PikaBot (pikabot) wrote,

The Paranormals: A Review

As I had nothing better to do this weekend(except play Baten Kaitos, which is officially the best RPG ever, if you turn off the voice acting) I finally got around to reading moonlightnrain and ebonlock's webcomic, The Paranormals. And having now read all there is to read, I must say that my feelings are...mixed.

The Paranormals inhabits the niche that Buffy the Vampire Slayer carved out: Wacky Monster-Fighting antics, with some High School Drama on the side. I must confess that, despite my deep-seated and never-ending love for Demonology 101 it's not something that generally appeals to me: Monster-fighting is all well and good, but I had enough High School Drama during High School, thank-you-very-much. That said, the High School Drama aspect is never intrusive in The Paranormals and is generally more of a framework for the stories to work within, rather than a nuisance for the story to work around. So I can mostly ignore it and get on with the rest of it.

The cast of characters is diverse, interesting, and mostly likable (I could do without Persephone, but Neptra is always hilarious and so I can forgive). Preston, in particular, I like: his particular brand of snark always makes me snigger, and on the cast he has by far the most interesting abilities. Magic applied through technology? Programs coded in an ancient druidic language? Spells encoded into MP3s? Awesome.

The issues are episodic in nature, which is...alright, I guess. The only issue with that is that there doesn't feel like there's much tying them together and relating them. I realize this is a horribly unfair comparison, but Warren Ellis' Planetary tells a complete story with each issue, but still manages to make each issue feel like it's building towards something. You can see a point to the series underneath of it all. With the Paranormals you don't really get that, although this aspect has improved significantly with the last few installments.

The script is smart, and intelligent. It suffers slightly from Whedonism, where just about every exchange concludes with someone ribbing someone else or making a smart joke, which some people dislike. I love that sort of thing, though, so no issues there! Each character has its own voice, and is distinct from the others in the dialog. On occasion the comic veers a little into Preachy territory(Issue Four in particular) never too deeply or for too long.

Unfortunately, the art does not match the writing in terms of quality.

In a word, the art is static. There's very little sense of movement between panels. Here's one particularly bad offender:

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The glasses and newspaper look like they just TELEPORTED into place. No sense of transitional movement.

This is pretty important to me. Although this is again a horribly unfair comparison, John Romita Jr. is one of my favorite comic artists, despite his tenuous knowledge of anatomy and his repetitive faces. Why? Because he really knows how to make the page move. as far as I'm concerned, that's ten times more important than an artist's Still Figure drawing abilities.

In addition to that, the composition is...off. People are frequently just standing around, staring at the reader in unnerving fashion People never seem to be really looking at each other, and it's just...off.

Also, nobody should be subjected to this facial expression. Seriously, that's going to give me nightmares. It is a horror. Although that's an extreme example, the facial expressions are often weird, disturbing or sometimes downright bad.

Despite all my ragging on the art, I will give it one prop: Rose's werewolf form reminds me of Bone. That's never a bad thing.

And there we have it. For good or ill, that's my impressions.

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