Digital Ash 10/17/2013: Cities of Crime

A comic review article by: Daniel Elkin, Jason Sacks

Digital Ash

Moth City #5

(Tim Gibson)

4 stars

It's been awhile since I last checked in on the goings-on in Tim Gibson's Moth City, and in the interim, all hell's broken loose.


What started out as political intrigue has blossomed into out-and-out horror. Gibson's got all his guns blazing in issue five, leaping over the half-way mark in this eight-issue series, and he's firing every bullet in this “guided view” digital format with deadly accuracy. Herein, as one of the main characters says, is “A city that appears to be eating itself alive, and an impatient Major with too much warship and too little time.” But that's only half of it.

Moth City

This series is covering itself with gore while strapping on big themes and asking the bigger questions. What happens to small players in games organized by the larger order? What is the difference between brutality and savagery? What are the obligations of family? What are the obligations of government? What are the consequences of self-absorbency? Who is a hero? Who is a monster? What would you do? What would YOU DO?

And Gibson's providing no easy answers as his questions get harder and more complex. Moth City is that kind of series. Its narrative drops click by click, Gibson's art continues to draw you in wholly, and you can't possibly predict how this thing is going to end.

Moth City

Every action so far has had a consequence; each character's decisions have had a motivation. There are tears in the midst of the blood, and it is hard to tell which is harder to drop. The politics of Moth City get more and more convoluted in this issue, but so do the decisions characters must make out of their love for each other. Which is the greater moving factor? What is justifiable in the end?

More questions, I know.... and to fill up a review with questions isn't really “reviewing” anything at all. But Gibson's series is doing this to me. I can't help it. I'm sorry.

The last time I reviewed Moth City for Digital Ash I spent more time talking about the medium than the message. Gibson's use of the digital format continues to be amazing and engaging and unique, but the story of Moth City has transcended its format becoming a thing of note in itself.

And it sure does lead you to mull quite a few questions.

Do it!

- Daniel Elkin

Check out the entire Moth City series on Comixology.

Nathan Never Book Two

(Rich Barrett)

3 stars

Nathan Sorry is a very mixed-up man. He's been through some extremely traumatic events, has been adrift in his life, and finds himself alone in a small town, drugged-out and drunk and believing that a stray dog is actually the reincarnation of a version of Nathan that died on 9/11. As readers move through this second part of a longer graphic novel, we see hints of Nathan's past, signs of Nathan's present, and few implications about Nathan's future.

Nathan Sorry

At the core of this eventful collection of Rich Barrett's webcomics is the eponymous main character, a man who's either so traumatized by his past or so overwhelmed by the sheer act of living that he comes across as completely passive. I found myself driven to distraction by the fact that Nathan just doesn't do much in this chapter, even refusing to take action when confronted with a legitimately scary human moment.

That may be the point of this comic and this character – I'd have to guess that the events at the end of this issue will lead to other events that bring Nathan out of his funk and drive him to actually live his life – but this passive lead character is strangely in opposition to his story arc that includes accidentally burning down his ex-girlfriend's brownstone, losing his parents in a plane crash, surviving the 9/11 attacks while everyone thinks he's dead and being dragged into a strange fraud that's completely obscured when al Qaeda crashed their planes into the Towers.

Nathan Sorry

Yeah, a lot of shit happens to Nathan, all of which clearly drives him a little insane (who but a crazy guy would think that his dog is a reincarnation of his own previous life?), and all of which makes him a lead character with whom I want to empathize. But so much happens in his life, so many strange twists and turns, and so many puzzling decisions, that I found myself more annoyed by Nathan than appreciative of him. C'mon, man, I wanted to say. Shave that beard, take action in your life, move on and be an adult already.

Barrett draws this book in a steady grid - occasionaly broken up in smart ways - using a clean line style that gives a calmness and rhythm to the comic that sometimes helps the story and sometimes works against it. His art is most effective in an interesting scene in the woods at the end of the first half of the book, where his use of shading and different visual types helps to add drama to the moment that's portrayed.

Nathan Sorry

Nathan Sorry is an intriguing digital comic that kept me involved in the story as it went along. Hopefully Nathan the man and Nathan the dog will become more active in their lives as the story evolves and the mysteries play out.

- Jason Sacks

Buy Nathan Sorry on Comixology

Daniel Elkin likes comics, documentaries, and sandwiches (although perhaps not in that order). He talks about all three over on that @DanielElkin. As well, he is  Your Chicken Enemy.

Jason Sacks talks to his cat as if the cat completely understands him, but swears he's not a crazy cat guy. Follow him @jasonsacks

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