Indie Comic Review: Oxymoron

Oxymoron - ComixTribe - $24.99

Oxymoron – ComixTribe – $24.99

Oxymoron is an attempt to do something relatively unique but falls painfully far from
its goal. This is a collaborative work published by ComixTribe and is meant to be a glorious
homage to what many readers love about comic books: the villain. Unfortunately, this book
suffers in many ways and is little more than a series of stories that lack cohesion and are rife with
painful cliché.

As a rule, I tend to not like this type of collective storytelling – where a different writer works on each issue separately. When you don’t have a well-established character, like the big names that have been around for hundreds and hundreds of issues, you run into problems with how well each writer can tell the story they want to tell. With a known character you can skip some exposition and focus on the story. However, with an unknown character you have to do both. This limits the quality of time given to each aspect of the story.

Truth be told though, it’s not just the collaborative nature of this book that leads me to dislike it to such a degree. I really just don’t like the villain they’ve decided to parade around. He is completely unoriginal. For all intents and purposes he may as well be a Joker rip off – a one sided one at that. We have a psychopath with a big red maniacal grin and a white face. He kills people in violent gruesome ways. This is based loosely on the premise that he doesn’t like character contradictions. I say loosely because the level of interpretation and importance of the contradictions vary greatly depending on the writer.

Worse than this simple villain are the other pseudo-parodies in the book. Oxymoron’s nemesis is Red, an obvious gender bend of Batman. Red even has a Robin-like sidekick called the Crimson Kid. Both of whom are cardboard interpretations of the original character. Some of this is written like a poor attempt at satire. However, it doesn’t even make fun of anything in the comic genre. The humor is mostly bland. It feels like an elbow-nudge trying to say “hey look this is a comic book, it’s funny right?” Mostly, I think this book was just trying way too hard to make the reader want to root for the bad guy while completely failing to understand why people sometimes root for the bad guy.

I’ll say this: the book isn’t all bad. The first and last stories were pretty good. The first one isn’t much, but it really did a great job of introducing this psycho. Unfortunately, none of the other stories kept the same tone or feel. What was built by the first story fell apart right away.

The last story was my favorite though. It struck a nerve in me. I found myself wanting to read it despite the numerous flaws of the other stories. The sad part is that I think it worked solely because Oxymoron wasn’t the main focus. The last story focused on a street cop and had proper narration and characterization. Oxymoron shows up twice: in a flashback and the final scene. If the other stories had connected these two better, rather than being as unfocused as they were, the resulting cohesive story would have saved this book from its failure.

I love the concept of focusing on the villain. The “why” and “how” of a good villain can be a deeply compelling story that pulls you in for a gruesome ride. A good writer can even make the reader root for the bad guy. Unfortunately, this book doesn’t do it right. We are given a promise that isn’t filled. I can’t say I would suggest this chaotic disjointed caricature for a future read. This is a shame because there is definitely some talent in these pages. Regrettably, though, we can’t just give a prize for participation.

Rex Hansen once received a participation ribbon. He uses it to polish his Thumb Wrestling gold medal from the 2002 Pan-Am games. Rex Joins us each Tuesday.

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