Division Shadow Review

On the website for Division Shadow, writer Patrick Meaney states that, while he is fine with self-publishing Division Shadow, but if a publisher is willing to publish it, he'd be willing to listen. I, for one, would really like to see a publisher take up Meaney's offer, because with a little polish on the writing, and a completely different artistic team, Division Shadow could really be a good comic book.

I reviewed the mini-comic first issue of Division Shadow almost two years ago, and my statement there was "take a look at the cover, and I think you can tell whether is is...appealing to you or not."

Here is the cover to that issue...

Now here is the cover to the graphic novel...

Already a significant improvement, no?

The comic as a whole is significantly improved read as a graphic novel, as Meaney's story really does not fit too well in a serialized narrative, as too much of the entire concept of the comic is based upon connections that do not become evident until the reader is well into the book. Such a set-up is doable in a graphic novel format, but can be killer in a serialized comic.

The comic features three stories that eventually intertwine, all drawn by different artists.

One story, drawn by Nicolas Colacitti, stars a military man who is enlisted in a secretive "shadow" government organization, all the while facing turmoil in his home life (which he would be forced to abandon if he became a member of the organization, the nominal "Division Shadow" - why they wouldn't call themselves Shadow Division rather than Division Shadow is beyond me) and a strange attraction to the survivor of a raid his team of soldiers made on an illegal cloning operation.

The second story, drawn by Carlos Devizia and Marcelo Carmona, follow two young peace workers who have organized a refuge camp somewhere in the Middle East, much to the chagrin of a mysterious American General who wants the refuge camp eliminated, but without it looking like the American government did so.

The third story, drawn by Shawn Decker, depicts a paramedic who is conscripted from her job by a mysterious government agency to be the nurse for a mysterious dying man, who wants to get something done before he dies, but needs her help in achieving it.

To say that the art differs in quality from story to story is to be kind, as beyond Colacitti's work (which starts okay enough and gets stronger as the book progresses), the artwork is pretty darn bad.

Here are three sample pages (one by each artist) (click to embiggen the images)...



Devizia and Carmona...

Annoyingly, neither of the last two pages truy demonstrate my problems with the artists, but I only had a couple of sample pages to choose from.

Decker looks like he might be a nice design artist, but he doesn't seem to be able to draw human beings well at all, and it is really jarring to see.

Devizia and Carmona are better, but their work is extremely stiff, with especially great problems with storytelling.

By the end of the comic, which by design, ends with more Decker and Devizia and Carmona than Colacitti, I was just pleading to see some more Colacitti, because it got brutal, as the others, while already bad, were just getting worse as the comic went on - like they were rushing work that was poor to begin with.

However, the overall story was pretty good. Meaney has a lot of clunky dialogue and takes some occasionally odd directions with the stories, but for the most part, none of his problems seem to be anything that a good editor couldn't fix. He had an overarching theme with which to take his characters, and the more you read the book, the more you were invested in this group of characters and their various interactions.

So yeah, if Division Shadow was re-done by a publisher, with a strong editor and a new art team (or at least with enough money to maybe pay Colacitti to draw the whole thing), I think this would be a good comic book.

As it is, not at the moment, no.

So Not Recommended, but Meaney really has something here, and I'd be quite interested in reading future projects from him.

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