Friday, February 28, 2014
"You're such a ninja wannabe."
We all need saving sometimes. Not all of us though are afforded the luxury of having a very capable ninja and equally capable hacker teaming up to save us, let alone have the story told to others. It's all good clean fun in Shadows of Oblivion: Better Days One-Shot. The one-shot is written and illustrated by Shawn McCauley.
The first story is called "Rescue" and it pursues the challenge faced by Cerberus trying to save Warangel. He's accompanied by Gear, the tech wiz with a penchant for zingers and breaking through security systems. The second story is called "Gear," giving readers a look at how exciting the aforementioned tech wiz's life actually is. Both stores are set during the "better days" of the clan, years before the events of issue zero tore everything apart. Back when there were still heroes, and the line between good and evil was clean cut.
McCauley's writing is very fast-paced and moves at an impressive clip. He doesn't spend too much time giving the reader much background information on the characters; instead, he assumes you've already read the other books in the series or just want some good clean fun. Having said that, he still manages to show off a lot of the relevant characters through the actions and dialogue, really giving new readers a good grasp of the Shadows of Oblivion universe. That isn't to say he clobbers the reader over the head with the characters either; in fact, the real selling point of the book might be the really clean art. From a broader standpoint though, it would've been refreshing had McCauley switched the roles in the first story; that is, have Warangel save Cerberus for instance.
Handling the art and writing duties probably gives McCauley something of an advantage, as he can more innately put to paper what his words conceive of. That is to say, his art really matches exactly what he's going for visually since he's the one thinking it up. The black and white illustrations add a different feel as well, something that actually works in the book's favor and makes it that much more enjoyable to read. Characters are illustrated with anime sensibilities, including male characters who are extremely buff and female characters who are both vivacious and not afraid to show it. He also doesn't show an aversion to using varied panel layouts, providing looks that are staggered and keep the action moving along at a good pace.
Shadows of Oblivion: Better Days One-Shot is a pretty lighthearted comic, thanks in part to its characters, but also thanks to the writing and art. McCauley clearly has a well-defined universe to play in and if you've read others in that universe, the one-shot will definitely mean a lot more to you. Barring that, the book still moves along briskly enough and gives characters that new readers can easily grab onto, making it a very interesting read for just about anyone really. There are some sexual overtones throughout the book that are primarily advanced through the appearance of the female characters though. A book worth checking out if you're looking for something slightly off-kilter in a way and not really afraid to be humorous.
Shadows of Oblivion: Better Days One-Shot is available now via Comixology.