|A review of 'Shifters'
by Kajamir the Giant
(review will contain spoilers)
Where do I begin? Shifters is... a decent comic, but not anything better than that, sadly. I find I will continue to read it, but it won't be something I go out of my way for, in terms of what I will read first of my webcomic selections.
It wobbingly follows the blatantly White Wolf derived plot of some zooanthropes, or wereshifters, told mainly through learning of their own natures and mythology, with a sprinkling of contemporary scenarios. The speed of this comic varies a bit, to being truly slow at the start, picking up speed, and then carrying a truly long battle sequence. This is not a bad thing, I think, but it does lend an uneven quality. This is supported by the odd facets of quirky humor, to total seriousness for great stretches of time.
One cannot escape the copious amount of references being thrown at the reader. From the Team Rocket-like Vampire Squad with the leader of it being a Sephiroth knock-off in appearance, to the extensive use/fundamental basis of the White Wolf mythos, to the Kazuya (Tekken) hair styled bear shifter, it gets to be a little too much after a while. In some ways, it feels the comic caters more towards the anime-ish tastes of the creators, than a stand alone story and style. It's tolerable, but not something too admirable, like a chef putting too much pepper in a casserole. Enough, we can taste it already!
The art is passable. For the most part, it's cute, clean, and reasonably well styled at times. However, it is clearly americanized manga, not so much directly emulated japanese manga, the former which in my mind, carries a rather inferior look to it. I would also state, the B/W art looks much better than the on/off mediocre coloring. When it becomes B/W, you can see more art technique applied and the quality seems to increase to regular manga at times. But alas, it is not maintained. I should also like to add, at the beginning, the art is particularly sloppy every two pages or so, but this vanishes after a chapter or two.
The characters are fairly developed, though no award winners amongst them. Unfortunately, they do become confusing, at least at the beginning, to tell one from another. The anime styled hair and the jumping around of the plot, can make their stories, let alone identities, very difficult to follow. I'm all for many characters in a story, and while this doesn't touch anywhere near The Story of Genji, the characters that are presented here are simply not organized well at all.
A final, and truly unacceptable flaw of this comic, is particularly towards the beginning, the lettering is a nightmare; dare I say it, unreadable. It's squished, it's dark, I couldn't make it out in general.
The best part about Shifters, maybe even the only one, is the action scenes, which are pulled off very excitingly. From the whole train incident with the vandals and the otherwise ridiculous Vamp Squad, to the lengthy Were-vulpine battle, the comic particularly shows a little magic here. Neither scene is relegated to simple 1950's Batman styled punching and kicking. It is done a very fresh and exciting way, at least compared to the rest of the borrowed nature of the comic.
Shifters, again, is passable, but there's a lot of clumsiness about its execution that I couldn't look around. The creators might look upon Shifters as a public work/experiment, but hopefully, not as their magnum opus. It shows it's youth in design, and I would say, too much so.
I give Shifters a 3 out of 10.
Shifters would have been much better, even with the many crude errors, if it was something more original. As it is, it's more like wearing hand me downs. Worn, mediocre, and over used.