You know, comics haven’t interested me in some time. Not the mainstream ones anyway. Whether it’s because I feel the writing and art are becoming bland, or because of reasons I don’t feel are appropriate to bring up here. It’s often lesser known comics, or creative spinoffs I find myself drawn to these days. I’ve recently begun breaking into manga, much the same way I started watching more anime some years back when I began running out of interesting things to watch from the west. So it’s nice to see a small startup like this come along, and inject some new life into the industry.
DISCLAIMER: While I have zero intention of allowing this to affect my critique, for the sake of ethical transparency I feel the need to inform everyone reading of something about myself. A friend of mine works on this comic series. Though, not on the particular comic I’m reviewing here. With that out of the way, let’s get started.
I honestly don’t have much to criticize when it comes to Adobe Kroger, I’m just gonna come out and say it. No nothing’s perfect obviously. But the few complaints I do have are extremely minor, and are more nitpicks than anything else. Like how I feel a small bit of the dialogue is a bit too modern for the time this supposedly takes place. Or how a certain extremely complex pose or scene looks just a little wonky. Like I said, nitpicks. This is pretty solid first issue. I just have one major complaint: It’s too short. The story screeches to a halt, just as I start really getting into it. And that’s a shame, because I was getting into it. I understand that helps sell comics, and I appreciate that these guys need to more than most. I’m just never going to like it.
If that sort of thing doesn’t bother you, or you’re at least willing to put up with it like I am, then I’ve got good news: This comic is great. I really like it actually. Looking at the cover, I was worried it was gonna be more of the same-looking art that plagues the mainstream comic industry. You know how comics will often have these intensely detailed, sometimes amazing covers, but then you open them up and it’s the same old crap with no unique style or presence at all? This one has the opposite problem.
Now that’s not to say the cover art is bad, it’s not. I just have a personal distaste for this method that’s become the norm. As if the artists aren’t allowed to express themselves with a personal style, and are all taught to draw the exact same aesthetic. Adobe Kroger is a great example of what happens when an artist is allowed to stray from that formula even a little. The cover was actually drawn by the same artist, and colored by another. So it’s clear Mr. Panganiban is versed in that sort of approach. But when allowed to present things how he pleases, he chose this incredible inked style with heavy blacks and fantastic detail. It really evokes this sort of dark noir emotion that perfectly matches the content of the story.
I mean, what can I say about the art other than that? The action panels make sense, and aren’t hard to read. The characters all look distinct from each other. Even extras (that aren’t wearing uniforms) can be differentiated from one another. It’s quality, and expressive. I have no complaints here.
Now we’re on to the writing. Other than that seriously minor nitpick from earlier, I really like it. You’re introduced to the character, their motivations, their world, and the rules with brevity and grace. It has to rely on the opening monologue a little to get that done, but that honestly only fits with the noir setting. Not having the main character monologue in noir is like not having a sea monster in seafaring fiction. It’s not required, but it’s fun and distinctive.
Our main gal is well characterized. You understand why she’s doing what she does, and how you should feel about her. Even though you have no way of knowing how much of it is true, you know that at the very least she believes every word of it. Speaking of which: The world controlling religious organization is the good guy in this story, or at least they’re presented like that. Yeah, that’s different. Part of me hopes it stays that way, it would certainly set the story apart.
Another thing Adobe Kroger does that I find unique, is the character’s weakness. She has a stutter. Let me explain: In just the first few panels, it’s established that the magic in this world (at least the magic the main character is using) requires incantations to use. The importance of this rule is rather well established with the subsequent reveal of Adobe’s speech impediment. It’s an interesting idea, one I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Many magic systems use incantations, but none have used that as an obstacle for the protagonist far as I know.
That segways nicely. Not enough stories with magic systems make the rules clear. It often seems as if characters can just do whatever they damn well please when the plot demands it. Adobe Kroger manages to effectively establish that there are rules here, and what some of them actually are, all without literally explaining those things to a character (in other words: the audience). It’s a balance of subtlety and presentation that so many writers simply fail to understand. The fact that Mr. Sacharow (the writer) has that skill, bodes very well for the nuanced and complicated story this comic seems to tease.
Overall, I give this a resounding recommendation. Despite my apprehension for the cliffhanger, I’m excited to see what this story and Mr. Sacharow have to offer. There’s a lot of potential here for some interesting development, and a unique setting. I’m looking forward to the next issue (and hoping it’s a bit longer). I really wanted to show your more of the art here, but I didn’t wanna risk putting too much out there. It’s a joy to look at.
Give this one a buy, help these kats keep it up.