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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Anomaly (Graphic Novel) (Science Fiction)

By:  Skip Brittenham & Brian Hablerlin

Publisher: Anomaly Publishing; Box edition (November 28, 2012)

Hardcover 370 pages

Finished 5/7/2017

Amazon Listing

          Anomaly is a large scale graphic novel that comes with an app of fully voiced interactive graphic novel, a background to the universe app, and apparently has been options for a film by Relativity Media- who must have been looking for derivative properties.
          The book is massive, some might think it unwieldy, 16.5 x 1.5 x 11.5 inches, stretched out into a rectangle to give it a widescreen cinematic feel. And while I may complain it is not a cheap product. Time and care was put into it, and the publisher made sure that enough space was given to make sure that a story of such scope was done right. That’s the real tragedy of this book, it could have been amazing.
          The art is the best thing about the book, but even that feels a little lacking in originality. You can tell that a lot of care was taken here. It is painted with computer graphic enhancements. The best scenes being panoramic shots of alien worlds and vistas depicting a massive battle. They are beautifully rendered and detailed, giving a massive scope to the stage. While the illustrators do make errors here and there in terms of pacing and action.

          The alien races, animals, and landscapes are good, but the humans are weak. Painted in an uninteresting style and without much distinction. Several of them look so much alike, that I confused a minor character with the hero. And, as often as not, a character will disappear for fifty pages then return, and they were so bland it took me awhile to remember which character they were again.
          Anomaly, art aside, doesn’t have a very compelling story. It mashes up old sci-fi and fantasy tropes to attempt a catch-all experience, but ultimately feels like a lackluster hodgepodge of the two genres. The author forgot the basic rules of writing, if you’re offering nothing new in the setting then you’ve got to have engrossing characters, which they author also failed to do.
          We have our intrepid protagonists abandoned on a primitive planet, where a fungus eats polymers use in technology, by an evil all-controlling conglomerate corporation. Earth has been evacuated due to environmental poisoning and only the very poor are left to wallow in its filth. The conglomerate expands onto other planets by suppressing the native species, either through relocation or extermination. Anomaly is the planet the protagonists are stranded on, dubbed so because it hosts numerous sentient races co-existing in it. Odd as usually one species usually rises up to club the others out of existence.
          Once they reach the planet the story delves then into fantasy, and we are given the standard cast of characters. The chosen-one hero who destined to destroy the evil-one and unite the races of the planet. The privileged woman, who dislikes the hero at first but eventually comes around to admire him.  The bald, fat, and cowardly Dr. Smith type. The betrayer character who regrets his decisions in the end. The magic using evil Sauron character who commands armies of hideous monstrous creatures (ugly = evil). The scientist who is considered puny by the locals, but wins them over with technological skill and invention. The warrior woman who becomes attracted to the scientist despite her thinking him “weak” at first. The important alien that the hero meets and frees (like the mouse taking the thorn from the lion’s paw fable) only to have his input be very very important in getting his race to decide to join the hero’s cause.
          And so on. None of the character’s personalities go beyond this. I’ve read it all before and so have you.
          There are extensive notes after the story, taking up 30 of the 370 pages on the human race and the development of the future society of Earth, much having little to do with the main story on Anomaly. There are several graphs and charters about the races which may be of some interest and character biographies that add detail, but don’t have any impact on what’s happening. And often enough you just don’t give a damn. It’s quite clear that a lot of time was spent developing this background, when they should have directed their efforts to character development.

           For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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