Wandering through the story:
(I know I'll use the word 'also' way too much
I'm not very good at writing reviews, and I hardly posses the talent to be consistent or logical, so I guess I'll just end up blabbering whatever comes to mind from the comics. Not sure if this is of any use or fun for anyone to read, but at least it was mostly fun to write.
So, first I must say that it felt really weird to look at the very first strips again; the art style has really improved and become more consistent nowadays. But, but, what else in the first couple of comics? Well, we get to meet the first characters and are already getting hints of their personalities. Lloyd's status as the Only Sane Man
(Tv-tropes warning!) seems pretty clear early on. A funny detail in comic #3
(not sure if it's intentional) is that it looks like Lloyd is turning the page himself. Clearly he wants to move on to the next scene.
Oh, and Matt in the background is a good detail, I myself missed it the first time I read the comic.
Then the party proceeds to find adventure and even even come across a rogue for the party. Who is really not too excited about the whole thing, but hey, with all the positively attuned people (hidden guilt or psychological problems do not count) the party needs a sulky cynic, who can also serve as easy comic relief.
Love his last comment in #6
. By the way, when did Lloyd take time to redeem criminals? Hmm, probably around the same time he grew his hair back, I guess.
The atmosphere in the first 10 strips is quite pleasant in general. A few jokes and getting to know the characters. Nothing too dramatic happens, but the story is just getting started. And the characters are funny enough for one to continue reading. The first subtle hints of Lloyd's past. Also, comic #10
is one of my personal favourites. Not sure why, I guess I just like the dialogue in that one. So Lloyd believes that anyone can be redeemed? Well, him being a paladin that isn't too surprising, but now that we know of the past it makes even more sense. He's I need of a second chance himself, and to be able to believe in that, he needs to give it to all others too. He seems like the kid of person to think that way.
The short encounter with the giant spider does not carry any strong plot relevance, but it does establish that the team consist of competent individuals, who can put up a fight even when caught off guard; even though their team work could use a little polishing. But then again, they just met, so... By the way, who's brilliant idea it was to sleep in a forest without anyone keeping watch anyway??
Or did Matt fall asleep on his watch shift? That wouldn't be hard to believe. And it becomes clearer and clearer that Janine is developing a serious fixation on Lloyd. At this point, it's still mostly funny.
Then they manage to find the dragon and a fight breaks out, which was expected. Though I wonder if it all could have been solved by talking hadn't Matt opened his mouth? The last panels in #20
could have more effect if the blast had left the party at least somewhat burned. Or if it was a warning shot, then maybe Tinder could have fired on the air above them? Because now it looks a little like the dragons breadth didn't have any effect on them. But it's a small thing. Anyhoo, fight begins! And it doesn't seem to go as well as our heroes would hope, or were expecting. Lloyd ends up trying to make a heroic sacrifice, in-character for him, and we hear a little more foreshadowing. It's fun to read these pages again, by the way, now that you have some sort of understanding of what they're talking about. Also, from Tinder's comments, we start to suspect that this fight is not as black and white as one could assume. Anyway, the team's situation gets lightened up by Matt's actions, who had a change of heart; character-development for him!, which is nice, but not very unexpected. The fight scene ends when Tinder suddenly surrenders (yeah, he was already beaten, but you still hardly expect a dragon to beg for mercy) and they have the talk they should've had I the first place.
Tinder turns out not to be evil, which obviously startles Lloyd somewhat. Think, he so much decided to change after that incident with the Plavaan, but now he's back to repeating his old mistakes. Must have felt pretty awful, good for him no one died this time.
Then again, if they had killed Tinder, would they have ever found out that he wasn't evil? Oh, the mystery; love Tinder's last line in #25
has a little peculiar start though, since Tinder starts to give a big explanation that no one had time to ask for, and of an incident that took place decades ago. It's not odd for the subject to be brought up, I just feel that it's a little sudden. A little more dialogue first might have worked better, at least in my humble opinion. The story that he tells however, is one of the best parts of the entire comic so far (again in my opinion), it's not that the happenings themselves would be particularly unusual, many children have seen their families murdered in the multiverse of fantasy stories (in non-fantasy too), but the way it's told is good. The virgin's blood thing, works as a nice comic relief and also Tinder's explanation of why he has no wish to go for a roaring rampage for revenge, deserves a notion. It is not preachy (it could easily be, if presented otherwise), he's just simply stating the reasoning why he doesn't feel he should to do it. Dragon joins the party, and we're off for the next part of the story.
What we get next is a few pieces of individual backstories, or actually more like hints, which works quite well in this place. Be it of something serious, or...well, quite childish, as in Matt's case.
There's not really an ongoing plot around yet, so one must keep the audience interested. And next stop is elfland, watch out for falling (half-)elves!
always makes me lol.
The following strips are pretty much about getting to know this new character, which is not too bad. And then we have the love potion incident, that manages to be both hilarious and disturbing at the same time.
Oh, and thank goodness Radic was around!
Fir helping with the spellcasting is a nice touch.
is a little textheavy, but the random passers-by help. In the last panel it is a little too easy to get confused of who she's talking about, even though the title offers some explanation. And I guess it is quite in-character for Serrin to just jump from one thing to another in a conversation, without realizing how it could confuse the other person. The scene change to Kago is interesting, finally some strong evidence of a larger plot
, though a little short (only one strip). Since it's a sort of answer to Serrin's question from the last page, and we return to that scene on the following page, I suppose it's more justifiable, but I still feel that two pages would have been better. It's a matter of taste, I guess.
