My readers who have followed Cary's Comics Craze since its original incarnation know I'm an avid DC and Marvel fan. (Yes, it's more than possible!)
But occasionally I get a request — usually from someone who follows my professional Facebook page — to review an independent comic book. That brings me to CENTRALIA No. 1, a black-and-white comic, which came out in May.
The plotter and artist is Jay Taylor while the story is credited to Mike Franzione.
My reviews typically spend only two sentences to a one-parapraph maximum on the plot or setting so I can give my readers an idea of what's going. For the rest of the review, I focus on my thoughts on the story, art, various incidents and theme in the story.
That's problematic here since getting a feel for where or when CENTRALIA is set is unclear. The first five pages make me think the story is set in the past — yet clearly on another planet and/or another realm. Mostly I get the feeling this is a fantasy or even in a time not unlike Conan the Barbarian's, yet the main character answers his cell phone after killing a bear-like Felger with an axe. Then on page 7, he has to tug his load in a rustic wagon by ropes strapped to his shoulders and by page 8 it's clear the setting has changed to outer space.
Each of the characters' names also are unclear — if they're even provided at all. Often, other characters don't say a person's name until midway through the conversation. And even then I'm still not certain the writers ever provided the main character's name. Although a bearded visitor to the local pub calls him "Paria Lynch," the protagonist responds with surprise.
Two sources of conflict established midway to late in the issue are 1) quotas (of what exactly?) and 2) an apparently long-standing conflict (which also isn't specified) between Lynch and a man who ends up getting beaten up and imprisoned — and Lynch gets blamed for such attrocities happening although it's clear he had nothing to do with them.
Why is Lynch surprised to hear the bearded man say his name? (Is that even the main character's actual name?) What's at issue with the problematic quotas? Why did the businessman have the man who threatened Lynch captured? What do the spaceship occupants have to do with the rest of the story, which I assume is the main plot? Honestly, it's hard to tell.
Maybe there will be more answers in issue 2, which On the Square Comics is releasing in the fall. For more information, go to www.onthesquarecomics.com.