The Webcomics Weekly #182: Late 00s Nostalgia Will Make you Feel Old (4/19/2022 Edition)

By | April 19th, 2022
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

The Webcomics Weekly is back in your life. This week, Elias is feeling nostalgic for red flip phones and tiny square screenes shown through loose line work and water color. The third act of “Lavender Jack” third season comes to a climatic conclusion. “Lore Olympus” deals with the aftermath of being stood up which can only be akin to that time Ross nearly married Emily in England on Friends

It’s On
Episodes 1 – 4
Updates: Fridays
By Sokomin
Reviewed by Elias Rosner

Ah 2008. I remember that year. I had just gotten my first cell phone, a red flip phone with a tiny, square screen on the outside, the Wii was about a year old and I was failing to beat Twilight Princess’s Second Hookshot boss, and I was gearing up to enter a new school with new friends and new challenges. Life seemed simpler. It wasn’t, of course, but it seemed that way. Nostalgia is a funny thing like that.

It was inevitable the nostalgia wave would hit the 2000s but I never expected to feel it myself, nor for my pick this week, “It’s On,” to elicit such a reaction from me. The sense of place in “It’s On” is inspiring despite the actual visuals being suggestions of locations rather than fully-realized environments themselves. I was transported to 2008 by the mundane conversations of So-Won and Woo and by the CLICK of a slide-phone shutting. It’s a thing of magic and of fantasy but one which serves the purpose of crafting a safe distance between the now and then.

The basic premise of “It’s On” is, well, very basic. So-Won and Woo moved from Korea a couple years back to live with their aunt in LA. We follow them as they navigate elementary and high school respectively as well as life in the United States, the good and the bad that comes with it. The story itself kicks off when So-Won meets their new neighbors, a mother and son, and who would’ve guessed but Sam, the son, just so happens to be in So-Won class.

Like I said, a basic set-up, but one which is executed effectively. Sokomin’s art is very soft, with an almost airy quality to it, thanks to the loose linework and watercolor/marker-like colors. It’s not always the right fit, like how the lack of solid environments can make the comic feel untethered from the world, or the character’s outlines can feel unfinished rather than simplified for comedic effect. Still, I was engrossed in the slow, deliberate pace of the comic.

Watching these two interact with each other and the world around them is immensely entertaining and deeply relatable: they feel like real siblings, right down to the serious-but-not-serious squabbles. So-Won is brash and outgoing while Woo is more reserved and circumspect. I have many questions about where we might be going but they’re all small-scale stuff, which is good! That’s what I want from this kind of comic at this point. It’s also telling that we have yet to meet any adult in earnest – i.e. seeing their eyes – other than the neighbor’s mom. I wonder if this is an indication of anything or just a stylistic choice. Either way, “It’s On” has proven itself to be a solid slice-of-life drama with a tender heart at its center that helps hold the shakier aspects together. We’ll just have to see how much stronger its beat gets in the future.

Lavender Jack
Episodes 107-109
Schedule: Tuesdays
By Dan Schkade(writing and art), Jenn Manley Lee(color)
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane

Act three comes to an impactful conclusion that promises just more family drama in the best way and lots of old grudges. Dan Schkade clearly writes with the rule of if you didn’t see the body in mind as old foes come back. (Yes we saw Hawthornes body and now he’s a Golem, but you know what I mean.) They also just flex structural muscles in this trio of episodes concluding the third act building it all around a central location and turning everything into one part ensemble piece, one part heist caper.

Continued below

Episode 107 really leans into the idea of the reader as voyeur-observer, structuring the strip around the Nightjar’s surveillance of the party down below. This gaze is reinforced by the reader scrolling through the strip which creates a paradoxical sense of unity. Spatially it all takes place in the same setting but it also flows freely through space as we go from niceties between Mimley and Lady H to Ducky just serrating her former employer with her words. Schkade has a good habit of writing witty dialog but Ducky in this trio of strips is given just real daggers to plunge into people. And then Ferrier and Crabb show up too! 107 is just a good example of structuring a big group scene together, it shows how the Hellfire Gala could’ve been so much more.

108 is a good example of how to lay it all out for the audience in a satisfying way. It isn’t subtle, Schkade writes that the team just running through everything and putting it together. What makes it engaging is twofold, first it’s contextualized by a sparring session between Mimley and Crabb. The other part is Schkade and more importantly Jenn Manley Lee just come together to produce some fantastic artwork. Lee changes their normal rendering style for something flatter and in the context of Schkade’s linework create a set of images that look like Michael Chow’s Golden/Silver Age reprint work for DC comics in the best way.

The finale to the third act, episode 109, takes all of this and adds an extra drop of chaos. Lee’s coloring again stands out as they navigate the low light setting and copious amounts of black ink. The muted color set reminded me of Gregory Wright’s work with Tim Sale – or Tim Sale’s watercolor stuff by himself. A standout moment in all of this is Crabb calling their own sucker punch. It all just really works and adds to the drama as small hints at who the Nightjar is (“Nina” is the new “Rosebud”).

Act III is behind us and now it’s off to the Isle of Pilaf, which is easier a reference to food or things will suddenly get very “Dragon Ball” we’ll have to read more to find out.

Lore Olympus
Episodes 75-80
Updates Sundays
By Rachel Smythe
Reviewed by Mel Lake

Dealing with the aftermath of being stood up by his girlfriend (fiance?) Minthe, Hades can’t keep himself from contacting Persephone, even though he knows he shouldn’t. In the last round of episodes, we learned that the pair had met years before in the mortal realm, but Hades doesn’t remember the encounter because he was drunk. He requests access to his memory of the event, bringing the fates into the world of “Lore Olympus.” Given how powerful the fates are, and the fact that they see the destinies of even the gods, I’m looking forward to their inclusion in the story.

Other than the fates and another contrived meeting between Hades and Persephone, this set of updates continues the endless drama between Minthe and the rest of the world. She attacks Hades in a truly bizarre confrontation that sends him into a traumatic spiral, only to be rescued by Hera. Minthe’s character arc continues to confuse. She’s the foil who gets in the way of the main duo but she’s also just a trainwreck who can’t do anything right and is manipulated at every turn. She’s designed to earn the reader’s scorn but I find myself pitying her more than anything. Similarly, we learn the origin of Hera and Hades’ relationship here, and that it involves at least one romantic dalliance. This might be true to the interconnected romantic webs of the gods but it seems like an unnecessary complication.

Episode 80 includes a lovely musical soundtrack to Hades and Persephone’s conversation after having an awkward dinner with Zeus and Hera, lending a nice ambiance to the scene in the garden. This multimedia approach brings something different to this long-running story.

//TAGS | Webcomics

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