Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Motion Comics

It is the fourth comic-related medium: you've got your actual comics themselves, your full blown animation, your live action, and now... motion comics! I had no idea these were a real thing until just recently. Actually, I had the idea myself and thought it was unique; I said to myself, "it would be awesome if somebody took these comic images and spliced them together into a movie or something!"

I took to YouTube with a search for "motion comics" and found some pretty amazing things. The fan-made motion comics span the gamut, from simply a scanned comic with a soundtrack like Batman Hush, to the somewhat professional Old Man Logan where somebody cut it together to show one panel at a time and have music and sound effects and special effects, to the somewhat more professional Daredevil where there's one guy reading all the lines, to the almost-as-good-as-the-real deal actual motion comics like Deadpool Suicide Kings or The Death of Spider-Man.

Each of these are not only super-awesome because you get to experience a great comicbook story for free on YouTube, but they're also really cool because they are by far the laziest way to consume a comic. For a while, I thought that lazy-factor was covered by digital comics. With ComiXology, every time you touch the screen, it takes you to the next panel. There's no thinking about where to look next, you just read what's on the screen! Motion comics take that laziness to the next level. Not only do you not have to look for the next panel, but you don't even have to read! It's awesome.

It's also super-motivating. If I had to pick a dream job (besides one day when I finally open up the Coby's Comics brick-and-mortar store), it would be to work on a motion comic. I hope to one day make some of my own. It's just, well... it looks like a lot of work. And, you know, I got that whole lazy thing going on. But still, it would be so awesome to work on these for real and actually get paid for it! One day, maybe....

Anyways, after sifting through all of the fan-made motion comics on YouTube, I finally found the real deal. And they are THE COOLEST THING EVER!!! I will be the first to admit, they are not for everyone. The movements often look very strange, and the way the mouths move sometimes can ruin the whole thing if you focus on it. But, overall, I absolutely love this newly-discovered fourth comic-related medium. So much so that I went out and bought all the legit motion comics I could find, produced by the Marvel Knight Animation imprint. What follows is a brief review of each of them:

Iron Man: Extremis

The story was great. Of all the motion comics I've seen, I haven't actually watched one based on a story which I had previously read. So, the motion comic has been my first experience with the story itself. I imagine if I had already read the story, I still would've enjoyed watching the motion comic, as it would've been like breathing new life into the story, bringing the pages of the comic to life. But, for me, experiencing it for the first time in this motion comic format was awesome! I liked going back to the original story of Extremis, not that bastardized version from Iron Man 3 and the first episode of the S.H.I.E.L.D. television show. Also, I'm not too familiar with Iron Man's supporting cast from the comics, but the acid-dropping, mushroom-growing Sal is my new favorite character! Such a cool moment when Tony is hanging out with him, avoiding his raw-food farts and spitting his possibly DMT-laced tea back out (see the clip below) The story was great! The animation, not so much. Adi Granov's art by itself is pretty epic. I can always appreciate a well-done painting. But, taking these paintings and making them move is terribly awkward. I didn't care for it. I cared even less for when they couldn't figure out how to make the paintings move, so they just threw in an out-of-place 3D figure. This combination of well-done 2D painted art and poorly-done 3D figures takes away from the story, but not so much that I didn't still enjoy it. Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers

Awful, Awful, Awful. Awful story. Awful art. Awful 3D animation. The worst motion comic I've seen. I'd prefer watching any of the fan-made motion comics over this. I do, however, appreciate all the hard work that went into making the book and the movie. Watching the special features, Robert Rodi, the author, seemed to be really proud of his work. He even compared it to Shakespeare. Maybe that's the problem... I never cared for Shakespeare. Applying something as boring as Shakespeare to a character as exciting as Thor just sucked all the life out of it. The format of the story was boring, also. It takes place after Loki has already beaten Thor; so, the whole movie is just Loki talking to each of his prisoners individually. Soooooo boring! I literally fell asleep while trying to watch this. I turned it off and tried again another day and fell asleep again! The art was also pretty terrible. It was painted, like Iron Man: Extremis, only, it doesn't work here. I think it's the lack of lines, it makes the art look more like an amateurish water-colored painting than a great work of art worthy of a comicbook about a god. The 3D modeling in this movie was even worse than in Iron Man: Extremis. I hated it. Overall rating: 1 out of 5 stars (and the 1 is only because I can appreciate all the hard work the creators obviously put into this).

Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D.

This one was pretty good. I enjoyed the darkness in the art. Usually, I find an overuse of shadows nearly as annoying as an overly-shaky camera. I want to actually see the images on the screen, and anything that gets in the way of that usually frustrates me. But it worked in this one. I was even less familiar with the Spider-Woman character than I was the story--I think my only exposure to her has been from the Ultimate Alliance video games. So, it was pretty cool to get to know her a little bit. Also, it's good to see a shadowy government organization other than S.H.I.E.L.D. get the spotlight for once. Spider-Woman didn't blow me away, but I enjoyed it. Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Astonishing X-Men Collection

This Blu-Ray collects Joss Wheden's run on the X-Men into four different parts: GIFTED, DANGEROUS, TORN, and UNSTOPPABLE. I hadn't read any of Wheden's work on X-Men before, so I got to experience the story for the first time as a motion comic. You wouldn't think a TV and movie director could transition over into comics very well and, at first, I wasn't impressed. It seemed strange and different and a little too quirky for my tastes. And then I fell in love! By the end of the fourth story, I was on the edge of my seat and had a permanent smile plastered onto my face. This is one of the best X-Men stories I have ever seen! More than that, it is one of the greatest stories of all time. Seriously. I'd put the tale up there with any of the greats. I'd call it an instant classic. I cannot say enough good things about the Astonishing X-Men. I think I would've loved it whether it was a motion comic or not, but this was the perfect story to bring to life as a motion comic. Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Marvel gives the first Astonishing X-Men episode away for free! If you don't like this, you probably won't like any of these motion comics. Watching this is what first inspired me to go out and buy all of the other Marvel Knights Animation.

Black Panther

The greatest motion comic EVER!!! Even though they kinda cheat sometimes by actually drawing some of the animation themselves, rather than taking the art straight from the pages of the comics, the Black Panther is the most fun I've had watching anything animated in a long time. The story is great, the art is wonderful, the voice acting is top-notch, and the soundtrack is AMAZING! I love it. If, after watching this, you aren't singing "T'Challa!" in your head over and over, something is wrong with you! The partnership with BET worked out great. The way everything comes together in this motion comic makes it the standard for motion comics that all other motion comics should be held up to. Overall rating: 6 out of 5 stars!