Friday, December 23, 2011

Tommy's Take on Fall

I occasionally review comics here, sometimes prompted by outside sources and sometimes prompted by my own desire to do so. This review is spawned by the latter impulse.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: FALL is a graphic novel by Fabian Rangel Jr and Juan Romera, published by 215 Ink. Cover price is $7.99, and the digital version is $3.99 on the webstore/app.

The bulk of the story is set in 1995, after Josh Reyna and his family have just moved due to his Dad's new job. Josh is miserable, being bullied and would probably be ready to snap, except he's got a secret: A space alien named Russ is hiding in his room. From there we get a buddy bonding tale that takes a dark turn when Josh's bullying gets out of hand, and ends in something less than a happy ending, for a couple of reasons. It claims to be a tale of "disillusionment, loss and the realities of growing up", which is certainly an accurate claim.

In addition to the story itself (told in two chapters), Fall contains a five page script for the original version of the story, as well as the completed short tale. One of my only real complaints about Fall is the length - I felt like it could have been longer, easy - and so I'm not a big fan of the five page version, but it is a nice bonus, seeing how the story evolved from five pages to two chapters. The book also includes a few pin-ups, mostly of Russ.

WHAT WORKS: The author has a strong handle on dialogue, and the story is a good, if somewhat depressing, tale. The art is not super realistic, but you don't get any of the characters confused, and that's always a plus, ESPECIALLY in non-superhero books, where you can't just tell people apart by the costumes.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: As noted above, my biggest complaint is the length. In an age where stories are padded out to the point that nothing happens, I felt like Fall hit its third act twist and climax too soon. While it is an improvement over the five pager (in which Josh's parents come across completely neglectful due to the small amount of space), another issue of developing the romantic subplot, as well as Josh and Russ' friendship, probably would have made the third act feel a bit less abrupt to me. Or maybe it was so good I just didn't want to see it end.

CONCLUSION: A very good story that's more than a little depressing for any kid who said he wasn't going to be like his parents when he grows up, Fall is well worth your time. I've read one other work by the author, Revenge Rooster, which was a fun, ultra-violent romp, but this one has a bit more depth and resonates with me more, while the contrasting works show me that the author is certainly not a one trick pony. Thus far, my favorite offering from 215Ink (although, if I ever get to read more than one issue of Vic Boone, that may change), and one of the best indy titles I've read in recent memory.