If you follow our group reviews you’ll know that we don’t just cover big issue releases. We like to throw in independent titles here and there and that’s exactly what we have today. Mixing it up even further is the fact that it’s an all-ages title. With all group reviews the writer/reviews of Comic Bastards will give the book a score of: Buy, Borrow or Pass and then follow with a short reason why they chose their score. Here’s a quick blurb from Amigo Comics about the issue: Lovecraft for Kids! The Cthulhu Mythos for the whole family! Join Doctor Ment and his faithful companion Harry Callahan in the fight against 'The Things That Go 'Boo' In The Night'! Many ancient artifacts of the Dread Xulu and other Elder Beings are lost, and if Ment and Callahan don't retrieve them, the evil minions of the evilness will do it!
The cartoonish styling of the illustrations on this book tips you off that this is one that never takes itself seriously—and that’s what makes it a hoot to read. The nods to HP Lovecraft are all there (including a cameo by him, too). If you played some of the old Lucas Arts games of the 90’s like Grim Fandango or Sam and Max, you will eat up every page of this supernatural mystery.
A dark force known as the Order of the Tentacle looks to take over the world. Dr. Ment and his crew stand in its way. While not a keeper, the goofy-fun tone of the book makes it a great little diversion.
Taking a glimpse at the cover, I figured this book would be an enjoyable, easy-to-follow, mindless book. Unfortunately, I was extremely wrong. This whole issue looked like it was a college kid’s bad acid trip threw up onto 32 pages. The story was forgettable and incredibly disjointed, all the jokes were cringe-worthy, not to mention I found multiple errors (my favorite was “He made us to serve jello to the patients with seizures.”). I know this comic isn’t trying to take itself seriously, but you still need to have solid writing to keep people’s interest, or it just comes off as annoying. I feel bad for Dustin since he has to write-up the synopsis for this mess…I couldn’t care less to read this over again and actually summarize what happened. It jarringly cuts back and forth between poorly developed characters and bizarre happenings without warning. Needless to say, the surprises aren’t pleasant ones.
Kevin R: BORROW
What we’ve got here is a totally adequate kid’s comic. The Arcane Boys: Junior Samples Junior is a light, fun adventure story that dives into mythology in ways that would give even Mike Mignola nightmares. Angel D. Svoboda is both the writer and the artist, and while the art is bright, colorful, and often times really excellent, the story kind of stumbles. To be fair, it’s a foreign book, and although the translation is fantastic the jokes were probably not meant to ring true to an English-speaking audience either way.
As an adult, I honestly found the whole thing boring. Lovecraftian horror is something that has been explored for pretty much every audience at this point, and the jokes really don’t ring very true for me. But I bet if you give it to a kid, they’ll eat it up.
Arcane Secrets is quite a cute comic. Getting into the art isn’t hard with its bright colors, dorky little characters, and whimsical creatures. It is getting into the story where I find this comic a little rough. The base line revolves around a mystery which is cute and very Scooby like. You have the bad guys vs. the good guys all after this mysterious tentacle. It was hard for me to jump into this story because the switches happened so fast between the two groups that I never really got involved with what was happening. I also didn’t really understand it until halfway through.
I picked a “borrow”, because this issue doesn’t have a strong beginning for me. I do want to continue with this comic though. It has a certain childhood feel to it. The cuteness of it is just addicting and I think once this comic gets off its feet it will have a very sweet read to it.
There seems to be this weird, rabid demand for so-called “all-ages” books; not from kids, mind you, but parents. Not having kids, I couldn’t care less about these titles, since despite being for “all-ages,” they usually are most decidedly not. Take Arcane Secrets #1, for example. I enjoy the “Lovecraft Babies: Challengers of the Unknown” premise at the heart of this book, but unless you’re extremely young and/or worryingly-easily amused, then nothing within this book is going to appeal. In its defense, it appears to have been translated into English, which may account for the regularly tangential storytelling and oddly-paced writing. The art is simple enough and fun, I guess, but I doubt it’ll be impressive to anyone over the age of reason. Save this for a really basic distraction for your kids if you have them.
The art style of this book screams out to me. I like it a lot since it resembles old cartoons in both design and fashion. It looks great, but the art does not save the story. The problem with the book is that it’s geared towards kids. I don’t mean that its all-ages, I mean it’s written for children. That’s not bad, but for an adult reader it makes for a tough read. I’m actually curious to see where the series goes from here, but it was rough start. I’m guessing that Dr. Ment is a main character, but he didn’t really come off as such. The villains were perfectly ridiculous, but there seemed to be a lot of them. I’ll be back for a second issue, but if you don’t have a kid to share this with then you’re better off on just borrowing it if your curiosity gets the better of you.
Score: Borrow or Pass it’s up to you!
Writer/Artist/Creator: Angel A. Svoboda
Translator: Rafael Nieves
Publisher: Amigo Comics
Release Date: 8/28/13