Pullbox Reviews: Freaky Tales #1- A monster kicking, kaiju slaying anthology from Evoluzione Publishing

Fresh off of a successful Kickstarter campaign (and yes, I’m not just a reviewer… I’m also a backer), this anthology series from Evoluzione is a mixed bag in a couple different ways. The stories being told are just about as different as they can be, which is pretty much in keeping with the indie publisher’s style as their titles cover pretty much every genre you can think of. The first story in the opening issue of Freaky Tales #1 is Three Thorns, an action fantasy that carries more than a little manga DNA in its style of writing & art. Titanium Blade, also manga-influenced, is a science fiction action story centered on mech versus kaiju combat.

In Three Thorns, the title characters are sisters living a life of action on behalf of their father. Sent out into the world to develop their combat skills, each sister follows her own path (or for the gamers out there, character class). Cayla is the straight forward barbarian brawler, her massive sword & massiver… muscles… carving a path through her enemies with savage glee. Gala follows the path of the martial artist, her fists & feet of chi powered fury a blur of motion. Seyelia wields the power of magic, weaving spells & casting fiery destruction at anyone who gets in her way.

I never got much into manga because it tends to get a little carried away with the dialogue for my taste. I prefer to follow along in a story, learning as I go without too much reliance in exposition. In Three Thorns, some of the dialogue leans a little too heavily, for my taste, into telling everything about the characters and the motivations that drive them. Also, the foreshadowing was laid on a little thick as I thought it revealed too much, too soon. Guido Martinez does a fair job representing the three sisters & their different, manga-tropic personalities as he introduces his characters. I’d just hope for a little more of a balanced approach as the story progresses.

Visually, Three Thorns is impressive as the art by Torn-S dives into the manga aesthetic with enthusiasm. The action is well done & the panel layouts do a great job of creating a frenzied look once the fighting starts. The only real question is, in the fury of battle… how do these girls keep their tops on? I get it, there’s a demographic out there itching for this kind of eye-candy, but there are plenty of readers out there who’ve made it past puberty okay and don’t need quite so much cheesecake (the adolescent me who my wife swears is still there, lurking, is probably having fits at that statement). With obvious artistic talents on display, Torn-S doesn’t have to rely on fluff & implied jiggles to attract a reader.

The second story, Titanium Blade, follows a rebellion struggling to overthrow an alien occupation of Earth. While much of the human race has been subjugated & enslaved, a band of renegades hunt for a way to use the advanced alien tech against their self-declared overlords. With the freedom of the human race on the line, and a force using giant mechs & monsters to keep them down, it’ll take courage and ingenuity to regain independence.

A little more my style of story, Titanium Blade moved along with a better pace. After a brief introduction showcasing the cruelty of the alien occupying force, we’re dropped right into a high speed chase that starts to show the personalities of a couple of our main characters. Marcel Dupree & Joshua Metzger let some of the action carry the narrative, a solid choice given the shortened nature of a story in an anthology book. While there’s still a lot to learn about this world, I personally prefer being able to pick details up as we go.

Shifting between cold alien habitats and rubble-strewn city streets, Metteo Leoni captures the look and feel of a gritty sci fi world. The color palettes are muted, showing a more dingy environment than might usually be seen in a comic. Between that and a good use of layouts, Titanium Blade is bringing a broken world to the page.

In a market flooded with superheroes & sci fi, Marcel Dupree and his creative group of ne’er-do-wells don’t focus on a single type or style of story. Instead of “less is more”, the Evoluzione philosophy seems to be “screw that, more is more!” Even where some of the results are a bit uneven, what’s great is that they’re pushing boundaries & taking chances. More than that, they’re giving creators the chance to stretch their legs and grow. Sure, Freaky Tales has room to improve, but if I didn’t think it had the potential to do so I probably wouldn’t have typed up this review.

Final Score: 8 (of 13)

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