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03 March 2006 @ 07:47 pm
Review: Concrete: Strange Armor TPB  
I was at my local library, looking through the trade paperbacks there and deciding which ones to borrow. I spotted a Concrete story and thought it sounded fascinating. It occured to me to check all of them first and see which one to read first. I found Strange Armor which is the story of Concrete's origin and figured that may be the one to borrow.

{With thanks to comicpriceguide.com for the image}

Writer/Artist: Paul Chadwick

Interior Colors: Chris Chalenor

Lettering: Bill Spicer

This is the sad, painful, emotional tale of Concrete and his struggle to deal with a new life. Ron Lithgow wanted to experience nature at its finest while hiking in the wild of Sierra Nevada. He discovered something else entirely. Something that changed his existence. When he re-emerged from the wilderness, he was a changed man. He had became Concrete. But it wasn't a willing change. This is his story.

I love it when people who are both artists and writers create their own story and art for it. It makes their vision so much more translatable into a comic. The story is emotionally provoking and very heartwarming. It's a pleasant surprise to see a comic successfully have a good non-superhero story. Concrete may be stronger, bigger and have better vision than most average humans, but this isn't a story about what he can do, but rather who he is.

The artwork is amazing. I wasn't expecting such imaginative panels. The perspective is done well, so well that it emphasises the size of Concrete. In a party scene, there's a lot going on on one page, but I love it like that because it's a party. Lots and lots of things happen at once at a party which is shown on the page.

The interior colours are done beautifully, in a style that matches the feel of the comic. Certain panels have shades of one colour to enhance the the scenery around them, such as the sun setting and reflecting on the characters. I like how the characters are given realistic tones. The coloring seems very simple and effective compared to most modern comics which use a lot of computer generated coloring and inking.

The lettering isn't the usual comic font, but it's still readable which I consider important, more important than how the font looks. I like the choice because again, it suits the style of the comic.

The trade paperback has an introduction to the comic by Paul Chadwick. He discusses how he came up with the story of Concrete and what the comic is essentially all about. It even has a brief history of Concrete as well which is appropriate for the trade paperback as it's all about his origin. Chadwick also talks about inspirations for characters and stories. It also includes a small section on the publishing history of Concrete.

There are also some amusing parody ads with some classic covers including Superman and the Fantastic Four. A Concrete backlist of other stories are collected at the back as well. It's a trade paperback that is definitely worth getting, not just for the story and art, but for the human response to Concrete.
Cthulhu Bunnyphraktalsnipe on April 10th, 2006 10:13 pm (UTC)
Sweet review! I've talked to you a few times in comic-scans on IRC (cthulhu-bunny). Glad to see you're still going strong. If you ever want to submit some reviews to our website let me know.. We have a small, dedicated staff of writers who contribute articles and reviews, but could always use some more talent - It would certainly be refreshing to get a female perspective on the staff ;)