In Review: Bad Reception #1

If you think there's nothing new in comics, you need to make a connection with this book.

The covers: There are two covers to get on the tense beginning to this tale. The Regular cover features a wedding cake surrounded by a hundred cellphones that are not getting service. The cake is being cut in half, separating the bride and groom, and lavish amount of blood sprays from the open wound at the top that trickles down each tier. The background is black with red highlighting the top of the phones. Excellent cover from Juan Doe. The Variant cover is by Paul Azaceta and features a skeleton wearing a sleeveless white wedding dress that’s speckled with blood. She’s (It’s?) holding a bouquet of dead flowers that contain several cellphones that can’t get service. The bones are on a black background with a red hashtag that is dripping on the ebony. Very nice. Overall grades: Both A

The story: This is literally a one man show by Juan Doe who writes, illustrates, and letters this issue. The first ten pages is a conversation on a talk show hosted by Seth Freidkin who’s interviewing Blaise Bordeaux-Davis. The guest is there to discuss his book #Hastag Off the Grid: How to Unplug From Social Media and Connect to Your Primal Self. The author proposes that the internet is too negative and is used to enlarge the pockets of advertisers rather than uplift humanity through communication. He proposes that people go offline. This comes off as ironic since he’s soon to marry Gaia, “superstar actor, singer, champion of a number of causes, and incidentally the most followed human being on social media.” Bordeaux-Davis said that she’s chosen to go offline for their marriage, and so have their guests: no photos or broadcasts of their nuptials. The next fourteen pages follow the bride and groom as they jet around the world to invite friends and family. This may not sound scary at all, which makes the covers seem as though they were not appropriate for the story, but one needs only look at the bottom of each of these pages to read a parallel story that I’ll not spoil. Suffice to say, someone is doing something in the woods and it’s not pretty. What this has to do with the famous couple that’s placed the internet aside isn’t yet revealed, but it’s enough of a violent and terrible tease to make their invitations to loved ones unquestionably tainted. I’m definitely on board for more of this. Overall grade: A

The art and colors: I have become a tremendous fan of Juan Doe’s visuals based on his other AfterShock work. I really enjoyed the visuals on this book. The dialogue that opens this book is composed of dialogue balloons colored green and orange for each speaker. This dialogue sits atop a black background with a red streak that widens with each turn of the page. The streak has flecks of red that have splattered out from this red line that increase until the source of this crimson splash is revealed on 8 and 9. A small object on the latter page receives a gradual close-up on 10 to show something isn’t working. This is an excellent image, given the conversation that’s been occurring. This is followed by a full-paged splash on 11 that shows the next EP that Gaia is releasing. It is very stylized and looks like an ad out of a fashion magazine. The pages that follow feature Gaia and Blaise inviting their friends in different locales. The couple is perfect looking with each incredibly modern and stylish. The images at the bottom of the 12 – 15 are a cinematic opening to a very different setting, focusing on a specific character in the final panel on the far right of 15. The colors of the sky tease what this individual is soon to encounter. I love the gray skies of New York City that show how this murky city comes off. Meanwhile, the bottom panels have something horrific happen. A bulky friend is encountered on 18, and a large character of a very different nature is revealed at the bottom of 19. The smile that ends the conversation with the large man in the second rows of panels on 21 is in complete opposition of the seventh panel that runs at the bottom. I love the design of the large man on 22 and the using photographs to show where the couple is next headed is neat. I loved the greens for the outdoor setting on 24 and the oranges for the family member on 25 taints this character wonderfully. The final page is a full-paged splash showing two objects that represent the couple covered in blood. I need more of this now! Overall grade: A

The letters: A transmission and dialogue (the same font), telephone text, an EP cover, Instagram text, scene settings, sounds, a handwritten page, and book cover’s text are also created by Juan Doe. Every element of this writing is easy to read and the variety of fonts makes the objects shown that sport text real. I like the cellphone text and Instagram posting that look as though they could appear on anyone’s phone. The transmission and character dialogue are the same font, differed only by the balloons and colors that contain them. I would have preferred to have them in different fonts, with the interview transmission in italics, making it a classical comic book broadcast. The scene settings are incredibly stylish and just look flat out cool. The handwritten page is not in handwriting, which suits the age of the writer. The book cover shown on the final page resembles a publication one would find in any book store. Overall grade: A-

The final line: The message is clear: trouble is coming. The stage is set, the characters are introduced, the setting established, and the antagonist violently teased. The premise is incredibly topical and the visuals are striking for their design and colors. If you think there’s nothing new in comics, you need to make a connection with this book. Overall grade: A

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Bad-Reception-1/digital-comic/793353?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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