I cannot believe May is almost here again. Anyone else shocked at how fast 2022 has moved? No? Is it just the existential dread that’s finally settling in like a thick soupy fog? Maybe so but let’s put that aside for now as we welcome “Dr. Frost” to “The Stormy Inn” so he can wait the fog out and be on his way to see “The Tax Reaper.” Yes, you read that last title correctly. The TAX Reaper. I’m as curious as you all.
So come on down and see all that and a very strange logo in this issue of The Webcomics Weekly.
‘Fireflies on the Rooftop’ – ‘Blind Spot’ (3)
By Jongbeom Lee
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
I’ve said it a million times but I love the way “Dr. Frost” paces its arcs. Not always the arc within the arc, of course, but the flow of story to story. It creates a rhythm one can tune into and one which lets Lee recalibrate our expectations as well as making the comic feel more like real life instead of a series of action movies strung together. ‘Fireflies on the Rooftop’ serves this purpose by being a one chapter breather that’s sorely needed after the taut thriller that was ‘A Fox Hole.’
Just because we take a bit of a step back in ‘Fireflies’ doesn’t mean the plot isn’t moving forward. There are some hints at the kinds of roadblocks the team is going to hit soon in addition to the decompression from the previous case. It’s chill with an undercurrent of distant malice and that’s the kind of vibe “Dr. Frost” does well. As for the three chapters of ‘Blind Spot,’ we’re back into thriller territory and it’s already starting off strong.
Quick side note, I think they changed the transliteration of Seonghyun’s last name from Moon to Mun. Not sure if this was because it was wrong before or if it’s a new choice or what but I wanted to point it out. It caught me off guard when I saw it a couple chapters prior and then had it confirmed here.
Changgyu is the focus this time around as his article exposing YPA is earning him praise publicly while the well-connected, politically minded higher ups are wary of him, likely due to the influence of Mun and Seonga’s politician father. There’s a sense of being caught in a net that’s slowly getting smaller and smaller and it’s hard to tell if it’s real or if it’s just your imagination. The gang thought they were catching up to Mun. But it may just be that he’s been onto them the whole time. I hope Changgyu is going to make it out of this but, as Frost seems to fear, things are about to heat up very soon.
The Stormy Inn
By MIYUL, Juvi
Reviewed by Mel Lake
A fearsome warrior ends his career of bloodshed and violence with a decisive victory. He’s known simply as “the devil” due to his ferocity. So what does a man like this do when he retires? Open an inn, of course! That’s the premise of “The Stormy Inn,” a new slice-of-life action-comedy on Tapas. Only three episodes are available without paying for advance access but they set up an amusing premise and get off to a great start with excellent landscapes, great character design, and an endearing main character.
“The Stormy Inn” starts with Zhang Qilin in his heyday as leader of the Red Dragon Cavalry, a fearsome group of warriors who conquered an army much larger than their own. As he defeats an enemy general, Qilin listens as the general tells him to live an ordinary life, making money as an ordinary person with an ordinary job. He apparently heeds this advice, because soon Qilin has purchased the Stormy Inn along Gold Line Road, a thoroughfare filled with fancy inns and brothels. The only problem is, Qilin is an expert in battle but knows nothing about hospitality management.
This premise is what caught my eye and the lovable doofiness of Qilin made me want to keep going. Reading about fearsome warriors doing ordinary things is a fun trope, and examples can be found everywhere from flower shop/coffee shop fanfiction settings to “Way of the Househusband,” a story about a former Yakuza that went from a manga to a popular Netflix series. Even the popular HBO series “Our Flag Means Death” features the fearsome pirate Blackbeard dreaming about packing it all in to wear fancy clothes and drink tea with the Gentleman Pirate, Stede Bonnet. Combining this premise with what looks like a cast of goofball characters who help him run the inn and ward off competition from the other inns on Gold Line Road, there’s so much potential for slapstick comedy and low-stakes shenanigans.Continued below
Pare this premise with expressive faces and detailed backdrops, and “The Stormy Inn” is a delight to read. Though billed as an action/fantasy story, there’s a lot of comedy in the first three episodes, owing to Qilin’s fish out of water scenario and the use of his mega-scary “the devil” persona to get thugs to take him to lunch. Gags like these might get old if used too often but the summary promises a larger cast of characters for Qilin to play off of, and if those personalities come together to form a whacky ragtag group that is committed to owning a successful inn despite the odds, then I say, bring on the antics.
The Tax Reaper
Original Work by Wintersleep Turtle
Adapted & Storyboarded by Elgar (adaptation/storyboard)
Illustrated by Since
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane
It was Tax Day recently in the United States which made the appearance of “The Tax Reaper” have a certain humorous charm to it. It also sets up a reading context that makes me think “The Tax Reaper” is if anything a parody of vigilante/superhero narratives. Although some of that parodic charm is likely do to the strip being translated from Korean into English. Intentional or not following those moments of friction is what makes “The Tax Reaper” an engaging read.
I’ve often had some qualms with the use of these strips as episodes, they can just not feel satisfying at times. Episode 0, the series prologue, does not have any of these issues giving readers a complete origin story for series leads Jaehyeon Shin. He was a hard-working class man who knew he needed an education to make it anywhere in the world, even if he had a strange gift of seeing numbers over people’s heads. In a slight bit of reflexivity there is a “Death Note” homage. But soon learns to ignore them after landing a middle management position at an anonymous corporation. Shin eventually discovers tax fraud and is fired after blowing the whistle on it and is soon ostracized from the business community for appearing to be inflexible about white collar crime. This serves as the catalyst for him to become the Tax Reaper complete with a hilarious montage of him wielding a flaming sword as he tries to collect on those who aren’t paying their fair share (by which I mean legally speaking since we all know the rich don’t pay their share at all).
It is that kind of zealous melodramatic energy and over the top imagery that makes “The Tax Reaper” able to function in the following episodes as he investigates various frauds. There is just an absurdist quality to making a vigilante strip about tax collection from this American perspective. I know nothing about South Korea’s tax situation. Anyone looking to have a laugh and blow off some steam after the tax man came around should check this out. Fans of odd vigilante/superhero strips will also find something of note in this series.