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The Webcomics Weekly #104: Begin Year 3 (9/15/2020 Edition)

By | September 15th, 2020
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Welcome back to The Webcomics Weekly!

This week on Webcomics Weekly we begin our third year of publication! All good things come in threes: The Prisoner of Azkaban, “Injustice Year Three,” Spider-Man 3: The Editor’s Cut (The third cut of the Third Rami Spidey film), Batman Forever, etc. It’s just a fact. This week our trek continues up the “Tower of God” with a new one starting as we look through “Chimeran Legends.” At the sametime “Trekker” gets on a train to Avalon Bay, what could possibly go wrong? The titular “Agents” also continue their own journeys home for the holidays as Paige is back at her Aunts house of an emotional reunion.

Agents of the Realm
Pages 379-385(Ch7)
Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays
By Mildred Louis
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

Paige’s adventure continues and after a plane ride she’s back home with her Tita, and I think her siblings. The exact composition of this family unit isn’t explicit but she is definitely staying with her Aunt. That’s all besides the point, they’re a family that is what matters. Reading this coming back, after moving out for college is a different experience from when I first read it. Her Tita’s words about being allowed to enjoy life and college and not have to worry about taking care of everyone else just really hit.

The feeling of coming back to an old space you used to be at all the time and to find little and not so little differences also hit home. Paige returns to her old home to find out that her bed is gone, replaced with a new bed. A new room entirely! Which isn’t a bad thing, she seems rather agreeable to the new arrangement. Louis does a fantastic job tracking her shifting expression from weariness to acceptance and realization that this isn’t a bad thing.

This chapter continues to be just a fine example of Louis efficient and effective storytelling skills. Paige’s family dynamic is shown to the reader over the course of a few pages and it all makes sense and feels natural. It is also completely different from what her friends are experiencing. These batch of strips once again make me wonder what the mundane version of “Agents” would be like, the Magical Girl adventures are well done but this could be a real easy slice of life strip and still be fantastic.

Chimeran Legends
Chp. 4 pg. 6 – 11
Updates: Thursdays
By AK Illustrate
Reviewed by Elias Rosner

It’s always nice when you’re in the mood for something and the universe conspires to deliver it to you. I was looking for an uncomplicated, imaginative, and fun fantasy story, traditional in set-up and delivery but well executed and just different enough to be worth a read. Such is the case with “Chimeran Legends.” If you’ve read “Bone” or played classic Final Fantasy, you know the gist. Main characters go on adventures from distinct region to region, solving local problems, all while a larger plot builds in the background.

AK Illustrate keeps things focused on the two leads so that the adventures are less about accomplishing some quest and more on learning about the characters, their insecurities, and their strengths. The most recent six pages are shaking things up by introducing a mysterious hooded figure who is so shy they need Florent to help them talk to the runaway Princess. It’s a clever reversal of the usual rouge archetype and provides an outlet for Illustrate’s impeccable comedic timing.

Page 11 of Chapter 4 is a wonderful microcosm of Illustrate’s strengths as an artist and a storyteller, handling the more emotional and serious moments with earnesty while building tension to a comedic release. Again, it’s a very classic set-up but executed flawlessly. The only negatives I have are in the dialog, which often veers into schmaltzy CW-esque pat & easily resolved statements. Ex: apologies that are perfectly reciprocated or moments of emotional unburdening that are entirely communicated through the words rather than implication. It’s not bad form, and fits with the necessity of keeping adventures contained to a 24-page unit of storytelling, but is noticeable, like on page 10.

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These moments are balanced out by the places where the dialog flows more naturally and where the art helps pick up the slack. Illustrate’s style leans more cartoony, with abstractions for faces acting as shorthand for intense emotions, lending an air of cute humor to the entire comic. This stands in contrast to the moments of intensity they bring in previous chapters, which is exactly the kind of balance you want from an adventure fantasy.

I love the kicking the can attitude “Chimeran Legends” takes to its story and atmosphere and while it’s not always what I need, right now, I can’t think of anything better.

Tower of God
Tower of God: Season 1 Eps. 11-16; Episode 3 – “The Correct Door”
Updates: Mondays (Currently on Hiatus in English)
By SIU
Reviewed by Elias Rosner

What do you desire? Money and wealth? Honor and pride? Authority and power? Revenge? Or something that transcends them all? Whatever you desire—it can be yours if you climb the tower.

I said I wouldn’t be talking much about narrative, characters, etc. when it’s not in the context of adapting between comic and show but the progression of the narrative stands out enough that I have to ask: why the heck are they only on floor two? The comic does a better job of conveying that this is all happening on one floor, save for the “first test,” but it feels silly that for a comic/show called “Tower of God,” it seems like we’re spending most of, if not the entire, first season on one to two floors rather than climbing. Ah well, maybe I’ll be wrong and by episode six we’re scaling the Tower like old pros.

Tag yourself on your reaction to this prediction. I’m Rak.

The biggest difference between the webtoon’s chapters and “The Correct Door” once again comes down to SIU’s heavy emphasis on exposition to get things moving versus the show’s drip-feed of questions and atmospheric building. Hansung Yu, the test administrator for the door challenge, clearly has some scheming going on and the anime does a much better job of conveying this through furtive glances, slow sips of instant coffee, and a general demeanor of “I know more than I’m letting on.” His calmness is in direct contrast to the more blustery, worried Hansung Yu of the webtoon.

