PANNED! #4 – #6
Writer: James Maddox
Artist: Antonio Dahora
Cover Colors: Buddie Edwards
Publisher: Broken Icon
Issues 4 through 6 pick up where 1 through 3 left off, and I don’t mean as far as plot is concerned, though they do that as well. While the first three issues do a great job of laying on the atmosphere, it takes a short drop when the comic decides to slow up for a bit of exposition. Issue 4 picks up the slack with a great combination of back story, mood, and action. In fact, one might easily say that issue 4 is the best issue of the six-issue series. It finally explains all of the little plot holes and character motivations that have been building up to this point. It’s the perfect middle chapter, after a lengthy set up and just before a rather interesting conclusion. Issue 4 of PANNED! is to this series what The Empire Strikes Back is to the original Star Wars trilogy.
Issues 5 and 6 do a decent enough job with presenting the conclusion, especially issue 5. But the nearly “Deus Ex Machina”/Chekov’s Gun style ending of issue 6 comes and goes so quickly that it has no weight. It’s a somewhat lackluster climax. But the aftermath is nice enough. And if you think you can predict how it’s all going to turn out, think again. My prediction was CLOSE, but definitely no cigar. The ending the creators of PANNED! went for isn’t quite the ending one might expect from this sort of story, but in all honesty, it’s probably the only way it could have turned out.
The best part about the ending, is that it manages to bring closure to the story without being so finite that it makes it impossible for any further continuations of the story or excursions into this literary universe in general. And it leaves you pondering about the world you just visited, which is what a good story should do. If you finish a story and think to yourself, “Well that was neat, moving on,” then what you just read probably wasn’t very substantial. However, if you finish reading something, and it sticks in your head for a bit and it leaves you thinking about the world you just experienced, then chances are you’ve just read something worth reading. And that’s exactly what PANNED! does.
Again, the only real complaint one might find to address, is the manner in which the artwork is presented. The line drawings and sketches are all decent enough and have potential, and the behind the scenes segments at the end of the issue illustrate that. But the final product looks like something drawn in Microsoft Paint, that gives it all a rather unappealing visual style. But don’t let that deter you. It’s a fine read, and the quality of the visuals fluctuates, and it’s not all unappealing.
Another aspect of this comic series that deserves a healthy bit of praise is the handling and use of characters. Keeping it rather spoiler-free, seeing the way certain members of the Pirate Crew and The Lost Boys have changed and grown (who knew you could do that in Neverland?!), and how they’ve come to interact with characters under these new circumstances, is quite fascinating.
Is it the best thing I’ve ever read? No. Is it a pretty good yarn nonetheless? YES. Is it worth checking out? Most assuredly.