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Comic Review: ‘Surface Tension’ Series (#1-#5)

This week the final issue of Surface Tension was released, bringing the 5-part mini-series written and illustrated by Jay Gunn and distributed by Titan Comics to an end. As such, we wanted to reflect back on the eco-thriller that featured everything from sea-sickness water zombies, to horrifying aqua monsters, to islanders in peril.

Surface Tension Issue #4
Surface Tension Issue #4

Since our February interview with Gunn, we have gushed about the four major reasons we loved issue #1, pondered the story’s mysteries in issue #2, and commended the series for keeping us guessing even after the midway point following issue #3.

Issue #4 gave us all of the answers to our questions, and some of my own predictions ended up being correct. Without spoiling too much, the series did raise the question on who was the bigger threat to planet earth: mankind or the “monsters.” However, there were some plot points I never would have guessed. It was revealed that the “monsters” themselves had a fascinating origin story, one that, quite frankly, could very well be possible for all we know. One complaint of mine is that while the story did a good job of building up the tension (ha, no pun intended) in issues 1-3, the denoument in issue #4 was too cut and dry (not another pun, I swear). The story unfolded using too much exposition. On one hand, I appreciated that everything was made clear, on the other hand, it lacked a certain amount of drama.

Surface Tension Issue #5
Surface Tension Issue #5

Issue #5 was the grand finale. I must say, this is where the drama returned! There’s a budding love triangle that ends up being surprisingly touching and several super hero-esque battles (whose action and movement were creatively illustrated, I might add). One scene I simply adored featured Super Megumi literally having the fate of mankind in her hands, as she holds Mary in her palm and debates whether or not wiping out the humans would be the best thing for the planet. The symbolism and art work accompanied the story nicely. At the end of the issue, I really felt like there was great closure… up until the last few pages. Gunn snuck in a twist that makes you wonder whether or not mankind got a happy ending.

Overally, I enjoyed the Surface Tension series. I found the characters to be interesting and morally ambiguous, and I genuinely cared about what would happen to them. The artwork was lovely, and I particularly enjoyed the whimsy of the monsters, the selkies (sea lion/humanoid/monster creatures that I want as a pet), the coral, and the scenes of the characters’ memories. Despite the occasional bit of foul language, the violence wasn’t overtly graphic, and the story was easy to follow along, making this a series I would recommend to everyone from a middle school student to my best adult buddy.

Did you read the final issue of Surface Tension? If so, let us know what you thought! And if not, well, weigh in anyway in the comments!

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COMIC REVIEW: 21st Century Tank Girl #1

Things you need to know: Tank Girl is rude. She’s crude. She cusses. She smokes. She jokes about erections. She makes Star Trek references. She’s the most wanted outlaw in Australia and wears brown underwear. Basically, I want her to my best friend. However, her story is probably not appropriate for children, bores, or prudes. You have been warned, though if Tank Girl were real, she would never apologize for her behavior.

802f0d2d-4dc4-402e-a35f-b82e93a2bc3b21st Century Tank Girl is quite literally Tank Girl today. But let’s travel back in time to when it all started: last century, writer Alan Martin and artist Jamie Hewlett (co-producer of our favorite virtual band, Gorillaz) introduced the world to Tank Girl. Her story originated as a comic in the late 1980s and was even turned into a movie in 1995! Flash forward to June 10, 2015: she’s back with a new series of anarchic adventures brought to us by Titan Comics, Martin, Hewlett, and a slew of other artists and collaborators.

Issue #1 was a smorgasbord of her escapades, including a space exploit with a fun twist about the lengths Tank Girl will go to in order to achieve personal greatness; a bloody war story told primarily through onomatopoeias; a game show for death row inmates, where the winner gets a reduced sentence of life in prison… if she can avoid Zombie Hitler; and character spotlights highlighting adventures with friends.
166ae34b-aed4-4cf3-b4e2-940588e5cd7dThe art, like the stories, is also varied. With each new artist and collaborator comes a unique visual take on Tank Girl. In some stories, the panels are colored more vibrantly in deep, rich hues, like the fun and whimsy of a punk-rocker’s mohawk. Others are splashes of orange and red, making the reader feel she’s under a heat lamp during a dire situation. All of the styles are eye-catching, captivating, and fun. Still, amidst all the changes, Tank Girl continues to be very much herself: strong, tough, and a survivor.

