Crabcake Confidential: Shockwave, Darkside
The say that in space, no one can hear you scream. But can they see you wearing rectangular glasses where one side is red and the other side is blue?
Shockwave, Darkside is a webcomic written by Jay Weisman and illustrated by Weilin Yang and team (who are the same art team behind previous reviewed Keenspot stablemate Wayward Sons). It’s a comic based on an indie movie of the same name. Despite a title that sounds like it could be title of a weepy Tori Amos single, Shockwave, Darkside is actually 3-D sci-fi movie where two factions on the movie fight over patches of water. That’s fairly ambitious for a film without a big Hollywood budget. The movie’s most prominent actor is a fellow by the name of Bill Sage. Also it has Filipino actress Mei Melancon, who played Psylocke in X-Men: The Last Stand.
Wait a minute… Psylocke was in that movie?!?!?
The comic is, in a way, equally ambitious. Because along with being tied to a risky indie project, it’s also coming atcha… in 3D!
The comic is viewable in 3D as long as you have anaglyph glasses (i.e., those with the red and blue plastic lenses). That’s a bit of a tall order. Who has two thumbs and happens to have a pair of anaglyph glasses lying around?
I was going to view this all like the rest of you commoners in flat 2D when I remembered that I had a copy of Batman: Arkham Asylym 3D lying around. That game has two pairs of anaglyph glasses so you can watch the Dark Knight punch out Killer Croc in more than two dimensions. And if these glasses are good enough for the Batman, then they’re good enough for Shockwave, Darkside.
And I have to say … either my eyes are broken, or the 3D thing isn’t working for me. I don’t think it’s my eyes though, since I have read 3D comics in the past. The ones that work best are the print variety, especially the non-colored simple line-art variety where there’s a red outline, a blue outline, and nothing else. Simple and effective. Even those old Valiant comics worked, but they used an entirely different system where the glasses were clear and everyone looked like they were wearing rainbow-colored tights.
It doesn’t quite work for me with Shockwave, Darkside. It works best when we’re viewing flying spacecraft, and even then only marginally so. Interior scenes that look like they should have added depth feel flat and two dimensional. I was going to blame it on “too many colors” and “screen brightness screwing with my eyes.” However, I tested the glasses out on an article about 3D comics, and it worked fine there for the most part. All in all, you get few pluses and a lot of minuses, as the word balloons are suddenly a lot more headache-inducing to read.
What the glasses do end up picking up are the colors. Several colors on the red-blue color register are suddenly more brilliant. The explosions (which happen with more frequency than a Michael Bay film) are more reddish orange. The lights on the mech forces glow red. The blue forcefields seem to shimmer against the blackness of space.
The two factions in play are our heroes, the Banished, who are religious pilgrims who have been forcibly sent to the moon; and the UnLights, who are jerks. The UnLights have superior technology, and it doesn’t look good for the Banished at all. I should point out that despite the Banished being portrayed in the prologues as a loose coalition of spiritual believers, they’re never really portrayed as such in the comic itself. They are, in fact, kinda hard to tell apart from the various space marines clogging up the video game shelves these days.
The first issue follows a doctor who accompanies the grunts in the middle of battle. It’s pretty much what you expect. Doctor is unskilled in battle and has to evade ordinance to get to his patients. It’s more or less to show off one set piece after anther. This issue also features a couple of surprising kills. It’s not that you feel for these characters; it’s more that the manner in which they’re dispatched is so over the top that you can’t help but go, “Dude! What the hell! Death by robot bees?!?!?!”
The second issue focuses on attractive women and stubbly guys taking some R & R back at home base. (I can’t help but notice how everything is filled with railings upon railings, like the comic was somehow filmed inside an abandoned brewery.) There’s a plot about how someone has been leaking information to the UnLights. This issue features the cheesiest romantic dialogue this side of Attack of the Clones:
Redhead Lady: “Then what are we fighting for?”
Mullet Man: “How about love, Brooksie?”
Redhead Lady: “Love?”
Mullet Man: “Maybe that’s what separates us from the UnLights? We’ll figure this out together.”
Oh, boy. Please tell me that Minmei shows up to sing a song so heartbreaking that the UnLights toss aside their weapons so they can have shameful, shameful cry sessions.
Nic Cage in Drive Angry