By Levi Remington
My first foray into Action Lab Comics began with Dollface, a book that I only started reading very recently. Catching up with the series has been a particularly shallow type of fun. It's an astoundingly easy read (it's almost more tiring to not read the book) and the art is wonderfully stylish, but its nonstop adherence to stereotypical cheesecake and predictably juvenile humor kept the story from reaching any noteworthy heights.
The second arc began this week, and I was surprised by how toned down it was compared to the first. Maybe the lack of Zombie Tramp is going to let this book flourish into something of its own. There's a noticeable reduction in sexual angles on Lila. It sounds kind of ridiculous, but I counted only one minuscule underskirt/panty-shot, which is a marked improvement over the blatant fan-service of previous issues (perhaps a disappointment to some). Another welcome change is the lack of Ivan perversely drooling over some woman's body. Maybe it's just me, but whether it's in anime or manga or whatever, I hardly find that sort of thing funny. I'm not offended by any means, it just comes off as low-brow, low-effort humor that – in my opinion – can only feasibly cater to horny teenage boys. It's not realistic, and I don't think it's trying to be, but it's also not exaggerated to any extent that it becomes humorous, or expanded upon in any novel way. It's a tired gag that was overused in the first arc, and it does nothing but demolish any depth to the characters. I'm happy to see it's gone for now.
This issue finds the gang taking a portal to LA to visit Em's girlfriend, Paige – a new character that gives off some mysterious vibes. Though on the way, Lila and Ivan trail off in search of a witch and find themselves at a Plan B clinic. I won't spoil what happens here, but suffice it to say it's pretty ridiculous, a little humorous, and reliably fun.
I enjoy the dialogue between characters, and am starting to get a good feel for their individual personalities. I also like where the story appears to be heading, in that it's mostly unclear. What really continues to be consistently excellent about this series, however, is Dan Mendoza's art. He has a phenomenal grasp on his characters. He does great work with expressions and movement, conveying a dynamic energy that communicates so much feeling and motion. The paneling is pretty simple, but the wide format and reduced number of panels per page suits the art very well. Valentina Pucci's colors are responsible for bringing the art to life, enhancing scenes with choice lighting and a vibrant palette. It all comes together to create a clean, stylish, animated aesthetic that compliments the series very well.
A solid beginning to the new arc. A reduction in juvenile humor and unnecessary ogling makes this appetizing cheesecake much easier to swallow.
Created & Story by Dan Mendoza & Bryan Seaton
Scripted & Art by Dan Mendoza
Colors by Valentina Pucci
Lettered by Adam Wollet
Published by Action Lab - Danger Zone