Thursday, July 5, 2012

WGTB reviews HardWear #3

HardWear #3 by Toronto-based publisher Uysfaber was released this Wednesday in select comic shops throughout Southern Ontario (Canada). Pronounced 'Ace-Faber' the company first came to my attention when I visited a well known Toronto comics shop last summer, but it was only recently that I've been able to sample one of their titles. Being a long-time Kraftwerk and Bladerunner fan, it was Rebecca Slack's sleek and electric cover that got me. 

Uysfaber's HardWear #3 (July 2012) contains two seperate stories. The first N.C.D.J was written by Scott Johnson with art by John "DK" Kartigan, letters by Branson Destefano and edits by Andrew Uys. The second story Spectrum: Proof was written by Aaron Feldman with art by Rebecca Slack, letters by Anisa Nixon and edits Sarah Overall. Rebecca Slack also did the cover art. $3.50
HardWear takes place in a cyberpunk infused corporation-ruled dystopia called Winn City. The comic itself contains two separate yet related stories and tells the tale of people trying to protest, avoid and combat the nefarious powers-that-be in this bleak and violent electronically-fused future.
It's a bleak future set out in HardWear #3.
The artwork for the most part was very good. Drawn by two different artists with noticeable differences in styles, each story had its strengths. The first story, N.C.D.J., had a good unrefined look and the black and white really worked with the dark and futuristic theme of the overall story. The above image is a great example.

The second story Spectrum: Proof's art, while not being as strong overall, had my favourite panel of the book and periodically surpassed the previous story's images. For example, I just loved these somewhat cleaner and slightly more accessible panels: 

HardWare in places was difficult to follow and both stories required multiple reads. Again, this is often the case with new comics where I'm not overly familiar with the characters and the universe they inhabit. Jumping in at the third issue didn't help either.

But this fact underscores a must for comics from smaller publishers: a quick previous plot synopsis on the inner cover or splash. Just a paragraph would have been enough to give me the background needed to enjoy the book more. 

The story was thought provoking and provided good value for the money. It wasn't a fun comic book per se, but this genre rarely is. That said, I am curious to see what happens in Winn City next month and because of that I'm giving it a favourable review and will keep an eye on Uysfaber's future publications.  3.5/5 STARS 

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