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FLIGHT OF THE STINGRAY - Brian Freeman
main characters: Capt. Jack Gannon, Capt. Dirk Denton, Elise Knudsen, Mayor Erik Amundsen, Britt Knudsen, Captain Vladimir Gurov
summary: Captain Dirk Denton appears without a trace on a secret test flight of the Stingray, a new US craft that can fly but also act as a submarine. His friend Jack goes to search for him and finds a paradise-like colony of people called Norhaven, deep into Russian territory.
This graphic novel is an amazing piece of work. I'm usually not much of a fan of these adventure strips, but the artwork looks amazing, the story concept is well-thought through and, frankly, well-explained on the 'story' summary page.
The style, to me, has a big E.P. Jacobs feel to it, combined with some nicely-masked 3D-design. If you like adventure comics with air dog fights, explosions, military exploration, etc. then you will love this comic.
Though I usually like either very modern-art or European traditional comical stuff, I must admit I was charmed by the art as well. The only drawback to me was in the realistic approach to displaying people - the realistic display, which, as I said, has an E.P. Jacobs feel to it, lacks the personal grip that more gritty, or modern-art, or even comical approach to facial expressions, have. Nonetheless, this is a tiny speck on the wall for a graphic novel that's been set up so grand and ambitiously, and to make a big point of it would be stressing personal preference and losing my objectivity in writing this review. Still, if you share my preferences, you might not enjoy this comic as much as those whose taste fits this genre perfectly.
The (69 !!) pages are rather heavy to load when you're on dial-up (like I am), but it's worth the wait. This is an impressive graphic novel by all means, and to find it online for free instead of in paper version in the shops, makes it a big asset to the worldwide online comics / graphic novels collection.
The graphic novel's site is built very nice - the pop-up window it's displayed in can be a bit annoying, but it makes for a nice controlled experience. You can go directly to whichever page you were at last or just click through it with a 'previous/next' approach. You get a story summary, a character overview, even the vehicles and locations from the comic are discussed in seperate pages. It has all the background information a more military operation-seeming story would want to have, and I'd give it three thumbs up if I could.
In short: Flight of the Stingray is an impressive adventure to get lost in for a while, and the fact that it's even a finished product (instead of an ambitiously-started but bled-to-death project) only adds to the rare quality of it amongst other online graphic novels. Brian Freeman has a massive talent. The world must be a pretty fucked up place if the comics industry never hears from him again.
Click here to read "Flight Of The Stingray" for yourself