The Webcomics Weekly #168: New Year, New Webcomics (01/11/2022 Edition)

By | January 11th, 2022
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

The Webcomics Weekly is back in your life for the first time in 2022. So far, so good. This week we take a walk among the clouds with “Cloud Walker” and look at all “Little Tiny Things.” As well as continuing coverage of “Lavender Jack” which takes a sudden turn into Iron Harvest territory.

Cloud Walker
Episodes 1-4
Updates Thursdays
By kariyeen
Reviewed by Mel Lake

The setup for “Cloud Walker” is the same basic setup as many other action stories: Demons run rampant through the city and the only people who can stop them have superpowers and work for a mysterious secret agency. In this one, demons are called Arais, and the humans who work to stop them are Cloud Walkers. The specifics almost don’t even matter at this point because the audience is here for the action and the cool characters. “Cloud Walker” delivers on both accounts.

From the very first episode, we’re dropped into the action, following a group of humans fighting a demon girl who looks like she’s stitched together and uses her own blood to summon little flying fish who fight for her. This description doesn’t sound half as cool as it looks. The little fish summoned by the demon who dominates the first four episodes look surreal and almost anime-cute — but they’re deadly little creatures summoned by blood. That juxtaposition of cutesy anime-ish art and horror-tinged action would look right at home on the pages of Shonen Jump or in a Netflix anime series. The character designs are also anime-influenced, with brightly colored hair and the type of expressions you’d see in a manga.

All of this gives readers a very firm idea of what they’re in for as the story progresses, and kariyeen doesn’t waste much time before jumping into the protagonist’s powers awakening. This isn’t really a spoiler, since we know that mild-mannered Kai Wattana isn’t going to be just a humble waiter for the duration of the comic. He’s clearly special, and when his powers are revealed in the fourth episode, it’s with the sort of dramatic flair (not to mention impressive artwork) that you’d expect for a protagonist. Kai reminds me of Ichigo from the long-running series, “Bleach,” and he even has pinkish-orange hair like him, as well. Four episodes aren’t enough time to really get into his backstory, but the pacing in these four episodes is an impressive blend of just-enough character work and backstory to offset the action sequences.

The action sequences are where this series excels, though. The artwork has a cinematic feel to it that I don’t feel like I see very often in webcomics. It reads much more like a manga, where you can practically see how each panel would be animated and flow to the next. I’ve already used the word ‘impressive’ in this review but kariyeen’s mastery of movement and drawing from different camera angles to show movement is truly impressive. The coloring deserves a mention as well, with just enough colors to differentiate characters and not so much as to overwhelm the panels or become too much work for the artist to keep up.

“Cloud Walker” may not break any new ground story-wise but it’s executed so well that fans of action-horror manga like “Bleach,” “D. Gray-Man,” or “Claymore” will feel right at home reading it.

Lavender Jack
Episodes 92-93
Schedule: Tuesdays
By Dan Schkade(writing and art), Jenn Manley Lee(color)
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

The abuse drugs in order to deal with the trauma of being a unwilling cog in the military industrial complex that has your life’s work turned upside down is a common dramatic trope and likely something not far off from reality. It’s a serious subject and Schkade and Lee treat it seriously. They also get some fantastic comedy, visual and dialogic, out of the state Doctor Sampat is in. From the one liner about the gun. Crabb’s reaction to Sampat being blitzed. The name derived from the acronym to ministry of war. It’s not that these moments override the seriousness of the moment or make light of them, but they’re just peppered throughout in a skillful way. It lulls the reader into a state of complacency until suddenly Sampat reacts with sheer terror in her eyes as Crabb and Ferrier begin to ask about Abacus Ma and it sells the ‘why’ of her current state even more. The cartooning on the eyes is a good example of great basic storytelling through cartooning, with an assist from Lee with the overall sickly green everything to the environment. The base color of which is also Sampat’s eye color.

Continued below

And then the whole thing just turns into Iron Harvest and we see that Lavender Jack has been either turned into a populist symbol of Gallery or more accurately transformed into a propaganda symbol for Gallery. The present war in the series is I want to say alt-history WW2 technically, but there’s a WW1 style to the camps. Either way Schakde makes good use of the vertical scroll to connote a sense of height to the various Mecha that make up the artillery in this war. That sense of verticality runs through that entire sequence and helps to reinforce Duck’s Uncle class critique after Mimley went off and played hero.

Meanwhile the sense of an atom bomb-esque super weapon is uncovered by Crabb and Ferrier as well as our first clear images of evil-Lavender Jack. Schkade leans into the doppelganger sensibilities by making this iteration all sleek curves and new aged material. It’s refined but no sense of class. The final blow this Jack gives Crabb explodes the strip downward and continues a recent trend of using somewhat surreal large images to act as transitions from scene to scene instead of simpler and rougher cuts.

Little Tiny Things
Pages 20 – 26
Updates: Tuesdays & Thursdays
By Clover
Reviewed by Elias Rosner

Have you ever found yourself walking when, suddenly, a bug on a leaf or a sound in the distance triggers an overwhelming flood of sensations? Or, when someone says something particular, it pulls a small, seemingly insignificant moment from your past and places it at the forefront of your mind? It can be anything but now it’s there, with new meaning and new life. That is the feeling “Little Tiny Things” channels during its opening, but especially here from pages 20-26.

Primarily in black and white, with hints of understated pastels every so often and pages that are built horizontal rather than vertical, the world of “LTT” is open and expansive from the start. The wider page allows for a greater range of details per panel without it feeling cramped and for these wonderful pages where they create parallels between the past and the present. Their characters are lanky and expressive, moving through the world with exaggerated motions on one page and then deliberate, small steps on another. It’s a quiet story when it wants to be and loud when it needs to and it all feels achingly, lovingly human.

The story of “LTT” has yet to kick into gear and that’s good. It’s great, even. When done well, 26 pages of scene setting and character building is the best way to set the mood for a story such as this. Hell, I say it hasn’t kicked into gear but we’ve already gotten our first major interaction between characters, an establishment of the status quo (and how it is a change for our main character) and a very moving scene featuring a moth that represents the past and the ocean. Can I also gush about how Clover used sound effects to visually represent approaching the sea at night? Such good comicing!

“Little Tiny Things” has already launched itself into my “must reads” each week (even over Clover’s other two comics, “Go Get a Roommate” and “Headless Bliss.”) It’s the perfect way to start the year and will, I suspect, be the perfect way to spend all of 2022.

//TAGS | Webcomics

Michael Mazzacane

Your Friendly Neighborhood Media & Cultural Studies-Man Twitter


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