So, who is Wally Fresh, and what kind of adventures does he exactly have? Well, you’ll be getting my two-cents all though this review, so why don’t we seize a rare opportunity to hear from the comic book character himself and read how Wally would describe his own situation? Here’s an excerpt from Wally’s BlogSpot profile:
"So, living in New York is never easy, and my current economic "Situation" has precipitated a rather violent change in my living status. Namely the arrival of Barry. Now, don't get me wrong, he's totally cool. He's quiet, he's clean (most of the time), and he plays a wicked game of Street Fighter. The only real down side is he's a beaver...that talks. I know a bit of a shocker, right? But, check it out, he's not your normal run-of-the-mill Hoover Dam beaver, this guy - or should I say animal - is a bonafide familiar. (For those in need of an idiot guide that's a spirit animal.) From what he tells me, he's moved to New York to get a new lease on life, wipe the slate clean, so to speak. So, now he, myself, and my neighbor, Valerie, all hang out together getting into the occasional adventure. Ninjas, intergalactic thieves, cyberspace serial killers, and disappearing subway trains all in a day's work. Now, I know what you're thinking, and, yes, these things might sound a wee bit strange...if I didn't live in New York...Brooklyn to be exact."
The Adventures of Wally Fresh: Take the A Train reads like a cross between Hellboy and what we’ve seen of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, with a splash of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to complete the mix. Lange crafts a story that is 50% epic sci-fi fantasy and 50% witty, character-driven comedy and takes Wally, his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, his Spirit Beaver roommate, and his slightly crazy neighbor on a journey deep beneath the streets of New York, where a blood-thirsty alien seeks the key to immortality and to (of course!) eventually conquer Earth. Lange’s characters are charming and interesting to follow, and the dialogue is, for the most part, clever and believable. While Lange’s script has that unique, “anything goes” flavor that is key in indie comics, but he also sprinkles it with that those pop-culture, geek nods that have become so desired by fanboys and fangirls raised on the works of Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith. The Adventures of Wally Fresh: Take the A Train is also fairly unique given that it not only features an African-American lead character but pairs him with two female characters (ok... and a beaver who is technically male). It’s nice to see indie comics making the effort for equal representation that has been so long desired by fans of the the big two. If you want unique, risky, edgy comics, you need to check out the indie comic scene, and The Adventures of Wally Fresh: Take the A Train wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
Lange’s illustration of the book shows the same care and dedication that his writing does. He’s got a signature style that stands out from the pack, has a great handle of illustrating action sequences and seems to have a great handle on character body language, as well. Lange also has a talent for creating some very creepy creatures. His design for angler fish-like “Hounds” are sure to give readers some good chills.
I did notice a few flaws with the book, but none that really “tipped the scale” from me. While Lange is an extremely talented creator and, apparently, a jack-of-all-trades, some of the book’s dialogue balloons squeeze the text a little too tightly and don’t exactly have the craft of an experienced letterer. It doesn’t ruin the experience, but it could be improved by potentially hiring a skilled letterer for further adventures. Also, while Lange’s panel layout tends to be inventive and exciting, there were one or two times where they left me confused as to where my eye should go next and what dialogue to read at that point. There was also a confusing moment between two of the later chapters/issues where each issue seemed to depict the same events happening in two different, conflicting ways. Hopefully, some of this issues can be cleared up for further volumes.
FINAL SCORE: 3.5 Spirit Animal Roommates out of 5
You can find out more about The Adventures of Wally Fresh: Take the A Train and get a look at some sneak peeks of the book at the official website.
That’s all for now, comic book sniffers! Keep being boss with the beavers!
’Till the end of the world,
-Bryant the Comic Book Slayer