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Review: ‘Archeologists of Shadows’

Archeologists of Shadows is an undeniably ambitious effort from Septagon Studios. In production for five years, it follows the story of two mostly organic beings born on a train that runs continuously who are being forced to mechanize themselves to conform to an overwhelmingly technological society by a sinister authoritarian regime. Also, they might be some kind of corporeal tethers for the deities responsible for the state of their world, whose words are subject to rigorous and diverging interpretations between the authority of the world and the Archeologists of Light and Shadow. Got all that? Unfortunately, the series’ ambition is dwarfed only by its failure to live up to these ambitions – one-dimensional characters, a chaotic narrative, and a story heavy on profundity but light on gravity prevent this series from living up to its high-concept vision.

WRITTEN BY: Lara Fuentes
ART BY: Patricio Clarey
PUBLISHER: Septagon Studios
PRICE: $0.99
RELEASE DATE: December 14th, 2011

First off, it’s worth mentioning that the art in this comic is quite stunning on its own, and for only a buck, it may be worth it just for the art. The vast majority of the production seems have been put into this part of the book, and it shows. Images are extraordinarily detailed, the landscapes shimmer – the art really embodies the grandiose nature of the setting of the story. They might have overdone it with the lens flare to some degree, but it’s a minor complaint. Then again, given that a theme of this series appears to be the battle between light and darkness, it may be thematically appropriate to accentuate the lights and shadows of the environment.

However, the art has some faults. For one, it’s extraordinarily difficult for characters to convey emotions. Perhaps this is intentional, emphasizing that in a mechanistic world emotions
are becoming more and more difficult to enunciate and interpret. However, even the mostly organic protagonists are unable to visually correspond to their dialogue, which makes it harder to empathize with them. In addition to this, the action sequences – brief as they are – are cluttered and hard to follow. While there are unquestionably some stunning visuals in “Archeologists” and the sci-fi/steampunk style is highly original, the eye candy does not make up for the execution of the narrative.

Where “Archeologists” falls short is storytelling. There is plenty of symbolism in the script, in the politics of the world inhabited by the characters, and in the very characters themselves. But symbolism, allegory, and subtext are not what drives a plot – it’s characters and narrative. In this department, Lara Fuentes’ story is seriously lacking. Our two protagonists, Baltimo211447w and Alix1739413x, are about as bland as you come across. Neither possesses any characteristic that imbues them with any semblance of originality or identity. Simply because they are opposing the totalitarian mechanization of their world and happen to be some sort of techno-gods doesn’t make them interesting. It’s enough to make you root for them – after all, who wants the evil robot overlords to win? – but it’s not enough to make you care about them, or invest yourself emotionally in their story.

The story itself is pretty basic underneath the sci-fi shell. Alix and Baltimo attempt to escape the mechanization of their bodies by sneaking away to find a secret society who promise to help them fulfill their potential and reshape the world. That’s pretty much it; there are no real side-plots to speak of, and only about four or five characters of note. Because of the lack of character development, the story seems even more bare-bones than it already is.

It’s a shame, because the vision laid out the world is, in some ways unique, as is the art. But unfortunately, it seems that this team is too caught up in the big ideas of this endeavor to focus on the things that make a comic work. When style lacks substance, it becomes shallow and gaudy even though it intends to be grandiose and profound. That is the trap “Archeologists” has succumbed to.

2/5 Skulls

Reviewed by – GeorgeShunick




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