As someone who was unfamiliar with Tank Girl prior, I thought 21st Century Tank Girl was a great introduction to a spunky and exciting character, and I can’t wait to see what kind of mischief she gets into next. Be sure to pick up a copy of 21st Century Tank Girl at your local comic book story, and keep an eye out for issue 2, which will be released by Titan Comics on July 8, 2015.

21st Century Tank Girl #1
Story By​: Alan Martin
Art By: ​Jamie Hewlett, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Philip Bond, Jonathan Edwards, Brett Parson, Jim Mahfood, Craig Knowles
32​pp​ / FC / $3.99 / on sale: June 10

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Comic Review: Surface Tension #1 by Jay Gunn

Surface Tension #1, the first issue in a 5 part sci-fi/horror/adventure mini-series created by Jay Gunn and published by Titan Comics, debuts today and there are 4 major reasons I love it:

4) THE TITLE!

thumbnailThe title “Surface Tension is perfect because it cleverly, succinctly, and accurately describes the story in two-folds. First, there is literally tension on the surface of the British channel island of Breith as the townsfolk strain to rebuild and survive after a strange “sea-sickness” causes the majority of the world’s population to make a zombie-esque mecca into the ocean. Things get stranger when a year later two people return from the ocean, with teal skin and no memory of what has happened. This turn of events leads to confusion on the island, as the townspeople try to figure out what is happening.

Second, in its most basic definition, the scientific term “surface tension” is described as an effect where the surface of a liquid is strong. Going further, it is a “property of the surface of a liquid that allows it to resist an external force.” Did you ever do the experiment where you put drops of water on a penny, expecting to see water splash about, only to find it forms a bubble or “skin” of water on good ol’ Honest Abe’s face? Surface tension! It seems the title is also hinting at the strength and power of the mystery in the sea, and the way it which it has changed the people who are returning from its watery depths.

3) THE SUSPENSE!

Issue #1 is filled with quandaries that left me scratching my head and anxiously turning the page looking for answers: What caused the sea-sickness? Why are people returning now? Is this deliverance? Should they be quarantined? These are the questions our characters begin asking one another, and it’s completely in line with what the reader is pondering also. Additionally, the first issue ends with a major cliff-hanger, and it looks like things are about to get more dangerous for the people of Breith. I can not wait to see what happens next!

2) THE CHARACTERS!

10369594_589420794518003_5156077523524982521_nI am a young 20-something blessed to be living in a diverse, metropolitan city where I have friends of all walks of life: varying age groups, ethnicities, and socio-economic backgrounds. However, rarely is that kind of diversity present in literature. In graphic novels, it’s nearly non-existent. (I will save that rant for another day.) However, Gunn does an excellent job of capturing layered and diverse characters, without relying on stereotypes or clichés.

I am particularly pleased that two of the main characters in the first issue are women. First we have Mary: a former nurse, quasi-new-age meditating hippie, and caring problem-solver whose instinct is to help others in her community. Then we have Megumi, a former biologist and environmentalist who has experienced horror and loss, and is one of the first people to return from the sea. The women are different ages and ethnicities, but their commitment to figuring out what it going on unites them, and the two clearly care for one another and rely on each other. Gunn has hinted that Mary and Megumi’s ideologies are different, and that may create conflict between the two later. However, for now, their interaction is real and genuine.

Side note: I also love that while there is nudity in the novel (like when Megumi’s nude body emerges from the ocean), the women are not overtly sexualized. Marvel and DC definitely have a thing or two to learn from Gunn on how to appropriately draw women!

1) THE AUTHOR!

In February, GeekGirl World had the opportunity to chat with writer and author Jay Gunn about his life, his work, and zombies (naturally). We were all completely enchanted by his eloquent and thoughtful responses, and I remember very vividly thinking, “If his writing and art are anything like his interview, Surface Tension will be amazing.” I am so glad to report that the first issue was just as beautiful (both in text and in art) as I hoped it would be. I will continue to follow Gunn’s work on his Facebook page, and look forward to reading the rest of the series via Titan Comics. Surface Tension #1 debuts today, and I urge you all to support Gunn’s work by purchasing a copy.

SURFACE TENSION #1
WRITER/ARTIST: Jay Gunn
PUBLISHER: Titan Comics
ISSUES IN SERIES: 1 (OF 5)
PAGE-COUNT: 40pp
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE DATE: May​ 27

 

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