One thing Ashley Wood and T.P. Louise’s (the team behind comics like “Popbot” and “Lore”) first issue of “Duostar Racers” makes you realize is that there is a rather wide gulf between Sequential Storytelling and Sequential Art.
As a comic book artist, Ashley Wood absolutely excels. He has a fantastic and unique style, and an impeccable sense of design. For as haphazard and loose as his brush and line work is, his design and color sense are as polished as anyone else making comics today. The covers and title pages of pretty much every book he puts out are masterpieces of contemporary design, and this premiere issue is no exception. I picked up “Cover B” (I think there are at least three), and it’s a perfect balance of slick typeface and orange/black/maroon/off-white contrast.
So, aesthetically, it’s easy to recommend. Sure, Wood’s style might not be to everyone’s taste, but if it lands for you, it lands hard and awesomely. Wood’s sense of color and design also translates, at least holistically, to the interior art. Each page is colored in a really unique and organic style, making each one look like its own hand pressed print. As a piece of visual art, this issue is without a doubt an admirable accomplishment.
But “Duostar Racers” is also clearly the first installment of a comic book story, and it here that the issue almost falls apart completely. Aside from a central discussion on the roof of a building, I found the page-to-page, panel-to-panel storytelling completely mystifying. I know that this comic is about racing, but are the two people in some kind of speed suit we are eventually shown racing down a highway using the only method of racing we’ll see? Does each alluded-to gang have their own method of travel? (That would be pretty cool.) And even these two racers we see are never shown in any kind of establishing image that would tell us exactly what these suits look like, how mechanical they are, how they actually propel someone forward, et cetera. As far as I can tell at this point, these guys use some kind of method of hyperkinetic skiing, but with rockets instead of skis. Maybe. I’m kind of forced to guess. If I look really hard, it seems like it might be guys tucked into the back of really lanky (and pretty cool looking) robots. Again, maybe.
In the past, Louise and Wood’s books have often been paced and structured to accommodate his style, featuring lots of full page static paintings, stuff like that. It’s a pretty interesting challenge to set oneself to commit to a story that’s so reliant on sequential storytelling to get across a sense of speed and scale and, at least at this point, he has a bit of a ways to go.
But, alas, I am such a tremendous fan of Wood’s overall style and I do so enjoy stuff that goes really fast, that I’ll probably end up getting every issue of this. Lets just hope it all makes a bit more sense in the end.