You’d never see this from anime Hansung

You can see this most noticeably in the scene with Quant, the hot-headed test administrator who has the most punchable face next to Leesoo (who is, apparently, called Shibisu and I clearly did not do a good enough job double checking what he’s called in the dub/translation rather than on the wiki two weeks ago.) In the comic, the scene lays out Quant’s incompetence and downplays his complete lack of fucks given for procedures while Hansung is far more worried about the possible ramifications of Quant’s choices & the fact that both a Princess of Jahad are in the new group AND an irregular are there. In the anime, the latter fact is foreshadowed but Quant denies that there are either in the group, clearly not bothering to check while Hansung is perturbed but remains calm, not comically perturbed. It’s a stronger character choice and, presumably, more informed but later developments.

This continues to be where the anime shines, in its construction of character and laying hints to the larger forces and plans in play while the comic is focused on the immediately important information. Khun’s status as an exiled member of a formerly important family is delivered only after going into the room testing area as that’s when it’s important, and only the information that feeds his insecurities is made clear. The anime, on the other hand, takes the time to sow the seeds for why he sticks with Bam, what his relationship to the Tower’s politics are, and his issues with his mother, feeding us bits and pieces but never the whole story before, during and after that test.

His mother is an interesting point of departure. “Tower of God” has her being an apologetic figure for the vague disgrace that falls upon him, while reinforcing that the princesses are a position rather than a familial title of royalty, a point for the comic as I would often forget while watching the show due to the aforementioned lower-volume of exposition, whereas Tower of God has her much more imposing and cruel, as if Khun sees her as nothing more than a controlling figure whose one point of wisdom was to never trust another, a fact reinforced by this Maria character’s betrayal.

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The gold mom is savage in here

There are some other moments of departure — like the action being better and more focused in the anime, which comes as no shock and cannot be something held against the comic, or the clock being stylized to add clarity to the clock clue — but the final place I thought worth mentioning is the anime’s decision to cut out the details of the other testers’ results. It’s extraneous and the short glimpses we get are a great example of trimming the fat to fit a runtime without losing the purpose of the scenes. Some also serve a dual purpose. The religious zealot’s reduction is, as in “3/400 (three-fourhundreths,)” a result of Tower of God cutting excess comedy that kinda works in print — this does not — and letting tension build.

These kinds of cuts may be more common coming up. This is the first real scene reduction we’ve gotten rather than rearranging them to better fit characters or narrative flow. It’s also a moment which makes me wonder if the Tower of God will sacrifice the more comprehensive explanations “Tower of God” gives going forward. A large part of Shibisu’s conversation with Hansung is the “detective solves the mystery” part of any good detective novel and while it is certainly overly long and, again, doesn’t trust the audience, Hangsung’s reply is well written and losing it in the show hurts that section of the scene. Hansung remains mysterious but somehow less wise than he otherwise appears.

In two weeks, “The Green April.” Hmm, I’m sensing a naming pattern here.

Trekker
Pages: Book 12 “The Train to Avalon Bay” Pages 1-8
Schedule: Mondays
By Ron Randall(story and art), Jeremy Colwell (color),Ken Brunzeak(lettering)
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

The Trekk continues with ‘The Train to Avalon Bay’ a story that was serialized in “Dark Horse Presents.” The return to this format means Randall is back to his usual writerly ticks and structure. The opening narration however was a bit bland, it’s all stuff we have heard before but also the kind of stuff you need to put in for someone reading for the first time. These shifting formats, publishers, and light serialization is interesting to consider when Randall not so casually drops the fact that Paul has died. As a new reader it adds a nice bit of texture to her brutality but if you hadn’t read it that must’ve been quite the shock.

Jeremy Colwell is on colors for this batch of strips and they look fantastic. The coloring in the previous story felt off like the levels and just everything was off and it led to some muddy pictures. Here Colwell keeps everything bold and relatively simple. He sticks to a duel rendering style where there is a fair amount of gradation of clothing and environmental objects, which is contrasted with some harder lighting. Randall largely stays out of the way of hard pure black shadow after Mercy catches her prey. It leaves a lot of open space for Colwell to work but he never oversteps onto Randall’s line work.

Colwell’s use of color is what makes a moment of brutality land in a way it never would have in the previous story or when “Trekker” was a black and white strip, as Mercy laces her perp with bullet holes. She tells her Uncle Alex they were more “instructive than life threatening,” the way Colwell’s colors interact with the mixing boundaries of clothing and flesh on top of some minute line work by Randall makes it look like she blew his arm off. Which in turn helps the bit about “instructive” bullet holes land both as a joke and commentary on how Mercy has gotten brutal after Paul died.

Randall sets up the core plot of the strip, the titular train ride in the following pages efficiently. Mercy can’t seem to go anywhere and not find trouble, but this time she’s bringing Molly her one real friend along. This is both the most interaction we’ve seen Mercy and Molly have in many books and create the immediate feeling of drama due to Molly’s presence.


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Michael Mazzacane

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