Previously split-up into 8-page installments, and featured in issues #18 through #20 of “Dark Horse Presents”, Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas’ “Gamma” (One-Shot) can now be enjoyed in full, uninterrupted splendor. With blatant nods to Pokémon, Power Rangers, and the under-appreciated kaiju universe of films, Farinas’ artwork ultimately carries the duo’s script to its wacky end, as it proves to be more visually interesting than the narrative.
WRITTEN BY: Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas
ART BY: Ulises Farinas
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
RELEASE: July 24, 2013
“Gamma” follows a disgraced, ex-champion monster trainer named Dusty Keztchemal (get it?), who makes his masochistic living out of getting punched in the face, as a self-imposed punishment for abandoning his planet during a massive daikaiju epidemic and war. When a chance at redemption and sex with someone who isn’t his wife (or a prostitute) presents itself, Dusty attempts to overcome his meaningless life and re-establish himself as the best monster trainer in the world.
Co-writers Farinas and Freitas debut a protagonist who isn’t conventionally compelling in the slightest. He’s a pathetic, deadbeat coward, and a perverted adulterer when readers are introduced to him. Any ounce of sympathy felt for Dusty and his battered face quickly disappears as readers learn more about him and the reasons why he’s hit rock bottom. All in all, the man just isn’t particularly likeable.
The most interesting aspect of the one-shot is definitely Farinas kaiju elements. Buildings and structures are destroyed à la “Godzilla”, but Farinas also uses kaiju to aid Dusty and his soldiers in rescue missions to save cities and civilians. Certain characteristics of complex personalities are also demonstrated in these monsters; specifically in Sparky, Dusty’s “Pikachu”, if you will. A character that’s far more interesting than its master.
Farinas’ cover art is a creative explosion of all the strange creatures featured in the story; the colour scheme, and some of the kaiju designs on the cover, are debatably reminiscent of the style of art in the “Adventure Time” universe. It’s easy to see that the duo isn’t shy when paying homage to the characters, games, and TV shows they so clearly love. Nor do they hold back when poking fun at the ridiculousness behind some of the concepts presented in these programs. For instance, when Dusty battles against another monster trainer, it’s such a refreshing improvement on the traditional Pokémon battles fans are used to. All trained monsters come out to fight and the results are delightfully gnarly.
Overall, while the art, particularly in terms of Farinas’ kaiju, is charming, the script just doesn’t live up to the genres and popular culture references it’s trying to emulate. As a one-shot, it’s forgivable, and even interesting in parts; but as an expanded upon universe? Not sure it’ll do well.
Reviewed by – ShadowJayd