Friday, October 8, 2010

Thank Goodness for Herald Owlett Volume 1

By Nikki Stu

I suppose it’s possible you could read one of Nikki Stu’s comics and not pick up on the video game references. The experience points awarding for defeating bad guys, the super moves, and the fact that it’s basically just one fight scene all make it seem kind of obvious to me (though I suppose Stu might just have watched a lot of Dragon Ball Z). But I like video games, and I like comic books inspired by video games (not necessarily ones based on video games, though I was excited to find a couple of issues of the old Super Mario Brothers comics a while ago) so none of those points count as negatives for me.

Here Stu introduces Herald Owlett, a weird antlered creature who has entirely too many eyes for me to believe he is actually an owl. Herald is a bushwatcher, though exactly what that is isn’t really explained. As he is fighting monsters that are damaging trees I assume he is some sort of nature guardian/ranger thing. But that is beside the point, because these are awesome monsters! Gigantic black beasts (summoned by some weird little goblin creature Herald has apparently dealt with before) that seem to change and flow as the battle progresses, gaining tentacles, eyes, and other body parts as needed. Herald clearly has no chance.

And just because the comic is basically all a fight scene really doesn’t bother me. I like Stu’s designs, the dialogue can be pretty funny (“I don’t want to be eaten, not today!”), and I’m given enough hints about a bigger plot that I’m curious about what happens next. The cliffhanger ending doesn’t hurt either.

My only complaints are that a lot of the computer lettering is kind of awful looking (letter it all by hand, the bits that already are look better!) and that some of the backgrounds (or rather the lack of backgrounds) make it kind of confusing to figure out what’s going on and where the characters are (he’s inside the tree?). I know that more recent comics Stu has done (such as her contribution to the Songbird/Birdsong anthology) have much better lettering, so I’m looking forward to reading future volumes of Herald Owlett and hoping they’ll have the same improvements.

And apparently Failboat press are in the process of putting out a second Songbird/Birdsong anthology, but need to sell more of the first volume to get the funds to pay for the printing of the second one. It is an awesome anthology (I think I’ve given positive reviews to pretty much everyone who contributed) and the physical object is really nice. You should go and buy it right now.

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