Carmen #2 Review

Written by: Mike Speakman

Art by: Matty Taylor

Publisher: Dumbskull Ink

After a promising first issue, the second issue of Carmen doesn’t really do much for the series. A lot of the good things I had to say about the first issue were fairly speculative, but now that we’re actually getting into the meat of the story, Carmen really isn’t reaching the potential of the first issue. Of course, that potential is still there, I won’t deny this book that. Unfortunately, no matter how much potential a series has, it doesn’t matter at all if it’s not achieving that potential. This all comes with the caveat of us being two issues into the series, but to be honest, the writing just isn’t holding time, and the art definitely isn’t.

My major critique of the first issue was the art. It was the one thing I wasn’t willing to give the benefit of the doubt, and for good reason. The aesthetic it creates is just kind of bad. Everything looks off, even more so in this issue than in the first. This time around, even the backgrounds and inanimate objects don’t quite look right, and in fact, look kind of lazy. This seemed to only be true of the characters in the first issue of Carmen. The characters continue to look pretty bad here as well. Their proportions are off, and facial expressions just seem to be lazily put together. Even worse, the art doesn’t show movement all that well. It simply doesn’t portray action, and as a result, this book reads like a bunch of still images, rather than a cohesive story. The low quality of the art means that this series really isn’t taking full advantage of the medium.

As for the writing, well, it could be better. There wasn’t much meaningful dialogue in the first issue, so it was hard to evaluate. In this issue, meaningful dialogue is around. Unfortunately, it’s just poorly written. Every character falls into a tried and tested cliche, even the lead characters, who are actually quite boring. These cliches aren’t inherently a bad thing, they’re just so familiar that it’s hard to make them interesting without injecting a little bit of flair into them. Unfortunately, none of the characters here really have that, and as a result, they aren’t easy to connect with, making it difficult to care about their stories. It certainly doesn’t help the dialogue is over-written.

If the dialogue is over-written, then I don’t know what to say about the monologues and narration. It reads somewhat like a novel, with full narration provided in addition to the art. Now, in some scenarios reading the narration is better than having to look at the art, but is just seems so redundant. The reader is strung along, with information being fed to them at every turn. It gets a little bit annoying, after a time. There’s just too much writing, and this is especially a problem when the sequencing of panels isn’t always clear. Pages are crowded and it can be difficult to follow the writing. It becomes a bit mind-numbing to read, and it takes more effort to figure out what to read next than it should.