Friday, October 17, 2014

Skylanders #1 (Comic)

Quite recently, IDW Publishing has begun releasing a comic book series based on the ever-popular Skylanders property, having released an exclusive issue #0 at San Diego Comic-Con to build interest in both this venture and the then-upcoming Skylanders: Trap Team. Thankfully, this first issue is not just a reprint of the #0 comic, beginning to tell new stories in the Skylanders universe to flesh out its world. Though it is obviously meant as a way to further advertise the toys (see: Transformers), this first issue does manage to expand on the games’ characters, even if it is a little rough around the edges.

This issue features a main story, “Forgetting Flynn”, and a back-up story, “The Secret Origin of Trigger Happy”, both written by Ron Marz and David A. Rodriguez. “Forgetting Flynn”, drawn by Mike Bowden and colored by Fernando Peniche, follows Flynn as he tries to transport the Mini Skylanders to Skylanders Academy. On the way, Flynn sees Kaos has disguised himself as Weeruptor (one of the Mini Skylanders) to infiltrate the Academy. In response, Kaos casts an amnesia spell on Flynn and a Skylander, Chopper, tries to snap him out of it. I thought the story was written fairly decently, since it does good at highlighting Chopper and Flynn’s dialogue was written such that it sounded like things he would say, especially when delirious (and of course it’s hard to un-hear Kaos with his dialogue). However, the whole business about Kaos taking the form of Weeruptor goes unresolved, and on top of this the story just says “End” at the end. Looking at an ad in the comic for the Skylanders Micro Fun Packs (micro comics plus extra goodies), it appears the story will continue in the next issue and this is part of a 3+-issue arc, so the “End” was probably included due to it being released as a separate micro comic. However, it was a little confusing for me, since I’m used to seeing a “To Be Continued…” or some other variant when a comic has a running story (the Adventure Time comic from Boom’s Kaboom! imprint does this with bigger arcs and it usually also has a back-up story). As far as the writing goes, however, this was my only real hang-up about it; also, “enchilada” eventually becomes a weird word, but that’s beside the point.

Buy our toys!

Mike Bowden’s art works pretty well for the main story, as it did for the Comic-Con comic, bringing his own style to the Skylanders characters while still drawing them accurately and expressively. Fernando Peniche’s colors compliment this style, adding extra life to the characters and helping to match the tone of the situation. An interesting thing about the art is that, while the characters themselves and other important objects use definitive outlines, the backgrounds go without outlines, which I think gives the comic a certain feel to it and helps the characters not blend into their brightly-colored backgrounds.

“The Secret Origin of Trigger Happy”, drawn by David Baldeón and colored by Ander Zarate, sees the Skylanders Trigger Happy, Night Shift (a SWAP Force member) and Bouncer (a Giant) at Skylanders Academy training out of boredom while they wait for Blades to show up, and in this boredom Trigger Happy tries to relay his backstory. This story was an interesting read, as it gives some insight into what Skylanders do when not trying to stop any villains (of which the new game contains a plethora), and it was kind of funny to see references to some known Marvel and DC heroes as Trigger Happy explains his origin. The story ends up being kind of a big tease, but it was still nice to see the Skylanders in their off-hours; it makes you wonder what others do with their spare time. I liked David Baldeón’s art here, since it was very energetic and expressive, and Ander Zarate’s coloring work only adds to this energy (in addition to some rather impressive lighting work that really adds some depth to everything, as well as some glow effects on places where there would be on Bouncer’s toy). It would be very interesting to see more from this art team in the future.

The artwork for the back-up story is very energetic.
(Page shown without its dialogue.)

Also, as with the #0, this comic contains character bios at the back, so it can be assumed that this will be a running feature. I like to make a point of reading stuff like this, as it gives me more background on the characters and helps me to appreciate them more (and I’m sure the same can be said for any hardcore fan). In case anyone is wondering, the bios in this issue are for the Skylanders Spyro, Jet-Vac, Prism Break, and Food Fight.

Skylanders #1 is a decent start for the Skylanders comic, even if it does have a couple of rough patches. The writing isn’t terrible, the art is nice to look at (especially in the back-up story), and it does a good job of trying to flesh out the characters (which is a little more than I can say with the games themselves), which I hope to see more of in future issues. This is definitely a comic that any Skylanders fan should pick up, and anyone interested in playing the games but does not have the money or resources to do so can use this as a more cost-effective jump-on point to understanding the game’s world (the main story even offers a brief and concise summary of the overall backstory for newcomers). As someone who has not been able to play Skylanders: Trap Team yet, I’m glad to see that there aren’t any spoilers for that game anywhere, so anyone in a similar situation can pick up this comic without worry.

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