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  • Words: Sean O'Reilly & Jay Shore
  • Art: Cadence Studios
  • Inks: Cadence Studios
  • Colors: Cadence Studios
  • Story Title: N/A
  • Price: $3.95
  • Release Date: Nov 19, 2008

Maxie and Hank grew up together. While Hank got confident with women, Maxie got well, a little robust. The two struggle to find love. Well, not so much Hank, he just uses Maxie to make him look better. When lightning strikes Hank, he loses his mojo. Now when men are around him, they get lucky with women. How will Maxie use this new power?

When this book was solicited, it sounded like a male centric version of Strangers in Paradise. To a certain extent it is and when the two friends go on a mission to regain Hank’s charm with the finer sex, it seems that the idea is sound. However, a neat idea does not a good comic make.

There is so much more involved in a good comic. A comic needs to flow from one panel to the next. There is a series of jerky scenes at the beginning of this book that are supposed to establish that Hank and Maxie were school chums and the loyalty that the dumpy friend shows his cool friend is supposed to be established in these scenes. However, what they do is set up the years long usage of the friendship that Hank embarks upon and the stuttering nature of the book itself.

Maxie is supposed to be a wingman. The guy that helps his friend and in return gets to reap the benefits of his friend’s conquests. Sure, there should be some rewards to this service that are less than palatable. However, Maxie always seems to end up with crazy, unattractive women. While Hank gets to be the womanizing playboy, he fantasizes himself to be, Maxie lives a miserable life.

When the lightning hits Hank, the tables are turned. Hank now gets the dumpy women and Maxie gets the hotties. Hank realizes pretty quickly that his friend was getting the short end of the stick in this parasitic symbiosis. However, instead of using this as an epiphany to make things right . . . he becomes secluded showing his selfish shallow needs all the more. Then when Maxie obtains happiness and begins to settle down in a meaningful relationship, he begins to miss his "friend." It is a bewildering development that is only more confounded by the slippery logic of the happy ending that then follows. You’ve seen the end in countless crass teen sex films and their wholesome moral endings.

What further exacerbates the shoddy storytelling and the sexist tone of the majority of this book is the fact that it is poorly executed. There are pages that just seem out of sequence, but the poor sequencing does not correlate to the other side of the staple. It is like some intern dropped the final version on the way to the printing press and no one checked behind them. With the herky jerky nature of most of the story, poor syntax, and typos along the way it just makes the book look like an amateur effort. This would be fine for a self published zine type book or a webcomic on someone’s blog, but Arcana is asking the reader to spend money on this.

What’s really a shame is that at its length, it would be a bargain, if the story had been more tightly plotted and edited. The other factor detracting from the value one receives from the book is the art. To the right you will find a piece of art showing the characters assembled in what appears to be a park. It looks like an artist who is one the verge of making it big. The cover as well shows promise. However, below that picture, you will find an interior image. That image appears to be rough and obviously computer colored. It is the work of someone wanting to make a comic but not having the tools. Arcana has the tools. They have produced good looking books. Someone should have helped the artists out here. The covers are misleading. The character picture is the back cover and was also an image used to solicit the book. It all adds to the feeling that the reader has been mislead.

The art inside is even worse than its rough look. It is exceedingly inconsistent. There are panels where the characters are not distinguishable as the same characters in panels preceding and following. The main character, Maxie appears to have at least five different designs throughout the book but there is no explanation as to why. Of course, the art is credited to a studio so there is no telling how many artists worked on it, but being the product of an art studio, would it not be expected for the art to have a similar feel or a finished and polished look?

Wingman is full of potential. It is brimming out of its pores. The writers seem to have good ideas, but are bogged down by their actual craft. It is in the end a very disappointing mess of a book. I was expecting to get a serious take on the How I Met Your Mother concept and instead I got the same idea as envisioned by Adam Sandler.

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