You know the expression “so bad it’s good”? There are a lot of comics that I read like that. I am the first to say that books like Guy Gardner: Warrior, Extreme Justice, and, well, a good chunk of everything else that came out of DC and Marvel in the early and mid-’90s. There’s a particular charm to a comic that is trying its best, and is exuberantly enthusiastic, if not good in and of itself.
But those comics come with their more common, more probable, cousin. For every book that is so bad it’s good, there are nine books that are just bad. And bad is a big, broad term. There are comics that are bad plot-wise, there are comics that are bad artistically, there are comics that simply fail because their lettering or coloring is dramatically bad, and there are comics that are all above the above. It is rare, in fact, to see a comic that people paid for that is so dramatically bad. Say what you will about Big Two Comics, but there is a basic level of competence that you can expect from a book from them. You can’t expect the same, for good or ill, from independently published books.
Unfortunately, The Last Owling, written by Ray Marek III, drawn by Joseph Hao Olesco, and colored by Avery Ferdinand, funded through Kickstarter, is such a comic. It’s just bad. There isn’t really any way to spin it beyond that. Beyond, maybe, praise for the clear enthusiasm for the book by the makers, there really isn’t anything nice that I can say.
The Last Owling follows the adventures of a young superheroine called ‘Owling,’ which, according to the internet, actually was a term for smuggling wool, and is not about a bird, but, that’s neither here nor there. Owling, who is wearing bright pink and white, which are not colors that owls have, is clearly supposed to be evoking Batman, to the point that she is literally just wearing Batman’s logo. Owling fights some baddies and returns to her base, where it is revealed that she is the latest in a family line of Owlings.
Later, Owling encounters another superheroine, a young black woman going by the name Brazen. They fight some generic thugs, and discover that an organization that is literally just the Court of Owls runs their city. It’s very, very, by the numbers. If you’ve ever read a Batman book, you’ve read this story before.
It’s not just that the comic is by the numbers and trite. It’s not just the ridiculous sexualization, even for a comic marked “mature,” and which apparently sold nude variant covers. It’s just a basic lack of skill on the things that make a comic readable. The word balloons aren’t arranged in an order that makes the conversations flow. A lot of sentences are incorrectly punctuated. There’s basically a T&A shot every page.
There are fixable issues. But they’re fixable by taking a while off – not by immediately making an issue two.
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