04th Aug2015

‘Surface Tension #3’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written and Drawn by Jay Gunn | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Paperback, 32pp


Surface Tension has been a bit of an up and down ride so far, very promising first issue followed by, for me, a slightly lacklustre second issue. I still like its premise and concept, just want a little more ‘bang for my buck’ as they say.

Well, Jay Gunn has seemingly read my mind as issue 3 has far more in common with the first issue than the second. Lots of action to get your teeth into, some noticeable plot developments, and a couple of ‘wow’ moments. We get to see what the coral entities have in store for mankind down the line if nothing changes, which is the central ongoing plot of the book after all, as well as some important back story for Meg. Want to know what happened to the baby at the end of last issue?… SPOILER: It involves wings and is not good.

In general Surface Tension #3 flows really well, some nice sci-fi/ horror tropes to be found, but again Gunn has problems when he stops the current day action to give us more back-story/ flashbacks. Although it fills in some details that are helpful, it stops the energy the book has built up dead in its tracks, which then takes time to again build back up. Gunn is clearly bursting with ideas and plot points he needs to get down on the page, but needs a little more discipline when it comes to pacing and plotting.

Although Gunn has his faults as a writer, his art tends to cover up the worst of those sins. The art is consistently good, not just in terms of style but in layouts and easy to read panels; nothing fancy, nothing unnecessary, just solid storytelling. He is equally good at the mundane and the fantastic, both of which he delivers in this issue. He draws an interesting psychedelic flashback sequence, characters quietly chatting around a table, and a huge monster attacking the town all within a few pages of each other and all executed well.

Gunn is as consistent though in his faults as he is in his strongest areas. I don’t think I have liked hardly any of his dialogue, it lacks that something to make it believable. Gunn struggles to give his characters some emotional empathy sometimes, and dialogue becomes more exposition than anything else. Real people talk a certain way, and this isn’t it. For me, that lack of emotion also carries over into the art, specifically facial expression and emotion. Although his figures are fine, the faces are too static, too posed, which results in us as readers losing some of that emotional involvement the writer needs to hook us in.

Jay Gunn has shown by now though that he has a good story, with decent characters, and a good grasp of his genre. It is a book that very much has its own voice. Although his strengths are in the broader areas such as plot and layouts, rather than dialogue and figure work, this is still very much an effort worth picking up.

*** 3/5

Surface Tension #3 is out now from Titan Comics.


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