Evil Geek Book Report – Indie Spotlight: Doctor Atlantis Vol. 1 & 2
Hey now Evil Geeks, believe it or not, we nefarious denizens of the Evil Lair actually manage to drag ourselves away from the big name, capes and tights books every now and then to take a look at an up and coming indie book. Today we shine the Indie Spotlight (it doubles as a Bat-Signal on the weekends) on Rare Earth Comics seafaring, steam punk, action/adventure title Doctor Atlantis, written by Ian Ally-Seals with art by Carl Mefferd. Caution: this review will contain light-moderate to heavy amounts of swashbuckling!
Ian was nice enough to provide me with a copy of Volumes 1 & 2 of Doctor Atlantis and I tore right through both tomes in two sittings less than 12 hours apart. The story revolves around Doctor Fowler and his sidekick Chosot, a young boy from a tribe known as the Tlotlin. Fowler and Chosot pilot a technologically advanced ship called the Atlantis. The ship is fully automated in every way and even catches fish from the ocean then serves them for dinner. Fowler has *ahem* “relieved” the British Navy of the ship, back when he used to be a member of said Navy, but now finds himself on the run from them as a wanted criminal. The Atlantis was designed by Fowler so he knows all of it’s ins and outs. All of the ships actions are controlled through musical commands that are played by Fowler through a flute he carries with him. the ship is so advanced that it can even retract it’s sails and dive like a submarine. It’s the Bat-Mobile of the Seven Seas! The book begins with Fowler finding Chosot drifting at sea, on the verge of death and about to be eaten by some nasty crab monster . Fowler manages to rescue Chosot and bring him back to the Atlantis, but unfortunately for them the crab monster wasn’t alone and he even brought a big brother with him. Fowler uses the Atlantis to make quick work of the monsters and the book follows Fowler and Chosot on their adventures after that. Ranging from rescuing Chosot’s people from a tribe of vicious slavers, to a final showdown with the English Navy, led by the unctuously evil Captain Archibald Cumberland and his right hand man, Harker. Fowler used to serve under Cumberland and let’s just say their parting left some unresolved issues between Fowler, Cumberland and Harker, which Cumberland is determined to settle at all costs. Cumberland is a fittingly nasty villain for this tale as his and Fowler’s pasts are revealed in flashbacks during Volume 2.
The overall dynamic between Fowler and Chosot lies somewhere between Doctor Who with one of his companions and that of The Green Hornet with Kato. Fowler is kind of an arrogant know it all, but throughout the course of both volumes the conclusions he jumps to and the resulting actions he takes are completely wrong more often than not. In the first issue, during one of many of Fowler’s soliloquys (he tends to speak to himself quite frequently. In long, ample, ambling, alliterative asides), Fowler goes on a rant about how “that Italian” (I’m assuming he means Columbus) is a fool for thinking he can sail AROUND the world. Fowler is supposed to be this worldy, knowledgeable master of the sea, but somehow actually is believer in a flat Earth?!?! I thought that was a weird character choice, but hey I’ve never fought giant sea beasts before, so I guess I can cut Fowler some slack. Fowler handles himself well in fights for the most part, but can be equally dubious with a sword as he is with wits at times. Chosot saves his ass several times across the seven issues contained in the volumes, but Fowler still treats Chosot like he’s just some ignorant islander. He gives him a lot of “Oh, you foolish boy,” type of lines and kind of forces the English language on him. Chosot calls him out on that at one point, saying he’s learned English faster than Fowler has learned his language, to which Fowler’s response is to get flustered and walk away with a “harumph”. When Fowler rescues Chosot, he just assumes that Chosot will be traveling with him on his boat from now on. It’s almost more of a kidnapping than a rescue. Something I really enjoyed about the book though was the liberal use of monstrous sea behemoths. Several times in the story Fowler and company must do battle with gargantuan creatures and even manage to use one the size of an island to their advantage in their battle with the Navy. Ever since I saw my first Godzilla movie as a kid, I’ve dug giant monsters so they are a welcome addition to this book (come to think of it, they’re a welcome addition in any book!). I’d love to see more monsters in Fowler and Chosot’s future adventures aboard the Atlantis, maybe even get some back story on where these massive beasts are coming from. In the end though, Fowler truly is the hero of the book and saves the day for Chosot’s people. He’s honorable, smart, and can fight, but he’s not perfect, which makes him endearing as a character.
Carl Mefferd’s artwork really worked for me in this book; the black and white is perfect for a story like this. It’s a very pulp-like story, so the art gives it a retro feel like an older book or even something from an underground comic ‘zine from the 80’s. Mefferd draws some great full-page panels that really capture the size and ferocity of the monsters. As much as I liked Mefferd’s artwork on this title, there’s one notion that I got into my head while I was reading that I couldn’t shake for the entire book. This is my own personal opinion, so take it for what it’s worth: I think both the artwork and the story would benefit greatly from adding some more humor to the title. Mefferd does a great job handling the action, but I think he could hit a home run with some work in a comedic medium. He has a knack for drawing facial expressions that I think would be perfectly at home in a “funny” book. The same goes for Ally-Seals’ Fowler; he spends the book alternating between being wise and sagely, like a Doctor Who type, and being a pompous jerk. If Ally-Seals were to take him more in that comedic direction, this book would be a monthly can’t miss. Read Fowler’s dialogue while in your head envisioning the lines being read by Will Ferrell and you’ll see what I mean (Also, option this for a movie, then cast Ferrell as Fowler and you my friend, will have box office gold!).
One piece of art from the book that I thought was really cool was the cross-cut diagram of the Atlantis, showing the inner workings of the ship. It reminded me of when the big name companies would throw stuff like that in at the end of a book; maybe a cut away of Avengers mansion, or a diagram of the guts of the Bat-Mobile. The drawing of the ships innards would make a great poster!
Oveverall I did enjoy Doctor Atlantis, but I think with a little tweaking, it can be honed into something greater. With a few more issues under the belt and a little fleshing out of the story, I think this could be a sold title, but it’s got a little ways to go before it’s there. Volume 1 can be picked up for $9.99 at the Rare Earth shop and I believe Volume 2 will also be available shortly. If you’re up for action, adventure, and cool steam-powered gadgetry, then check out Doctor Atlantis from Rare Earth Comics at Rareearthcomics,com! Thanks again to Ian Ally-Seals for reaching out to The Brotherhood of Evil Geeks and sharing his work with us! Until next time Evil Geeks, stay Evil, stay Geeky, and keep your nose in the funny books!
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Posted on February 10, 2013, in COMICS!, Evil Geek Book Report, Indie Spotlight, Reviews and tagged Doctor Atlantis, Evil Geek Book Reports, Indie Spotlight, Rare Earth Comics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.