Shape-shifting polka dotted alien, Encounter, and his talking blue dog side-kick, Barko, once again must protect the pods from a vile villain. Who sent Ribbon Rhonda after the pods, and does she remind anyone else of a classic wrestler? Find out in Encounter #3 from Lion Forge.
Writer: Art Baltazar, Franco
Artist: Art Baltazar, Stephen Mayer
Cover Artist: Chris Giarrusso
Publisher: Lion Forge
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 16, 2018
Previously in Encounter: Having already protected the mysterious pods from two previous supervillains, Encounter and his side-kick, Barko, discover yet another villain has attacked their friend Kayla’s family comic shop. Faced with yet another threat, the duo must save their friends and protect the pods, and stop the villainess from making a clean get-away.
ALL-AGES FUN, FOR ALL-AGES
Art Baltazar and Franco have always been able to tell a fun, kid-friendly story and still manage to get the attention of the adults in the room, and the latest issue of Encounter proves that these comics aren’t just for kids, adults might enjoy them as well. The premise behind the series is simple to grasp: take one shape-shifting alien, a collection of polka dotted eggs… I mean pods, add a blue talking animal side-kick, a friend whose family owns a comic shop, mix, and bake and watch the hilarity ensue. It is the simplicity of the premise that makes for the entertainment.
This is the same team that brought you the super-smart Tiny Titans, Superman Family Adventures, Itty Bitty Hellboy, and their own Aw Yeah Comics. The creators have a pedigree for this style of book, and it pays off. With art duties handled by Art Baltazar, Stephen Mayer, and the ever capable Chris Giarrusso (G-Man, Mini Marvels), it is fun and light-hearted.
Encounter #3 is geared toward younger readers, and this is one of the best things it has going for it. In this day and age of “too smart for your own good” pop references and a wink and a smile stories populating kids comics, Encounter #3 is just what it looks like; a tale of an alien and his dog looking to be superheroes. When reading comics with my kids, I occasionally come across those “in-jokes” that reference something in pop culture they just might not get, but none of the jokes in this book had to be explained or dumbed down. You could hand it off to your kids and not worry about them not getting it.
NOT YOUR GRANDAD’S KIDDIE BOOK
Or maybe it is. Back in the Golden Age of comics, it was easy to find books aimed solely at really young readers. Simple, entertaining stories of a done-in-one nature were the norm. As the years progressed and readers wanted more for their buck and publishers began to fight for every consumer dime, they slowly began to write more and more complicated storylines, until today you have comic stories that are more complex than the family tree of a daytime soap opera. The kind of commitment needed to catch the attention of a young, emergent reader is different than that of the older, less experienced reader.
That said, this is still an entertaining book that this adult enjoyed.
The art is dynamic, and I feel throwbacks to the old school Marvel House Style of the seventies. Big, easy to understand panels, with big colorful characters doing exciting things, it’s going to catch the eye of even the youngest readers. The characters and motivations are easy to get, which is an added bonus. You don’t feel as if you have to know decades of backstory to know what’s going on. But most importantly, it’s fun! The villainess, Ribbon Rhonda, is an example of the quirky, colorful and accessible sort of characters that inhabit this book. She has a visually unique power, and just enough of a gimmick to make you feel like you may have seen her before. Likewise, the smart and intelligent way that our heroes defeat her is just as unique, and just enough of a treat to make kids wonder if it is possible.
BOTTOM LINE: SOLID, ENTERTAINING BUY
Although we are just in the third issue of Encounter, it reads easily and makes an entertaining outing for the young reader in your life. At the same time, it is one you will enjoy reading also.
Not to say that there are not some subtle plot lines to bring you back for the next issue. Just who is Encounter? Is he an actual alien, or something else? What are the pods? Who is sending these colorful villains and villainesses to try and collect them? Who cleaned up the comic shop after the fight that went down? If you are looking for a deep, psychological read that leaves you feeling shattered and broken, this is not the book for you. But if you want a good, fun read that will make you laugh, you need to have an encounter of your own with this wonderful book.
Encounter #3 from Lion Forge needs to encounter your buy pile.