Metazoa just launched on ComiXology Submit. Story is by Peter Marshall Smith and art by Sandy Brion Spreitz. It’s described as anthropomorphic sci-fi and cyberpunk neo-noir. I found it redundant, too familiar in its setup and events to many other stories I’ve seen.

It’s your standard “tough guy must walk these mean streets alone” premise, only everyone has an animal head. We’re told that Ram, a bear, is feared by most at the bar he visits, and he randomly beats up folks to demonstrate how macho he is, when he’s not monologuing about whiskey. Then he gets beat up in response to his unwillingness to kowtow to anyone.


The two parts, art and text, don’t interact too often, with a lot of cliched narration over the cluttered images. The visual style is different from a lot of other comics, at least, with a riot of color leaving no white space anywhere. I suspect it’s meant to evoke the kind of dark rainy neon look of such projects as Blade Runner, but the simplified figures and lack of depth instead make me think of a coloring book gone mad. It can be difficult to tell exactly what’s going on, which does make the ever-present text useful in that regard.

The area we’re shown is called the Bamboo District, run by pandas, so characters speak Japanese. Whether you find this clever or vaguely racist or appropriating a more interesting culture depends on how much you like the rest of it. Similarly, the few women are drawn as bunnies: waitresses, pinups, and bar girls. Ram meets one, develops an instant crush, and finds out she belongs to the big boss. Again, nothing new here, and nothing clever, just a mishmash of better elements from elsewhere.

The pitch email I got talks about a concept of each type of animal evolving their own society and the aim of being “an ideological critique of class inequity” with characters escaping into the virtual realm of cyberspace. That all sounds interesting, but I didn’t see any of it on the actual page. (The creators provided a digital review copy.)

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