Welcome back to The Webcomics Weekly!
In two weeks it’s election day here in the States and I feel like it’s the weeks leading up to the end of 2012 again. Hopefully soon we can “Trekker” on into “A Better Place” that isn’t quite in “The Otherknown” and maybe we’ll even find a “Suitor Armor.” And if not, at least I nailed that sentence. High five!
A Better Place
‘Mistakes’ – ‘Brought Forth’
By Harry Bogosian
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
Theo’s having a real rough go of it, ain’t he? First he’s trapped by Hannah, then E.C., and now he’s being wrecked by Hannah while blindfolded and chained up? Can we give this poor boy a break? No? Only more suffering? Well, if you say we must.
It’s clear now that this is the final battle of the series. Mr. Bun has gathered all the mysterious pieces and assembles them by eating them?????? It’s a comedic panel because Mr. Bun is so cartoony but there’s something deeply unsettling about the way the mouth distends and his eyes slip down his face. Who or what Mr. Bun is remains unclear to me — I’m not confident in how he formed as he seems to be both Hannah’s creation and not, somehow being the only creature able to control terrors, something not even Hannah can do — but that is ultimately unimportant. Whether Mr. Bun is a subconscious manifestation like the Terrors or something connected to the creator beyond is made moot by his summoning of the creature from the very first set of chapters.
The reintroduction of “god” is a powerful page, not quite a full splash but the inclusion of the ever shrinking portraits of characters makes its presence all the more imposing. They are made miniscule by the swirling mass of blue, sinewy muscles (I think they’re muscles) and yellow eyes (maybe they’re teeth?) The successes of “A Better Place” are on display in these updates, from the clear motivations of characters shining through in their actions to the high octane fights & massive set-pieces that hinge on small, intimate moments. The tags offer levity while the descriptions offer greater insight and depth into the mechanics.
The story is barreling towards an end and it all sings in a minor key.
Chapter 3, Pages 6-10
By Lora Merriman
Reviewed by Jason Jeffords Jr
In the last update, we spoke on Merriman skipping over the cliff hanger from the previous chapter, and how it was a ballsy move, it worked out great. Well, Merriman didn’t make us wait too long to get back to the bridge (in real-time), with an update on Chandra hanging on for her life. Honestly, chapters 3, pages 6-10 doesn’t add much to the story, but it’s nice to see what’s happening on the bridge with Chandra. Not only is it nice to see her, but Merriman continues to write her as a great character. In this update’s case, we see her have remorse for what led up to the big accident.
I’ve said it before in the previous chapters, and I’ll say it for these few pages – I enjoy Chandra’s character a lot. For someone so young, she has the smarts and emotions that tower over some adults I know. This really makes her character feel like she has been through a lot, especially with the family history we keep seeing. Be that as it may, Merriman’s art shines just as well as the emotions being shown.
I hate heights. I hate heights so much that when a movie has a character in a situation with a high place I like to look away. I could watch the most gore-filled film and not be fazed, but heights make me sink away. With that in mind, Merriman’s use of the bridge suspending in the air with no place to land works wonders on my fear. Not only that, but she has Chandra hanging on for dear life that amps that feeling of terror. Nonetheless, that’s not the only emotion her art helps employ.
While Chandra is alone on the bridge trying to think of what to do she thinks of Reed. When she does this she cries out saying there is nothing she can do. Merriman is able to make the impact of this scene hit by the emotion strained across Chandra’s face, and the tears she sheds. But, she makes the emotions hit even harder by making the letters burst out of the bubble showcasing her scream.Continued below
For an update with not much story, it’s nice to see how Chandra is hanging out. However, at the end of the update, we have someone yell Chandra’s name. Now I don’t think someone else is on the bridge with her, but instead, we will go back to the previous flashback. Honestly, only time will tell!
Pages: Episodes 1-3
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane
I like to think of myself as someone who is refined and with good taste, putting on all the airs of high culture. In reality I’m pretty easy to please or at least entice. That ability to entice is key in the crowded space of webcomics and Webtoon specifically with more new series launching every week. One way to stand out from the crowd is a good name, not just a good name, a good pun name, and so when the trailer for “Suitor Armor” first appeared on the Webtoon Youtube channel I was intrigued. The pun name got me to click through and revealed a fantasy courtly romance about a magical suit of armor and a fairy girl trying to pass for human, in a setting that inherently highlights class markers and operates on coded performances! Now the only real question was Purpah’s comic all that good?
