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Friday, July 17, 2009

Rundown of iVerse Comics on iPhone

With work as it is, I've had less time for actual gaming and more time for flipping artistically rendered panels on the iPhone. iVerse has been trying to push the digital envelope for comics and some of their titles are pretty interesting. I think at this point I've read through most of their library, so here's a quick review of each.

Atomic Robo
It's an interesting blend of old school comic plot structure with a great deal of humor and the occasional dose of humanity, played up well since the lead character is well, made of metal. First title to hook me into reading comics on the phone and well worth the read.

Proof is one part X-Files, one part fantasy and a dash of crime drama. You get your titular character - a Sasquatch adapting to life without Sasquatches helping a world inhabited by more mythical creatures (cryptids as they're called) than anyone realizes exist. It shares much of the same space for me as Atomic Robo with strong character design that feeds well into the plot. Definitely recommended.

Great art design, interesting premise of an alternate future where mankind struggles against an Earth where dinosaurs still roam. There's clearly a well thought out backstory here and the writing doesn't make the mistake of feeding it all to the reader all at once. It's action packed and a great read.

This may be my favorite title so far, which is a bit painful since only two issues have been released for the iPhone. The story is edgy but contrasted by the main character's complexities - Lucifer, the female thief of the comic, seems almost soft until she pulls some stunt with a demon or breaks a nose. Hopefully the next two issues will get released soon.

The Red Star
A fascinating blend of religion, technology and magic - The Red Star offers a great tale of a vicious war where tanks, fireballs and gods seem to clash into each other. Very unique, very well done.

Chance of a Lifetime
This two parter will surprise the reader. The cover lends to a kind of average Silver Age sort of read, but the story of a normal person being suddenly gifted with powers making him one of the first superheroes on the planet isn't entirely straightforward. There isn't a great deal of depth here, but the length of the two issues feels just about right, this isn't a typical hero plot - but a short story about a person in extraordinary circumstances.

White Picket Fences
A great blend of 50's sci fi and Cold War fears make Fences a very worthy read. It also has a great sense of humor and plays its child protagonists quite well. Great to see a title without capes or superpowers, a very excellent read.

Armor X
Armor X's saving grace is the internal conflict of the main character, a loser high school kid with more than a few sociopathic tendencies. Without this twist, it would be more of a "boy meets alien device, gets girl" affair, but the lead and his interactions with the world kick it up a notch. Not my favorite, but worth a look.

I didn't have much interest in Abyss as it seemed like a pretty standard hero setup, but the upside is that Abyss is actually pretty darn funny, walking a fine line between parody and homage to the genre that it plays off. It's not a great read, but it is certainly entertaining.

Update: Now that Abyss' is completely out, I should note it really pretty much sold me by the end. It sticks to this homage/parody line very well, and makes for - despite my earlier comment - a great read.

Dynamo 5
Pretty generic in a lot of ways, Dynamo 5 does at least use the premise pretty well. A squad of superheroes with only one thing in common - their now deceased superfather, tries to fight crime under the tutelage of his authoritative and manipulative wife. There's a lot of possibility here, so I certainly would like to see more than the two currently released issues.

Super Human Resources
A deeply funny parody of the superhero genre, SHR is punchy and entertaining. Combined with office jokes, the title might not appease the the hardcore comic reader - but should if they have a sense of humor.

Funny, not hilarious and often pretty sophomoric, SuperFogeys might tickle your funny bone and worth a try. I liked it and hope to see more out of the title, but didn't enjoy as much as SHR.

ShadowHawk and FX
It's not that these are necessarily bad titles, but they're really not for me. Fairly generic rehashes of Spider-Man in their own ways, these might be good for people looking for more standard superhero stories as reading material.

Wind Raider
There's something missing to Wind Raider's backstory to really make me suspend disbelief around a group of warriors who can summon the wind, but the post-apocalyptic landscape is well done if only marginally cliche. This is a title I'm hoping will pick up in future issues, but it has bit too much Fist of the Northern Star meets Mad Max for me right now. Course, that may be your thing.

Star Trek
I'm just going to lump all the Star Trek material together for brevity's sake. The prequel to the recent summer movie is certainly worth reading, but for the most part if you're a Trekkie, there's plenty to like here.

Flash Gordon
Better than I expected for a story which has been done and redone several times. The art is quite magnificent and the source material used extremely well.

Well, that's more or less it. I haven't read much of the manga and stayed away from the other TV adaptions (Ghost Whisperer and Eureka), but if iVerse doesn't get more material through the review process soon, I may give in there as well.


Thomas said...

These guys are on Android, too. I haven't bothered to try them out, so good to see the writeup.

The conflation of data and binary on mobile platforms is really evident here, though, and it drives me batty. It's weird to think of each issue as its own application, although I guess they can move to in-app purchases (not that such a thing really solves the problem), and implement something similar on Android, but it still strikes me as clumsy. I'd really like to see them implement this in the standard CBZ/CBR format, instead.

Josh said...

Yeah, I've had similar thoughts. I'd like to see a parent app so that I could track which comics I want, when they're coming out, etc., and not have to search the App Store's rather clumsy interface (for this kind of thing) to find new releases.

Thomas said...

Oddly enough, they are actually building one of those on Android, since application data isn't sandboxed by the OS. But rather than build a custom market inside the collection app, they're still shipping individual issues as Android Market applications, then you can install the data to SD card and uninstall the wrapper application after 24 hours.

The whole paradigm is a mess.

Josh said...

Guh. Yeah, I'm even OK with an app per issue, except for all the work the user ends up having to do to track titles.

Even if iVerse had better information on their site, showing individual titles, links to download them, release dates, etc - that would be a start.

joakime said...

Speaking as the developer of the Android version of the iVerseComics app.

We hear you. ;-)