September 14, 2013

The longest thing I’ve ever reviewed
Lazerman 2 is officially the longest thing I’ve ever reviewed, clocking in at 76 pages. It also holds the very special honor of being the first comic I’ve reviewed that is not a compilation of multiple stories. All of this means this review might be very different from the ones I have done previously, but I hope it is still the in depth, thought provoking review that you all have come to know and love.

Who is Lazerman
I didn’t read Lazerman 1. And you know what? Lazerman 2 is so tightly written that it didn’t matter. The characters and plot are simple enough to understand that a new reader can jump in and glean everything you need to know in the first couple of pages. Like most of my reviews I will spend the first part of this review as my review of Lazerman, the unvierse, and the second part as my review as Lazerman 2 (the book).

Lazerman is a character created by HB comics, who are currently running a Kickstarter to produce the comic HERE. And guy, let me tell you, that 5 dollar point there, where you get a digital copy of the whole 76 page book, is gold. And I’ll explain why.

HB comics and I talked briefly on the reason for Lazerman. Apparently he started off as satire (remember the 3 groups of heroes I pointed out in my Bedbug review? If not click here.) and grew into what is very similar to the originals. In HB’s words “Lazerman started out as a “satire” of the classic superhero stuff, and as we went on we realized that there aren’t any of those any more. Everything is dark and cynical. So we decided Lazerman was the torchbearer for that genre.” While I disagree with their opening statement that there aren’t classic superhero comics out there, I do agree that cynicism is the name of the game these days, and I applaud them for attempting to make a character at the forefront of one of the most venerable of the medium’s genres.

So who is Lazerman? And does he do what HB wants him to do? I’ll let you be the judge as I lay down my observations. Lazerman is a college kid. I assume he is a freshman, as many of the antics he gets into are purely freshman related, but having not read Lazerman 1 I can’t confirm. His station in life is quintessential Marvel hero. Pick the scrawny, picked on, nerd with a heart of gold and give him superpowers. Lazerman is bullied by the blonde, jock quarterback that picked on him in highschool and who continues to into college (this… doesn’t really happen in college kids. Freshman from highschool rarely become lead quarterbacks in a college, and high school hierarchies typically fall apart in the modern college setting. This is pointed out by one of the bit characters, so I digress.) He has a crush on the jock’s red haired girlfriend. His best friend is the only one he can trust his secret to. He is a computer nerd. And, from the looks of it, his heart is at least partially gilded.

I did find one problem with his personality that bears little on the enjoyment of the universe. Lazerman is a boring kid when compared to some of the other characters in the universe. There is nothing he does or says that is “Oh boy I’m going to remember him”, at lease when compared with the other characters. The head strong police sergeant, the disgruntled mayor, the dumb zombie pair. Lazerman is a freshman kid who is still so much like the people he hung out with in highschool that he has yet to find himself even though he sees himself as apart from them. His personality is “classic superhero” and that makes him predictable. I stress that this is overcome considerably by the characters that surround him. The best example of this is when Lazerman is hit and has to be reminded that that would have hurt a normal person. Lazerman has a delayed personality, but perhaps that is the strongest bond he has with a classic superhero like Superman?

As for other similarities I noticed, the big one is the villain’s evil scheme. Do you know what I liked about classic comics? Villains have the most convoluted schemes for the most simple of tasks. I won’t spoil the scheme of Lazerman, but man, talk about trying to cut string with a cannon, sometimes scissors do the job man. In the end I felt very impressed with their attempt at making a simple, back to basics superhero comic, right up to the “and this is the obvious moral of the story” speech at the end.

But what about the book Scott?
Did I mention it’s 76 pages? That’s a lot to review. And I can’t really break it down like I do every other comic. The art, especially backgrounds, was impressive. Style is largely subjective, but the 2D art on top of the 3D rendered backgrounds was something I kept noticing again and again, almost always in a good way.

The plot was well written, and masterfully implemented. Lazerman’s main strength is multiple, individually driven characters that are focused on during jumps in the story. Whether it is the “Loose cannon cop on the edge”, the “evil mastermind”, or our young hero, the way in which these transitions occurred kept the pace fast and exciting. The comic rarely dwells on one character very long, using events as the catalyst for plot instead of character. That said, most characters are very simple and easy to gauge upon their first scene. There isn’t much of a layer system, most characters are who they say they are with little surprise in what they do. This is a great throwback to classic comics, where good is good, evil is evil, and rarely the two shall mix. While simple, the characters are almost all likable, and should entertain well after you finish the book.

Oh! And lest I forget, there are some strong themes at work in this book. I love themes, ya’ll know this. The two big ones in this book are about change as a force that is feared, not accepted, and about zombies representing human unwillingness to break away from a strong force that controls them. Keep your eyes open for the people who advocate change and where they are on their respective social totem poles, and where those are who are conservative on good times. Also, for those of you who have a copy of the book, take a look at page 15 and then page 39 in the digital version. Notice any similarities in these and the following few pages of each one?

I read the whole book in less than an hour. I scarfed each page down eagerly, anticipating greatly the next series of events. But there is one thing that I loved most of all:

Axl the Skeleton Lieutenant.
You can see him in the picture I choose to go with this review.
Doesn’t he look spectacular?

Conclusion
Lazerman is who he says he is, and it’s hard to fault someone for that, and neither should you in this case. The complaints I do have are small, and at the time of writing this review I don’t even remember any of them. I remember stupid zombies, a ludicrous evil scheme, a loose cannon cop on the edge with nothing to lose, and Axl. Lazerman is a steal at its current price, and you’d be crazy to let this lazer fly by before you can see it.


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