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Reviews Tue Jun 07 2011
Hamster Rage is an interesting beast by writer and artist Brian J. Crowley. It's a webcomic featuring an anthropomorphic super powered hamster with a penchant for trench coats and cheese. Nevertheless, the lead character isn't what makes this an odd read. It is the feeling that so much more is going on beyond the scenes than the reader is privy to. The first introductory batch, available online or in a recently released paper issue, features Roosevelt, the titular raging hamster, alongside a boatload of supporting characters duking it out in the streets of Chicago, featuring a number of landmarks familiar to people who frequent Montrose between Ashland and Clark.
Perhaps the most endearing aspect of this heaping helping of action is the gratuitous number of extras thrown into the mix alongside the animated and cartoony style of Crowley. The vast majority of characters are gimmicks. Some fall a bit flat in that regards but the ones that stick do so quite well. Visual gags abound with characters like Roboto Muchacho and Jet Knight, appearing just enough not to overstay their welcome.
Furthermore, beyond gobs of extras, Hamster Rage is loaded with cameos of other Chicago creators' work and product placement for comic shops. Although these pop-ins are a bit overwhelming and are given far too much space to roam, to the detriment of getting to know Roosevelt one iota, I expect there is some larger purpose to it all. Indeed, there is almost no personality to latch on to as the comic is a large sequence of kicks and punches with little connective tissue beyond 'costume X wallops costume Y and then costume Z shows up and fights'.
As a webcomic, Hamster Rage does have potential to rectify these quirks by releasing tidbits to inform readers but a quick glance at the site is a bit of a letdown in this regard. Some of the site's functionality is suspect with broken links and missing pages. Plus, there's a suspicious absence of new content. While a quick glance at Hamster Rage's fan site does promise something called "Hamster Rage 2.0", the scarce details on the future make recommending this title difficult.
Hopefully more details emerge about what's on the horizon for Hamster Rage. While the first installment is rough around the edges, the sheer volume of characters, some with ample potential, packed into these thirty-odd pages would make it a shame for it all to hit a brick wall.