REVIEW: ‘Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments #1 - But Why Tho?Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments #1 is a Kickstarter comic written by Greg Gustin with art by V. Gagnon, letters by Joamette Gil, and a secondary short “The Secret Origin of Dr. Love Wave” with art and letters by Michael Kennedy. Something strange is afoot in Madre Bay. The water in the bay disappeared overnight, and some sort of alien creatures may have something to do with it. But today is a big day for Milt. His band Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments has a gig, and they just landed a song on the radio. It’s also the one-year anniversary of his mother’s passing.

The story in Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments #1 is just the right levels of wacky for me. A sci-fi-themed surf-rock band encountering a surf-related sci-fi mystery? Sounds awesome to me. And while this first issue only starts to get the ball rolling, it is rife with potential. There’s a sleazy councilman with dreams of Washington. There’s a mysterious out-of-towner who claims to love the band and gets Milt all frazzled in front of a girl who has been crushing on him. And there’s a somber backdrop to the whole thing. The band’s dynamic is on the rocks, but it seems like their rock is also totally dynamic.

I wasn’t necessarily able to get a full grip on the main characters yet. They don’t get much time besides in some really well-lettered text messages. But because they’re just texts, you can’t see who they are attached to and the expressions that go with it. Two characters that I look forward to hopefully seeing duke it out more in the future are Councilman Biddle and Bergie, who I assume is the harbormaster. There’s some really nice, subtle worldbuilding done that shows how this small town works, and their clash will hopefully be epic.

The art is quite enjoyable as well. While sometimes the faces on a few characters are a bit too exaggerated for my liking and I’m not sure if I can tell the bandmates apart yet, I love the watered-down pastel coloring. It fits perfectly with both the beach and sci-fi vibes of the story. There isn’t always a full background in each panel, so the use of these pretty gradients is great. When there are backgrounds, they’re usually big and gorgeous. Additionally, once the band gets into their costumes, they all look totally fun and the colors get even better as they hit every end of the rainbow in just sheer sci-fi-surfer rock joy. The lettering, as already mentioned, is great. I love the text message exchanges especially, and the font for the rest of the text is both funky and readable, which is a great pairing for this book.

The bonus short “The Secret Origin of Dr. Love Wave” is, well, interesting. I really enjoy the overt pastiche to 1960s Marvel comics. The way the story is told and the way the panels are arranged could just as well fit in Strange Tales or Tales to Astonish. But, the art is a lot more rounded than those comics, which is both a bit off-putting since the rest is so much in line, but also nice, because the art is just a little less jarring to look at this way.

The trouble I have with this bonus story is just how much more overtly and suddenly sexual it is. This isn’t a bad thing on its own, it’s just jarring when the main story was so much less obvious about it. I can’t tell if this short was written this way because that’s the true vibe of the rest of the main story, or if it was just a sort of gag. I do like it on its own; it’s funny. Though I worry that if this is the theme going forward, it has just a little bit of an unpleasant message about the association between one’s worth and one’s ability to satisfy others sexually. Nonetheless, if this story is meant to be taken in total sarcasm, then it definitely is a funny little extra piece.

I quite enjoyed Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments #1 and would look forward to reading future issues. The world and premise are captivating. While I’m not quite sure about the main characters, there are a number of seeds planted throughout the issue that hint at interesting dynamics and developments.

Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments #1 is available now.

Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments #1
4.3

TL;DR

I quite enjoyed Dr. Love Wave and the Experiments #1 and would look forward to reading future issues. The world and premise are captivating. While I’m not quite sure about the main characters, there are a number of seeds planted throughout the issue that hint at interesting dynamics and developments.