I think any comic involving battling aliens has amazing potential, and, to top it off, Mickey Lam (story/art/lettering) has made his hero a science teacher – even better! It’s an incredible undertaking to not only develop the story, but write the dialogue, design the lettering, and illustrate the entire comic. While Lam’s debut comic book is, in my opinion, still in the developmental phase, I hope we continue to see his work develop, because he has a vivid imagination and is a talented visual artist.
Mr. Yang Fights Aliens‘ main problem comes with the character and plot development. From the plot and character description at the end of the comic, I learned more about Lam’s intended world and Mr. Yang’s personality than I did from reading the comic. Lam has an elaborate world and plot that moves so quickly you aren’t ready to root for Mr. Yang yet, because you don’t know him. He seems quirky, but the story moves quickly from him on the phone to a student in the dean’s office for punishment. (It turns out the dean is an alien . . . and his punishment might be considered dinner by humans.) After the student is eaten, we return to Mr. Yang and the dean is never brought back. I am wondering if this is a secondary plot that Lam intends to include in Issue #2, which would be hysterical. I just think right now it doesn’t fit. Currently, it comes across as random and out of place instead of a part of the entire story, which disappointed me, because I wanted to know more about the alien dean at Mr. Yang’s school. I mean . . . Yang is working for aliens! I am not sure if the piece needs to be separated into chapters devoted to a single storyline or embrace that it is going to be longer in order to give each character, event, and plotline its due, because they have potential to go in a multitude of fun comedic directions.
I love that Lam has decided to make this a comedy. It works with the world and concept he has created. Some of the dialogue, however, is stilted. Mr. Yang comes across immature and rude rather than “deadpan, dry, but hilariously blunt,” as described by Lam. It would be hysterical if he was completely unaware that his comments might come across rude and be hurt at reactions rather than whiny. And, is he secretly strong, sexy, and brave, or accidentally beating the aliens? The transition was unclear to me. Either choice could be interesting, although I think the latter goes better with Lam’s character description, which would make it even funnier when he mysteriously gets the girls in the end, completely unaware of his attractiveness rather than turning into Don Juan, which felt out of character.
Mr. Yang Fights Aliens is strongest in the artwork. Lam is a talented visual artist, meticulous and detailed. I enjoyed his choice of black and white; however, in some of the more complicated scenes, it was difficult to distinguish the action. Those shots (battle and bridge) would have benefitted from larger space given to them, and maybe less detail or more shading. Each character has a clearly defined image, and the human faces are beautiful. I think he could have even more fun with the aliens; he clearly has the talent to do so!
I loved Lam’s choice to make the fonts for the alien speech and the human speech drastically different. It was as if the aliens had their own language (even though it was still English); however, at times, the alien font was difficult to read, which may just have been my pdf copy, but I missed out on a great deal of what the aliens said. The human font was bland and took away from the beautiful artwork. While I love the fonts being different, one simplistic and the other crazy, the human font needed to be a little less simplistic, more artistic, and the zany alien font just needed to be more legible, maybe bigger because the font was really fun.
Overall, Mr. Yang Fights Aliens is an admirable work in progress from a budding graphic artist. I look forward to seeing where he takes Mr. Yang’s adventures, as well as reading his future work. It’s exciting to see someone ambitious enough to take on the undertaking of literally creating everything about a comic; it is truly commendable. I think he deserves a warm welcome from the comic book world.