Purpah show excellent cartooning and a strong use of the vertical scrolling medium, though panel design and layouts are a bit basic. At first “Armor” is built around a strong and standard shot-reverse-shot structure, as the creator plays a series of similarly shaped panels off one another, using their expressive cartooning to show the varied and somewhat arch reactions everyone has. That sort of exaggeration can be a bit much for people, however, here it feels just right as it highlights the distance and difference between two of our main characters, Lucia, a Lady-in-waiting, and Kris the Princess soon to be Queen. After a time jump many years into the future that sort of setup continues as we see them go about a very important day as Kris’ wedding approaches. These formal considerations help to create a fair amount of intrigue into Kris’ nature, is she overcompensating her confidence to cover for nerves as she proudly proclaims the ability to ogle the local Knights and or is she just a vain class privileged woman. Without this formal play on distance and isolation, “Suitor Armor” would be more conventional and less interesting.
This sort of distancing also helps to show the character of Lucia, who despite being the main character barely says a word, though when she does speak it is insightful. Like Kris she is isolated for a different reason after being brought home by Kris’ father one stormy night. Each morning she gets up and puts on her costume to pass as perfectly human, binding her large fairy wings and using her curls to hide her pointy ears. Being a fairy in the human kingdom is not advised when each side is continually at war.
As the strip progresses Purpah sticks to their strengths but opens up more by going bigger. As the knightly tournament gets underway with the mysterious suit of armor taking on the eternal champion Baynard. They stick with the general patterning interims of pace and rhythm but break the panels up into opposing angular images that while distance fit with one another, unlike the previous paneling. It creates a real sense of action and emotion for their fight, culminating in a wonderful splash image. The duel between Baynard and the titular suit is one of the better action sequences I’ve read for a native Webtoons strip and worth checking out for that alone.
“Suitor Armor” show a lot of promise in the opening trio of episodes. The cartooning is at once generic and stylistically well-known but also just off enough that it stands out. The story it is telling is well trodden but with a new emphasis on racial passing and the nature of humanity presents new imaginations of those tropes that often appear in this sort of narrative.
Pages: Book 12 “The Train to Avalon Bay” Part 6 Pages 41-48
Written and Illustrated by Ron Randall
Colored by Jeremy Colwell
Lettered by Ken Brunzeak
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane
The ‘Train to Avalon Bay’ finally pulls into station but will Mercy and Molly make it there in time? ‘Train to Avalon Bay’ has been full of surprises and reversals of the narrative and stylistic variety. That continues into the final stretch as Randall does something, he, surprisingly, hasn’t done before. In between moments of villainous monologue, thinking he has one as Trass and Molly reach his spaceship, he makes another objectifying statement that is laced with an undercurrent of threatening sexual violence. That isn’t entirely unheard of in this series, there have been plenty of, to put it mildly, sexist pigs, who underestimate women at their own peril.
What Randall does here is show readers this moment as Trass practically licks his lips at the image of Molly climbing up the ladder. Randall has used speech before to highlight this retrograde and regressive view of women before, but here he pairs it with a visual representation that echoes hundreds of instances across media with varying degrees of threat but all sharing the same objectifying gaze. Normally these statements would be shown as part of a futile last stand before Mercy captures or kills them. Showing this clearly isn’t endorsement but it is a good example of how one can pair the two together to create an image moment that represents and condemns.
The final pages of ‘Train to Avalon Bay’ are a visual feast that play on reader assumptions and the way comics have trained an audience. In particular later on the previously discussed page 43, there is a sudden moment of blood splatter. Initially it is assumed Mercy has caught up and shot Trass, that this blood is his blood. This sequence is composed of two panels that draw the reader to look downward, at the blood. Only to realize that the blood was falling from somewhere and like Trass and Molly to slowly look up and on the page turn see Mercy bleeding and waiting in the ceiling of the ship. It’s a wonderfully executed moment.
Some other interesting reversals and shifts include the final showdown between Mercy and Trass. Or at least what passes for a showdown, Mercy was hopped up on all her stim pills just to buy her this split moment of surprise. She doesn’t have much left and neither does this comic. The staging and choreography is rougher and meaner than previous fights, ending in a spectacular moment of blood splatter that we just haven’t seen before. Sure, bodies have been obliterated but exploding like bloody sausage less so.
The ‘Trian to Avalon Bay’ is a fitting and violent end to this book of “Trekker.”