The Webcomics Weekly #179: Are We Travelling or Marching? (3/29/2022 Edition)

By | March 29th, 2022
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Not much of a pithy intro from me this week as I am tired when writing this and ready to SLEEP. But you know what’s not sleeping? These comics. We’ve got a “Traveler” finding what they need from “Dr. Frost” in order to introduce themself to “Señorita Cometa.”

You’ll find all this and an image of a goldfish in this week’s issue of The Webcomics Weekly.

Dr. Frost
‘A Fox Hole’ (5) – (8)
Updates: Saturdays
By Jongbeom Lee
Reviewed by Elias Rosner

After the odd dip in translation quality during the first four episodes of ‘A Fox Hole,’ things seem to have settled back into what we’ve come to know and love from “Dr. Frost.” Not only do we have a new character whom I absolutely love, The Chief, but things are starting to heat up with YSP – the organization which has been referred to as YPSA, YSPS, and a couple other acronyms across the series thus far. Manny has infiltrated the group without the knowledge of Frost & Seonga, which created this wonderful (and tense) ironic distance and then an absolutely chilling series of scenes after Frost figures it out.

What I love most about that scene, and the subsequent one with Frost & The Chief, is that Lee balances the unsavoriness of what Frost is about to do – deprogramming a YSP member – with the terror he (and we) feel for Manny’s safety. You can feel your gut clench, full of the worry that it will come back to bite Frost & co, knowing that this may be necessary but it is not right. The slowness of the opening chapters are gone and things are only going to accelerate from here.

From a meta standpoint, I’m sad Seonga isn’t going to be able to show off her strengths as was set up in ‘A Fox Hole’ (5). It makes sense, and ups the drama to have Frost reverse course due to new information, but it’s still sad as someone who’s been hoping to see a more active role from her during these proceedings. You know a character I’m glad we’re not seeing though? That asshat Moon. At this point, we’re still distanced enough from Moon to have him act as an ever present but phantom-like antagonist; the puppet master whom we know is dangerous firsthand but who doesn’t need to show up to monologue every other chapter.

But who knows? Maybe he’ll be back at the end of ‘A Fox Hole’ when everything hits the fan. As we get closer and closer to currently releasing chapters, my ability to gauge these things dwindles. It’s exciting! It’s also terrifying. An apt description this season of “Dr. Frost.”

Señorita Cometa
Episodes 1-3
Schedule: Saturday
Written by Archan & Elmanchi
Illustrated by Archan
Assisted by Elmanchi
Edited by Eunice Baik
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

I’m a simple person. The pitch for “Señorita Cometa” sounded simple enough: vigilante gentle(wo)man thief fights back against the corrupt system of Yoalco. And by and large that’s what “Luff” and “Faust” creator Archan along with Elmanchi have created, but it’s also more by placing an emphasis on the treatment of women from the everyday sexism that occurs to violence. This emphasis doesn’t reveal itself at first, it only came into focus in the second episode, but explains a choice made in the first.

Lettering is an underrated aspect of comics, without them what would the writer really do? The slight choices in font choices, word balloon placement, all affect the “voice” of the comic as well as what words get spelled out. Early on as Alex infiltrates a club, she overhears a patron talking to our lead suspect about the “little slut you drag everywhere,” note the violence implied in the verb choice. A few panels later however the lettering makes a conscious decision to censor rendering words “Dumb*ss” and “F*cking”. This censorship is illusory, the reader can still clearly understand what is being said. The choice to not do that with “slut” is a choice that renders it pedestrian, the realm of the common, it stands out for the reader but in the world of the comic it doesn’t. Which in turn reflects back on the reader how misogynistic culture in reality operates and maybe isn’t too far off from this neon bathed comic. With these choices alone I’m already on the hook for at least 30 episodes.

Continued below

Archan’s visual storytelling didn’t have to be so good, and yet that’s going to have the hook in me for the series going forward. They give “Señorita Cometa” a strange but enticing aesthetic blend of 70s anime, with a dash of shojo manga, and from my perspective the cult animated series Cybersix. Cybersix also featured a gender bending thief lead with a policeman best friend/partner in a South American setting. This is a lot of different angles and yet the action storytelling just plainly works. The majority of the first episode involves Alex’s escape from a part which sees Archan lean into the vertical nature of Webtoon strips using the act of scrolling to change perspective and hold multiple images in one too follow a chase down stairs. While we haven’t seen how their hand-to-hand combat choreography looks, if you’re a fan of “Lavender Jack” the action in this first issue is worth checking out.

At the center of it all is Alex who works IT for the police department and due to the mistreatment of her friends and curiosity figures out how to start affecting change outside the law. There’s a just expressive, kind of naïve, glee to this character that is delightful. The writer also quickly begins to map out the limits of vigilantism – like how so much of what they do results in inadmissible evidence – in a way that similar genre pieces never bother.

“Señorita Cometa” shows a lot of promise in this first trio of episodes. None of the strips feel unfinished or poorly paced, if they keep this up it could really turn into something.

Episodes 1-5
Updates Sundays
Written by T Campbell
Illustrated by John & Jason Waltrip
Reviewed by Mel Lake

Trevor Carr is in space, hallucinating. Then he’s back on earth, experiencing strange glitches in reality. “Traveler” dishes up a lot of mystery in its first five episodes and doesn’t explain much, but the first trippy chapter had me curious to see what was behind the scary door, or, rather, the scary library books.

After the first episode, we rejoin Trevor in his normal life, where things are normal … mostly. Except when he experiences unexplained glitches that involve other people but seem to resolve without anyone noticing except him. When he returns to his girlfriend’s place after one of these episodes, she notices that he seems to have lost weight but that’s all. They talk, and she brings up the fact that his only discernable income is from a YouTube-like channel where he and his bestie talk about a recently rebooted cartoon franchise from years ago that is basically a “G.I. Joe” parody. How this relates to the strange goings-on or the space adventures is unclear.

The strange things Trevor experiences and his initial chapter being lost in space were intriguing but his relationship with Lizzie fell completely flat to me. Her character felt like it was straight out of a “stock girlfriend” box of tropes so I honestly scrolled past their interactions. But once the narrative goes back into space and glitching, I picked back up and found the situation intriguing enough. The artwork is also much better when it’s focused on objects other than the human characters. They are about as discernable and expressive as a weekly news strip, which seems like an intentional choice but it makes it hard to take the relationship dynamic seriously.

“Traveler” may be worth checking out if it gets back to the action fairly quickly and doesn’t linger on the relationship drama between Trevor and his girlfriend. That aspect of the comic is dangerously close to sexist nagging girlfriend trope territory, and it would be a shame to turn Tevor, who is such a milquetoast character to begin with, into a superhero while making his girlfriend into a stereotype. But the floating books and spooky space vibes of the first episode promise something more, so one will have to get past this initial exposition hump to find out if future episodes of “Traveler” deliver the goods.

//TAGS | Webcomics

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