SubTerra 1: Order
Jacob R. Ross
Jacob R. Ross
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SubTerra 1: OrderIf you stop to think about what's missing from a graphic novel when compared to other story-telling media, a soundtrack is likely to come near the top of your list. Whether you fully appreciate music with your words and pictures or not, a movie or TV director has an extra tool that can be used to help shape the audience's emotional response.
With this in mind, we were looking forward to Order, the first chapter of a three-part work featuring both a graphic novel and a mini-album, distributed on a CD-ROM you can play on your PC or Mac. The story is set in a distopian far-future, revolving around a fugitive on the run from the authorities who has no idea of why he's being chased. The music, also created by the evidently multi-talented writer and artist, is an industrial soundscape perhaps most easily described at techno meets metal, though this is about as useful a description as calling The Beatles a pop group and leaving it at that.
The biggest disappointment is that the two projects aren't quite intertwined - the music is simply five tracks of CD audio, which we couldn't play at the same time as reading the comic without copying the latter onto the hard disk of our test PC first. Needless to say, this also meant that the music isn't tied into your location in the book, which we thought a bit of a shame, though the CD inlay warns that the link between the two is nothing more than 'subconscious'.
We were also disappointed at the length of this chapter of the story, which was over far too quickly - almost as we were starting to get into it. The reader must scramble through a chaotic start, with a vast number of characters but little time to get to know even the main protagonist. The artwork is dynamic and well designed though quite busy, and squeezed into a smallish window, presumably for reasons of maximum compatibility.
This is an interesting work, particularly because of the format in which it's distributed. However it's only really going to appeal to the type of comic fan that clamours for dark futures and industrial music.
Next in series
SubTerra 2: Chaos