Story: Ryan Sohmer
Art: Lar Desouza (illustration), Ed Ryzowski (colours)
Writing parody is a double-edged sword. If done right, it can be utterly and totally hilarious and brilliant even biting – but it’s pretty hard to do it genuinely well and it can backfire just as easily. In this regard it helps that this new series is written by the guys behind two webcomics (Gutters and The Least I Can Do) that are familiar with cheekiness and parody.
The comic parodies the fantasy genres and specifically the cliched Elven/Wizard-y fantasy that is the benchmark in a post-Tolkien world. The protagonist is Cale’anon, who is some kind of elf belonging to a race of mean elves that do things like shoot arrows into things until it stops being funny – but our man here is determined to be the black (or in this case, white I guess?) sheep of the family and be heroic, good and all that jibber-jabber. Oh yeah, there’s also a darkly-comic and blood-thirsty warlock named Richard, a Minotaur named Krunch Bloodrage and what appears to be an Orc-ish sorceress named Gid who through a series of violently unfortunate events, become his travelling companions as the journey goes from bad to worse.
My favourite thing? Richard. Hands down, mainly because he is the voice through which the black-comedy, the fun-evil and the cheeky humour of the creators is clearly focussed. To quote his own self-introduction:
“I am RICHARD. Chief Warlock of the Brothers of Darkness, Lord of the Thirteen Hells, Master of the Bones, Emperor of the Black, Lord of the Undead. And Mayor of a little village up the coast. Very scenic during springtime, you should visit sometime.”
Apart from that though, the story itself is quite enjoyable. It’s a full-on romp through fantasy tropes – in fact they cover so much ground in this one issue that one wonders, “What next??” Because we get trolls, dwarves, an elf, a quest begins for a magical object, struggles with the morality of their actions (okay, its just Cale, the rest don’t care), a huge battle, caverns and even a LotR cameo moment with two half-lings that gave me many a chuckle.
The speedy pacing and near-constant stream of jokes is done pretty well, in fact even though it teeters close to “too-much” territory, it manages to be just enough. The art is also pretty good, drawn in the unique and instantly recognisable style of Lar Desouza and Sohmers other work and the visual jokes also come across pretty well.
The thing that bugged me the most? The lettering. Mainly that the placement and layout of the lettering is often not ideal. The pages are already overly crammed with content – which is kind of good for me because I get a lot of story in a shorter span, but it also means that space is at a premium and things on most pages are VERY busy so poorly planned out lettering can really spoil the flow as ones eye reads the comic. It may not seem like much, but if one looks at a really well lettered comic and one that is not so well done, the difference in reading experience is undeniable.
Also, as a long-time comic reader, I’m used to some comics now and again having wholly different bubbles and fonts and playing with such, but this one has a lot in just one comic. They should not overdo that as it feels unnecessary.
While the story, the jokes and all that are greatly entertaining, it can wear thin for some readers I’d wager. The problem is that while one does not expect great development in character and details in such a story, except for Richard and to a lesser extent with Cale, we get none of any real consequence. I like the basic and so I hope that in future issues they are able to give at least the whole core quartet a more distinct voice than just “cliched big strong guy” or “cliched cheeky evil woman” which is more or less what they are for now.
I would read more of this. My problems with the comics not-withstanding, for now the story remains entertaining and the backup content – strips starring “Little Dick” the warlock and a short tale about the troll “Tim” from the main story – really add to the chuckles and do give us something more to the story we just read. I remain uncertain about how they will maintain this dense-level of comic and fast pacing without burning through too much too fast, but until then this promises to be a fun, laugh-inducing comic that fantasy fans with a sense of humour should get a real kick out of reading.
Story Score: 7.2 / 10
Art Score: 6.6 / 10
Overall Score: 6.9 / 10