Cyberfrog: BloodHoney Review - You all told me that Ethan Van Sciver couldn't write?
Updated: May 18, 2020
• Ethan Van Sciver (Writer - Artist) • Kyle Ritter (Colors)
• All Caps Comics (Publisher)
Cyberfrog: BloodJoney was the first crowdfunded comic that I backed after declaring publically that I supported the consumer-driven movement known as #comicsgate. Despite the constant drama surrounding the hashtag and community, Cyberfrog has remained my most anticipated crowdfunded comic.
Before discovering that I agreed with EVS regarding the general state of the comic book industry, I hadn't followed his career. I knew of Cyberfrog from advertisements in Wizard Magazine. The character looked cool but nothing about him made me interested in picking up the comics. I was exclusively reading Marvel comics at the time. I also knew of EVS's run on Green Lantern but unfortunately, I wasn't reading DC comics until they launched DC Rebirth. I managed to miss his entire career-defining run on the character.
On a live stream, I discovered that EVS was the artist behind one of my favorite X-Men moments. The issue was New X-Men #117 and in the book, Beak, a mutant birdman was forced by Cassandra Nova to beat the hell out of Beast with a baseball bat. Ironically, I didn't know who EVS was at the time but I found it ironic that he was the artist behind one of my favorite comic books.
Getting back to Cyberfrog, what sold me on BloodHoney initially was the redesign, the colors by Kyle Ritter and the genuine enthusiasm EVS had for the comic and his characters.
I want to touch on the art for the comic, but I don't want to spend too much time on it. Ethan Van Sciver is a 27 year veteran of the comic book industry. He's also is one of the best living artists working today. It's worth noting that BloodHoney exceeds any of EVS's previous work. I won't act like I've read all of the comics he's drawn over the years, but the level of complexity and detail in Bloodhoney is a step beyond any of his other work I've seen in the past.
The linework is impeccable and if Ethan decides to ever release a black and white edition of this book I'd be hardpressed not to back the project on day one. He's noted as being a slow artist this was cited as the primary reason cited for year-long delay surrounding this project. Even with the delays, the finished project exceeds any expectations I may have had when I made the initial purchase in 2018.
There are very few colorists whose work stands out to me, Kyle Ritter is one of them. A lot of the scenes in Bloodhoney are elevated by Kyles's choices in lighting scenes or landscapes. Some of the pages in the book are breathtaking at first glance and a major contributing factor in these moments is the colorwork.
I do have a slight nitpick with the colors. The book is dark, I'm not talking about tonally, that's a given. BloodHoney is a very dark story that is horrific in many instances. When I say dark I'm speaking of the pages and scenes. The book is told almost exclusively at night or inside of buildings. This makes sense due to the setting and situation so I won't make this a full-blown complaint.
However, when flipping through the comic all of the pages begin to look the same. This is a similar complaint I made in Mike S. Miller's, Deal With The Devil earlier this week. I get that the point is to create a consistent look for the comic, but I think more color or locale variety would benefit the overall aesthetic of the book. Cyberfrog BloodHoney isn't an ugly comic by any stretch but I thought it was worth mentioning.
Regarding the plot and script for BloodHoney I was led to believe that EVS was a terrible writer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ethan isn't as detail-oriented as Grant Morrison or Alan Moore but he's no slouch either. Comparatively speaking, Ethan fall's in line with creators such as Scott Lobdell, Mark Millar or Reginald Hudlin. The story for BloodHoney is big and has interesting worldbuilding. The stakes are as high as you can get and the villains are horrifying. There is weight to BloodHoney that you generally won't get in the typical lol so random Marvel comic.
A significant portion of the book is spent establishing Cyberfrog and Salamandroid's (His Brother) origins. I appreciate the time spent getting to know Trikk Rhan. Cyberfrog takes a lot of story beats from TMNT. His circle is small boiling down to Salamandroid and their human companion, Heather. Cyberfrog also has a fondness for Fried Chicken. He's a lot more than a Ninja Turtle knockoff, he's also a ripoff of Superman if you can believe that.
The character beats are surprisingly strong. Cyberfrog is portrayed as a slacker but his sense of duty carries throughout the book. Despite being beaten down by humanity for being a freak, Trikk Rhan proceeds as the defender of Earth. By the end of the book, I was heavily invested in seeing where the story goes. There is an amazing cliffhanger and let out an audible gasp at the point when the reality of the situation sets in for our heroes.
I'm not a fan of decompression or cliffhangers in crowdfunded books but due to the way that BloodHoney is segmented, I'll make an exception. The book ends in a great spot and I can't wait to see where Ethan and co. take these characters.
Ethan gets a lot of crap for being a conservative and his position as the biggest voice in #comicsgate. Detractors may not like him but they can't take away his creative spirit and ideas. Not many creators could take an idea and execute the way that Ethan does in BloodHoney. Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney Is one of the best comics to be released in recent years and it's a damn shame local comic shops couldn't get in on the action.
Cyberfrog represents a huge push forward for indie creators and rivals anything coming out of the mainstream. The campaign also recently went over 7 figures. This sort of success is huge and should be celebrated by the industry. BloodHoney is also a testament to what's possible when creators are allowed to create and the characters, story, and ideas trump the agenda.