Alex Avery's Ria: Cyber-Smasher "Episode Zero" introduces readers to a young girl who loves kung-fu movies, but whose asshole father moved her and her mother to Qwellton because it's "one of the most peaceful places around", apparently so peaceful that she might be ostracized for enjoying martial arts. This makes me think this comic was either created by a young teenager or is created for younger kids, given the story and the art.
Don't let the cover fool you; the interior art is actually better. The distraction of the ugly coloring--is that colored pencils--or cheap markers?--on the cover isn't an issue with the black & white interiors, which sport a character design style reminiscent of 8-bit video games and amateur manga. Unlike some of the other books I've read from the Avery clan, the line work and inking in this comic is actually fair quality, as are some of the layouts and action.
One area that's truly lacking is pacing as it feels like the comic jumps between ideas, actions, or settings without fluid transition and giving the reader everything they expect. Avery asks the reader to imagine way too much in the gutters between panels. Additionally, one page features three male characters playing video games, which have nothing to do with the remainder of the story, making me wonder if they were intended to show up in the next issue.
Avery's out-dated resume is available on his website and indicates he was attending the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I believe I have some of his later work I'll be reviewing and we can see if his education is paying off...
Cost: Not sure, but the entire comic can be read for free on the Capsule Comics website. This was another part of the Adhouse Comics box buy at the 2011 Richmond Zine Fest. Click the link for my review of the event.
Contact: Alex Avery can be found via the Capsule Comics website where readers can peruse some of the creator's other work, often co-created with his brother and cousin.
Recommendation: If someone gave me the next installment free or if it was a dollar (which I doubt), I would read it, but I don't plan on making any effort to continue the series. From what I've seen on Avery's site, there is no continuation despite the mystery conclusion.
Send me money for postage and it’s yours, otherwise it’ll sit in my unofficial minicomics and zine lending library.