Monday, October 27, 2008

Jump Leads, Chapter Two

Man. You ever about to go to bed, and you realize you made this promise you gotta keep before you go to bed, and it's not a huge trouble and it's even sort of enjoyable but frankly you'd rather be in bed? That's me right now. But I'm a man of my word, so...time to read through chapter two of Jump Leads, and then talk about it with you.

This installment picks up where the last chapter left off: Meaney and Llewellyn, stranded in an alternate universe, find themselves aboard a cargo ship that's harvesting the energy of a nebula. The crew, immediately suspecting that the newcomers are hostile, hold Llew and Meaney for interrogation...which is interrupted by the intrusion of something else. There's plenty of action and danger, but it turns out that things aren't always as they seem. Not to give the ending away or anything, but the resolution of this episode's conflict did remind me I was reading a humor comic. I felt a little bit cheated, but overall this installment was also worth reading.

A big part of that was the art. JjAR, the artist, continues to go the extra mile--environments and characters are skillfully rendered and colored, conveying a strong sense of three-dimensional space. Adding to the effect is the level of artistic detail on the technology (for instance, these backgrounds). Perspective changes (e.g. lofted camera angles) and foreshortening are employed for dramatic effect, with technical precision. JjAR uses his fancy visual tricks liberally, keeping things dynamic, but thankfully he doesn't overuse them. To sum up: continuing the trend of the first issue, the art here is decidedly above the bar set by the average webcomic.

Another plus is the humor and characterization. Llew and Meaney's personalities continue to bounce off each other, the perpetual tension between idealism and realism forced by circumstances to cooperate. There are some clever one-liners, like this quip about how sinister companies pay better than the moral ones, although Llew is a bit of a broken record with his cynical prognostications of interrogational horror. The supporting cast of the nebula-farming ship gets about as much development as you'd expect from folks we won't see next episode, but they provide a setting for our heroes' adventure in the unknown.

And the characterization of our two protagonists is solid and engaging. Llew's wit and Meaney's zeal make for good comedy, and when danger strikes, we care about their fate because they're entertaining. We're invested in their well-being! It's not a deadly serious adventure, but for all their faults, Llew and Meaney are likeable guys that we want to see get out of their predicaments alive. Just as JjAR is a above-average artist, Ben Paddon (the writer) is an above-average writer.

Well, I'm done! That was a fun little exercise, and weird as it may sound, I feel like I've earned the right to go to bed now. I enjoyed reading through chapter two of Jump Leads, and if it sounds from this review like you would also enjoy it, I encourage you to check it out. Ari Collins will be around sometime midweek to deliver his usual alliterative analyses, and I'll be back on Friday with the weekly rundown. Good night, everyone!

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