spawn with #6. I get the first 2 issues were slow to start building up to the fights but really I'd say we've seen the best of the fights, lets get to the ending now.
Poor pacing that most big event comics tend to suffer from. I don't get why writers think stretching out a 4 issue story into 6 and sometimes (cough Secret Invasion cough) 8 parts will work. Image United is a simple fun story but its hard to have fun when we're just doing the same thing every issue, smacking bad guys around. Don't make it 6 parts if that's all you've got to fill it up.
While the dialogue had its moments, what really killed it were just some odd lines here and there. Witchblade shouting “We can DO this!” just felt hilarious to me. Maybe if this was Shadowhawk or someone else I wouldn't be laughing but seeing Sara act like some kind of coach for a team was just silly looking to me.
The statue of liberty falling really left me scratching my head, mostly just how the hell did it fall? One minute everyone is fighting and smacking each other around the next the statue of liberty decided to fall? I guess its supposed to add some drama or some big “Oh shit” moment but it really doesn't come out like that and just ends up being annoying.
The thing is if you want to bring down the statue of liberty, you can't just have it fall out of nowhere. Something has to cause it to fall. We need to see a villain punch it down or blow it up or something. There needs to be a story flow here that shows why the environment is suddenly changing, you can't just change it and have it be a big moment
I think that's what hurt this issue the most, the way we just move from one scene to the next feels like it has no flow. It's just us jumping from fight to fight and having no real reason or anything in between. Its very lazy writing on Kirkman's end and I think it's what ultimately kills any pacing or structure the story has to make it interesting or to make me feel more pulled into the story.
Any writer knows you can't just jump from one scene to the next. Kirkman had this exact same problem in Haunt #1 last year and it really killed the story flow as well. We have to have a reason we're going from one scene to the next otherwise it's just a jarring jumbled mess that goes nowhere and leaves the reader confused in the long run.
The dialogue never quite gets as bad as say the stripper dialogue from Spawn #198 but it borders on it. I think Kirkman isn't really trying with some of this dialogue and it shows rather poorly on the comic. It's clear when he's focusing on the characters and making them sound distinct and I like it when he does that but other moments it just feels like any random character could be saying these lines.
The biggest fault of Image United artistic wise would have to be the multiple colorists. Issue #1 had 2 colorists and issue #2 had some guest colorists that you could tell were just filling in some of the gaps for time. Here though we've got 4 different colorists and their work all clashes horrbily, making the art into a disjoined mess.
We've already got 6 different artists all with clashing and different artistic styles on each page. That alone is hard to make seem whole and gel well together but under 1 or 2 colorists it works. The coloring is all the same and it helps the artwork all have the same level of depth and familiarity so the styles don't clash at all and it works perfectly.
Here though with all these colorists, no doubt brought on for time to try and get the issue out, really looks rushed and doesn't work at all. Characters' colors change, Spawn especially. He seems to go from simple black on the outfit to the darker gray they were using earlier and it really sticks out like a sore thumb and takes me out of it.
I get why we've got all these colorists on it but at least have some coordination with them so they all look similar at least and all have the characters looking the same color from each page. Its very clear that 4 people colored this comic and its very clear that there was 0 communication and coordination on how it should all look.
The artwork itself has some rushed moments. Some bits here and there I think a little more work on them could have helped. Again this is especially true for Todd McFarlane when he's drawing Spawn. Some shots of Spawn are great, others, not so much. The splashpage with Omega Spawn ruling the world looked very rushed and unfinished, a bit more work into it and it would have looked great.
I understand a comic is a hard piece of work for any 1 artist, let alone 6 but that extra level of detail is what helps really make the artwork shine. This book had an editor, it would have been easy to catch how uneven the coloring was and to get the colorists to work together much better. It would have been easy for Todd to do just a little more work on something here and there.
Its this rushed feeling that really does hurt the artwork that, in the last 2 issues, was absolutely amazing stuff. Even Rob Liefeld who I've been an open critic of does a great job here and doesn't rush his work. It's clear he took that extra time for detail and it really paid off as his artwork really did look great. Its clear who took that extra time and who didn't.
I know it would have taken longer to get this issue out if it was just 2 colorists, and if the colorists coordinated themselves better and if Todd took a bit more time to add that extra touch but in the end we would have gotten a much better looking product and it would have been much more worth the wait and I wouldn't be as frustrated.
Another failure of the colorists, and this just confuses the hell out of me, is Omega Spawn's eyes. Here they are red in both shots we see of him. Why? In issues 1 and 2 they were green. I don't mind if he has red eyes, hell the red eyes look cool, but if he's got green eyes give him green eyes! You have to be a pretty stupid colorist not to notice something as simple as his eye color and remember that.
Did they just decide to make them red for some reason? Well that's okay, but don't change colors randomly for no reason! It's jarring for the readers and rather odd. Next issue will he have blue eyes? Lets give him rainbow eyes for #6, really go all out!
While on Omega Spawn, I hated that he didn't show up until the end. I know this is our big villain and we can't have him parading around or we'll get bored of him, but I just love the way McFarlane draws this guy and I want to see him on a regular basis tormenting our heroes.
The splashpage of the heroes getting blasted was clearly drawn by Larsen. Take one look at it and you can tell he drew the silhouettes of our heroes and then splashed some green paint on the page. I have no problem with it really but it feels rather lazy that this happen instead of getting a big shot of the heroes getting blown away showing each hero.
Fortress really isn't adding anything to this title at all. At first he seemed like our big hero. Now he's kind of just sitting around and not really doing anything interesting. How he's getting these visions, his origins, all remain unexplained and it really hurts the character and just makes him feel even more boring and less interesting.
While I did like the big action, in the end I feel we haven't really gone anywhere. We don't have any answers and no plot has been resolved at all. We're half way through this story and I have no idea what's going on and why it's happening.
Overall: Even for a big time fan like myself this issue was bad. Story and art are just below standards and it just doesn't really feel worth it anymore. I'll keep reading because I'm a fan like that who supports these characters and their creators but I can only hope things pick up as we enter the 2nd half of Image United. For now though I don't really recommend this to anyone, even fans like myself.