The Webcomics Weekly is back in your life. This week we have the debut of “Vixen:NYC” the second DC x Webtoon collaboration. We also have continuing coverage of “Lore Olympus” and the conspiratorial “The Uniques”.
By Rachel Smythe
Reviewed by Mel Lake
It finally looks like Zeus might face the consequences of his actions this week on “Lore Olympus.” Really? Is that possible? This comic has been ongoing for almost one hundred episodes, but it might actually happen. Maybe. I’m not holding my breath.
In this set of episodes, though, everybody hates on Zeus. From Ares to Hera, and finally Demeter via flashback, it’s not the finest hour for our favorite party god of lightning. (He even tries turning into a swan to escape Ares’ wrath, which is a funny joke, until you think about it too hard.) As usual, when Zeus is backed into a corner, he calls his bros, Poseidon and Hades, who fail to bail him out, then take him out partying. The relationship between the trouble trio is one of the more realistic and endearing familial ties in “Lore Olympus,” even though it’s shown to be unhealthy. Zeus and company meddle in human affairs, with human women, seemingly without remorse or consequences. For better or worse, these gods will be boys.
In the slapstick antics between Zeus and Ares, the art style gets, well, slapstick, in a way that I don’t think we’ve seen before. It’s inconsistent, and seems strange in a romance comic, but does drive home the fact that two gods are behaving like children. It’s another example of the art style evolving over time, and in this case, looking very rushed. The inconsistencies in Persephone’s character design are so common now that I’ve mostly gotten used to them. But it does seem like a shame to rush the strip so much to meet deadlines when the earlier artwork was so stunning and original. When the bad boy god trio makes a trip to the mortal realm and go undercover, they’re given human skin colors, which just looks so odd. Not good. Never thought I’d be rooting for Zeus to be purple again, but yeah, Zeus always needs to be purple.
I stopped reading at a moment that might be pivotal to the ongoing saga of Persephone trying to stand up to her abuser, Apollo. Then again, this plot point is sometimes dropped in favor of the ongoing workplace romance between Hades and Persephone, or minor character drama. So we’ll have to see what happens and if Persephone can stand up for herself for once.
And finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the two best things about “Lore Olympus,” in my very biased opinion: Poseidon, and dogs. Poseidon has gotten zero character development or backstory thus far. He takes the time to go on a beer run before responding to Zeus’s “code red,” and I love that for him. And, of course, during their brief stint in the mortal realm, Hades picks up another dog. I’m always here for another dog, even if Hades already has too many.
By Comfort and Adam (art and story) Color Flats by various
Reviewed by Michael Mazzacane
The less gross Mark Millar vibes continue in this batch of strips for “The Uniques” as a shadowy governmental, if not larger, conspiracy is revealed, and Hope goes to her first day of school.
So far my biggest hang up with this series isn’t the art itself but how it’s structured. These strips are largely boring to look at, consisting of a series of square shapes arranged in a strip. The panel structure isn’t that far off from newspaper strips or the original iteration of “Bloodstained”, but they just lack flair. It seems to be due to the uniform gutter space between panels, it sets up an unbroken rhythm. Meanwhile the top of Episode 5, a flashback to the mass bombing of 1994, breaks up this rhythm and features a rare vertical rectangle that elicits the sense of waking up and dawning of consciousness that is shown in the individual panels. The content and storytelling in the individual panels is all well done. It’s interesting going back to such an old strip and seeing the creative team figure out how to make vertical strips work.Continued below
Issues with strip formatting aside, the writing in this strip continues to be the thing that has me hooked. “The Uniques” has a sprawling cast with multiple generations of heroes, or well the aftermath of generations since most of them are dead. This is clearly Hope’s story, but Comfort and Adam have done a good job of making the rest of the cast distinct through character design and smartly writing moments that express character as well as move the plot forward. There’s a certain teen melodrama quality to it all, but that also is used to effectively write and create the sense of relationships everyone has with one another. Especially as Hope deals with waking up from a two-year coma.
“The Uniques” continues to be a solid read and interesting artifact to look at for how these sorts of strips evolve over time.
Written by Jasmine Walls
Inked by Manou Azumi
Storyboarded by Omar Vallejos (ep 3)
Background Illustrated by Toby Fan & Itsuryuu (ep 3)
Rendered by BBM
Flatted by Hailey Stewart & Jean Kim (ep 2)
Lettered by Mycha Myers
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
The latest DC x Webtoons collaboration has dropped and it’s continuing the tradition of being a solid comic on its own and an excellent introduction of these characters to a new generation. Following in the footsteps of their YA graphic novel line and Young Justice, “Vixen: NYC” stars a fresh out of high school version of Mari Jiwe aka Vixen in 2022 as she navigates The CityTM, college, and the mysterious necklace that seems to attract all the animals around her, which mostly consists of rats, pigeons, seagulls, and squirrels. She should probably steer clear of Jersey or she’ll go full Disney Princess.
The comic is bouncy, with comedy meant to buoy the tone and provide a contrast to the hyper-serious superhero stuff brewing in the background rather than to produce laughs. I did laugh a few times though, especially when everyone is clowning on Bruce Wayne – my favorite pastime. I generally like the tone of the comic so far, even if it is reminiscent of the early stages of, well, most action/slice-of-life webtoons I’ve read in the last few years. It’s all set-up and it’s all good, competent set up but it’s not doing anything that makes me go “you need to read this NOW.”
Part of that, I think, is down to the art’s pacing, and to a lesser extent the style. The comic is just doing too much too fast. I know we want to get to the superheroics quickly but I wanted to see more of Mari’s time in NYC figuring out her powers, having regular college problems, finally befriending Beast Boy aka Changeling aka Garfield Logan, etc. More of the slice-of-life the comic is doing well creates a solid foundation from which the background machinations can flourish and complicate the narrative rather than feeling like we’re jumping from one scene to the next without really tying them together.
Moreover, the art for “Vixen” is sleek and modern but a little too processed. It leads to an uncanny valley effect on some effects, like in episode two when Mari is anime girl running down a hallway with an energy bar in her mouth, or when she’s got a thinking face on in front of the subway map. Other panels, though, like when she gets rat powers in episode 3 or Batman’s unnaturally square chin, are great and are complemented by the style. Still, the former outweighs the latter so far and I can only hope the balance shifts because this really is a wonderful re-introduction of these characters.
Also, you’re not reading those credits wrong. There are a LOT of different people working on this and I honestly have troubling knowing who did what art-wise. Perhaps that’s why it feels so wobbly? Whatever the case, regular DC readers’ mileage may vary with “Vixen: NYC” but it fits right in on the web with a solid core and the room to grow into something great.