Hiding behind the enigmatic blood stained barcode of this monochrome cover lurks Madefire’s latest indie motion book Salvage #1. Eighty-two clones have been sent to colonise other worlds and all have perished. Will Clone 83 succeed where the others failed?
Publisher: Madefire Artist: Popia Colors: Kelly Tan and Zedda Covers: Popia, Kelly Tan and Zedda Price: £0.79 from Madefire
One of the great things about the Madefire motion book platform is the way independent teams have been encouraged to create new worlds and release their works alongside Madefire’s own. Often they are initially released for free (as this book was) and then sold bringing in hard-earned revenue. A few, like Milk for the Ugly, have become instant classics but many have been hit and miss affairs. Salvage unfortunately falls into the latter category.Salvage follows Clone 83 and his intergalactic journey to collect data so that humanity can ‘live’ again. We’re quickly – perhaps too quickly – shown that he is unlike any other clone in that he has a sense of humour and a ‘soul’. He is physically alone except for a few orb droids and in contact with a voice inside his helmet. The book soon highlights the dangers of this exploration as Clone 83 is attacked by hostile life-forms. He falls down into a breathable part of the world and is endowed with a Katana – which appears to be a samurai sword. He is then given orders but starts to question what he sees around him. There follows a fight with a monster and this leads to Clone 83 discovering a secret and refusing to fight.While the action moves along like a fast-paced computer game, the dialogue reads as though it’s literally being spoken live by a group of teenage online multiplayers. The mentions of a soul and Clone 83’s wondrous prowess aren’t backed up in any real sense – they just hang there awkwardly on the page and are seemingly forgotten on the next. There are also references to founding fathers that seem cliched and again go nowhere. Salvage is only 11 pages long so maybe things will be explained further in future episodes?
The artwork is however is gorgeous. Unlike most books Salvage has only a stylish, blood splattered barcode on the cover and artist Popia has given Salvage a lovely anime-inspired look throughout. There are some nice sci-fi touches that obviously take inspiration from other works. Take Clone 83s suit – it’s put on in a way that will be familiar to even the most casual Iron Man reader. Monsters also feature heavily in this book and the scale is reminiscent of Jack Kirby in his prime. The colouring team appear to have been in two minds when working on Salvage. The book starts with a watercolour treatment but this soon progresses into a standard, flat black-outlined affair. Both work well but jar a bit when placed together – which is a bit of a shame.
“Salvage isn’t a bad book and shows promise. It is a good-looking world to visit and if the team could just sort out the pacing and phrasing of the dialogue then it could end up being rather good. We showed it to a twelve-year-old after we’d read it and he really enjoyed it, so maybe the dialogue problem is just a generational thing? We’ll definitely be popping back for a second visit anyway.”