by Jake Estrada
Welcome to the third edition of Under the Net.
I will be rating the elements of the book on a scale of one through five.
One is poor, two is mediocre, three is fair, four is good, and five is excellent.
The title that I am reviewing today is Flying Sparks, and it follows the adventures of Meta-Girl and her boyfriend, Johnny. Meta-Girl is Chloe Anderson. She is hiding her secret from her lover, Johnny Benvinuti, who happens to be an under-the-radar criminal harboring his own dark secret. (He has electrical powers).
The story is written by John Del Arroz who is writing a Romeo and Juliet storyline of sorts with a superhero flare. I would say that the idea is somewhat unique in its own right as he slowly builds his universe.
The art has gone through quite a few artists, but that is fine because it is an independent web comic.
The web comic is full color, and it updates weekly on Wednesdays.
Writer of all three issues is Jon del Arroz
First issue drawn by Michael Yakutis
Art for issue two by Ren McKenzie and Sanju Nivangune
Art for issue three by Jethro Morales and Sanju Nivangune
The Art and Writing
I am going to do this part differently today because of the three different artists involved.
Issue 1 Art
The first issue was drawn by Michael Yakutis. His art style is almost like a throwback to the early 1940s comics your grandparents, or in my case, parents grew up reading. The first issue has 27 pages, and the colors were also done by Yakutis for 22 pages until Sanju Nivangune took over coloring the entire series.
Yakutis has a fine understanding of page layouts and how to compose a page. He has a good range, but some wouldn’t consider it pro level. I would not agree and say the artist is good in his own style, and the series suited him well. I was shocked to see the artist leave. I’d just say it’s not a contemporary style that must people have become accustomed to, but that’s okay. Yakutis must love Danny DeVito or that is Del Arroz because when Johnny met up with Mr. Frank over a stolen painting, I swore that was who was playing the role. By this point, it felt like I was watching a movie. The first issue art gets:
ART: 3 STARS
Issue two picks up right where the first issue left off. Chloe and Johnny have hooked up, and they are having a great stroll through the city. When I got to the second issue, I saw a dramatic change artwork wise and I was taken aback, but I understand the pressures of doing an independent comic. Artists come and go because there may be little to no money, and a creator who is only a writer has to continue to be on the lookout for another artist to pick up where the previous artist left off. This art had a much more amped up anime style compared to the first issue. It took me a few pages to get adjusted to the art, since it had that cartoony feel, but I must say it had that power of watching a cartoon on a constant move, and there were some very good panels there. For example, I liked the hulked out monster with the muscles. The sound effects and the lettering helped move the book to new levels. It brought its game up a bit higher and made for a much more compelling read. This issue gets:
ART: 3 ½ STARS
Issue 3 Art
Issue three had another change in art. This artist is the new and ongoing artist from this issue on. The artist is Jethro Morales of Hack/Slash fame, and he certainly has changed the feeling of the book. The visuals really made the art snap and pop. Many people would slobber from the mouth as they viewed this comic. If people were complaining about the art before, now they will gush over this finished product because this issue was the game changer, and it grabbed you by the throat for sure. For example, the whole scene where Johnny went out on a limb and had that huge chase with the thieves who stole Professor Fitch’s ray gun was intense and had me on the edge of my seat thinking about what was going to happen next. It made me wonder if Johnny was going to make it. I must commend Jon Del Arroz for finding Mr. Morales to do the art for his book, and it was a gem. I loved the art in this issue as it was very powerful. The art for this issue:
ART: 5 STARS
Grand Total in Art Numbers:
The author Jon Del Arroz has created a great story here, and I know he has made a fan out of me. I will keep coming back to check out this book. Right now, he is running a small contest to win one of his books and I say give it a shot and check it out. The author has gone out of his way to assemble his teams on this book and has weaved a beautiful story. The author loves his characters, and it shows with each word that is written. I respect that and I can feel it, and it has helped Del Arroz to make an original comic. I like how he has gone out of his way to create this special romance between the two lead characters Chloe and Johnny, and he has also used the May to December romance angle as Johnny is about 12 years older then Chloe. Meanwhile, Johnny is a fence selling stolen goods and Chloe’s alter ego is Meta-Girl. These two characters are keeping their dark secrets from each other and they come from different worlds. It is obvious they care for each other, and it feels very real. The author did great job in portraying these emotions, and it made me more emotionally invested in this series.
Another thing that Del Arroz certainly has a knack for is moving the story along. The pacing is great and how he executes his story pieces is also great. He doesn’t linger too long on certain things, and he knows how to play certain key elements out in following issues. For example, his character killed a key character, and later he followed it up with another character taking revenge. I enjoyed this for sure.
WRITING: 5 STARS
Flying Sparks takes the superhero angle and adds the romantic angle and throws it against the wall. I will say that Del Arroz’s test certainly worked, and he has taken the dated concept of the superhero and added his mix to the comic. I do feel it is very original in this manner. The hero Meta-Girl is a novice, so we have a different take that almost harkens back to the early Spiderman comic times when he was young and inexperienced. The character Johnny is a fence who sells stolen goods. This creates a mix of two worlds and both are holding their own secrets. This may have been done before in other comics, but most comics don’t play this angle, and it is great to read this comic with such a fresh take. I love how the layers of storytelling are at play and how past actions have consequences which make me and other readers want to come back to read more. I love how the characters are various ages, and how they all behave amongst each other. It feels like they are real people.
ORIGINALITY: 4 STARS.
Grand total: 4.3 STARS
If you like romance, action, fisticuffs, and great storylines, then this is the comic book for you. The writing is top notch and Jon Del Arroz enjoys what he is doing and has a clear passion for the craft. I want to note that the creative team has Jethro Morales on board, and he has taken the book to a whole different level. The comic was good before, but this has made the comic much richer in feeling and quality. I must admit the read is easy; it is a causal, simple comic that gives you something you rarely see in a Marvel or DC comic these days. I know I am stoked for the next installment.
I would certainly say the major con is that the art changed so much from issue to issue, and it lost its consistency. I enjoy it when certain chapters have the same artist before they change to another artist. However, I do understand the nature of the independent comic scene, and I realize the difficulty in holding onto an artist for very long. The change in artists is distracting, but it doesn’t take away from the experience. Once Jethro Morales steps up to plate, all is well. Another con is that the comic only updates once a week, and sometimes between issues they run a short parody that detracts from the story.
My Final Word
If you are into Romeo and Juliet stories, then this is the comic for you. I know I enjoyed it and will continue to check it out weekly from now on, but I hope an extra day of updates is added soon. Keep up the hard work!
The comic updates on Wednesdays. Check it out here:
Email me at email@example.com for website suggestions. Thanks.
Jake Estrada is a published author who holds degrees in Multimedia Design and Criminal Justice. He is a father to three wonderful children and married to his beautiful wife, Beth. You can find his comics at http://graphicly.com/estrada-mediaand other fine online stores.