The Wait vs The Worth -- CYBERFROG: BLOODHONEY

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Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney

In all of comics history, there has perhaps not been a comic so divisive, so defended, and so derided as Ethan Van Sciver's CYBERFROG: BLOODHONEY. And all that before the book was even printed. Seen as one of the hallmark titles of the amorphous ComicsGate movement, the title and creator have taken heat over timeliness and finances. The book raised nearly a million dollars in pre-sales through multiple Indiegogo crowdfunding efforts, and arrived just shy of being one year late of its estimated release date.

This week, the book began arriving in the hands of those who had backed it, and almost immediately new rumors began to pop up: poor paper quality, water damage, digest-sized. None of that is true. CYBERFROG: BLOODHONEY is of standard dimensions, and over 80 pages. The cover is very sturdy, the paper is of better stock than your average floppy, and the ink is smear-resistant.

But, in the words of Marc Antony (by way of William Shakespeare), "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him." So let's kick the tires properly and see how it holds up, shall we?

Some background on the character, first: Cyberfrog was created by Ethan Van Sciver back in the antediluvian era of the 1990s, and has seen publication with Hall of Heroes as well as Harris Comics. He was a frog who was genetically and cybernetically modified by an alien craft to serve as a guardian of humanity against a threat yet to come. He was joined by his "twin" brother, Salamandroid, who was similarly artificially evolved.

You do not have to have read the earlier CYBERFROG adventures to get into CYBERFROG: BLOODHONEY. However, Ethan Van Sciver has read those issues, and it's easy to forget that not everyone may be on the same page (so to speak) when writing these adventures. The greatest example of this is when Cyberfrog meets the human woman Heather Swain and saves her from an attack by a stalker. For reasons unexplained in the story, when the attacker is subdued by Cyberfrog, he suddenly has dragonfly wings. Obviously he was something other than a human being, and maybe that was explained in greater detail in the original draft of this encounter, but for us newcomers it was a bit of a head-scratcher. Not a show-stopper, but certainly something an editor might have stepped in on with an explanatory text box telling us what issue to check out.

CYBERFROG: BLOODHONEY is divided into three parts. The first part tells the origin of Cyberfrog and Salamandroid, and why they came to be. The second part shows us how the two have made their way in the world, with Heather's help. At this point, they have become something akin to the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, in that they had similarly mutated enemies like Skorpeone, Bumblebee, and the Pollen-8 robots. There was plenty of action, but it was of a lighter spirit, with banter and smashing. However, as this chapter plays out, we also see the arrival of the Vyzpzz -- an alien race of giant hornet-like creatures who seek to destroy humanity and turn it into a food source. Cyberfrog's first encounter with the creatures does not end well.

The third part of the story would seem to be the place for the comeback -- when Rocky Balboa gets his rematch against Ivan Drago, when Luke Skywalker comes back with a bionic hand to face down Darth Vader. But it is not. Rather, it is a vivid showcasing of how the world has changed since the arrival of the Vyzpzz, and the immensity of the challenge to Cyberfrog...which happens in the next book, CYBERFROG: WREKT PLANET.

So what do we have in the final analysis? It's just over sixty pages of story with nearly twenty pages of back-up material explaining the history of Cyberfrog and showcasing sketches and pinup artwork. Overall, it's a deluxe print 80-page giant comic, not a graphic novel. The spine is stapled, not prestige square-bound. The artwork is stunning, and the story -- while engaging and entertaining -- goes by quickly. If this were offered in retail stores, it is something I would pick up without hesitation, with the expectation that I would get the following chapter within two months, and that the price tag would be somewhere at or under $10. Given that this was, first and foremost, crowdfunded, it is expected the price would be higher ($25 in this case), and that brings with it a few perks: a pack of two trading cards, a bookmark, and a large circular Cyberfrog sticker. In addition, this version of the book includes a second interior cover--a white "sketch cover" signed by Van Sciver. Whether those perks merit the expenditure of the extra $15 is something only the buyer can judge. All we can tell you is that the book is great visually, good narratively, and anticlimactic punctually. Here's hoping lessons learned during this venture result in a faster production schedule for CYBERFROG: WREKT PLANET so readers aren't left dangling overly long.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0