Aand, slowed down by the little hindrances and small talk, the party arrives too late to visit the school after all. Funny how Radic doesn't believe they'd have any better luck on the following day. Wonder why is that? Does she already smell what way the plot is heading?
It's hard to be sure, (since the author revealed it herself earlier) but I believe that at least around now the reader would guess that the caffeinated half-elf is here to stay. And by the way, what the hell happened to that 'big trade caravan headed to Laria'?
The only ones we see going that way later are Gianna and Terrence... Hm, guess they were some other people then...
Next we meet the rest of Serrin's more or less crazy family
(but it's the good type of crazy). I must say, that IMHO the scene with the Peakanes works a lot better as a part of the archives than as a comic per week. Not because there would be anything major fault with it, but because at least I was getting a little impatient at this time. I mean, we were already past fifty comics, and even with the hints of Kago and the Plavaan, the plot didn't seem to have any clear direction yet. But, as I said, it doesn't matter as much when you read all the strips in one go. And mother bear Saphrin is endearing...and scary.
Say, how high is Tinder's Wisdom? Because he seems to be good at reading between the lines and with analyzing people.
Then it is goodbye to the elven lands and to Serrin's family. #56
is amusing, though I think it would have been better if we weren't told that anything won't happen to them. A little uncertainty in the background would not be a bad thing. Of the cart story arc I have few things to say, except that Matt's way of sitting I the cart funny, I wonder if the passed ruins will be seen again and that in #60
Matt apologises his behaviour to Serrin a bit too easily. I mean, just a little while ago he didn't seem to mind offending others too much. He's willingness to change his ways comes up later in the comic as well, but I don't feel like the reasons for it have really been explained yet. I get that #10 might have started it, as well as the obvious crush he has on Radic, but I hope we'll get to hear more about his motivations in the future.
And then we have the incident with the bandits. Well. Hmm. Eh, I don't really know how to put it, but if I'm allowed to be blunt...I must say that in my opinion this is the weakest part of the story so far.
I get that some Plavaan is needed to be encountered to set the grounds for the conflict that has been foreshadowed and that is all well; the basic plot of the arc is not too bad either; but it falls down because too many of the details feel off. Why did they leave Terrence guard the cargo alone? There were eight humanoids altogether, surely not all of them needed to go to the town! Why are some of the bandits tied up, when others are left walking free? In #74
I honestly doubt that anyone would really answer to a death threat with 'I know. And I deserve it', especially when the same person had on the last page loudly ad angrily declared why they were forced into this situation. It also feels odd that in #71
the first thing the hobgoblin woman says when asked about the others is of those who were spared and not about those who died. When your friends are killed you hardly start with praising the mercy the attackers showed. The bandits also come across as very generic characters, with no observable personalities. The end also feels slightly preachy and it feels like Ethan gives in a bit too easily, though he might just be easy to push around. By the way, where did Lute suddenly get 400 new inhabitants before #78
On the other hand, the arc is not only bad, #66
is a particularly good one and the accident where Matt shot the goblin kid and the scolding he got was well showed. Lloyd was quite convincing. I'm also a little surprised how at home Serrin seems to be in the fight and how cold-bloodedly she kills the goblin spellcaster.
It was in a fight sure, but obviously it wasn't her first battle. Perhaps she hasn't lived as sheltered as one could be led to believe...
And the battle is followed by some religious banter. This part I liked really much.
Especially the mythology strips were beautifully drawn and set, and the narration there was good. You could also hear it was told by a priest of Astrid. I like the design of the gods too. Nothing to do with this subject, but Gianna and Terrence are adorable
; so is Tinder I the treasure bag.
And the team got a name, nice.
Next mentionable scene comes when we meet the drow Kylie. Some old speculations get confirmed when we see her freaking out, calling our pure paladin a murderer. Aand it's time for an eagerly anticipated backstory!
Which Lloyd starts explaining perhaps a bit too quickly, but then again, that was a situation that would have been difficult to weasel out from. Anyhoo, getting to know Lloyd's past is intriguing and the story is quite well told too. New interesting characters walk to the scene. Lloyd grows up and lives his life without too much worries, or at least they don't touch him. But the signs for a coming personal -is disaster a fitting word? are obvious. And the actual massacre scene is really intense even if it is short.
It's also good that the Kagoans are shown as people before the bloodshed. They're not monsters, but brainwashed soldiers following orders. Clearly what they do is wrong, but it is understandable why they don't see it.
I think Lloyd's reactions are all in all quite believable, the shock, wanting to do something, not wanting
to die... And I personally like the revelation of Lloyd being gay; I suspected it a few strips earlier, but didn't believe you'd actually dare to go through with it. I was positively surprised.
Seriously, trying to find a main character of Lloyd's type turning out to be non-straight? That is not played for laughs at all? Good luck with that.
The reaction's to Lloyd's story are not too bad either. Serrin's obviously upset, Tinder... understanding as can be expected from him. What does Janine's backstory contain? I'm both curious and afraid to find out.
Matt's way of showing compassion, heh.
Then the camera jumps to present day Kago. Here things start to get really interesting. It seems even some higher up is having doubts. So he's summoning in hopes for guidance. You know, the book he has made me snicker when I first saw it, but in the light of recent events, I wonder. Did someone/something mess up his summon, or was it actually his own doing, since it's clearly not his speciality, hmm. Anyway, Rust appears. And even if you don't translate his mumbling you get the feeling that there's something fishy going on... And in the next few strips it becomes very clear that this fellow is definitely no angel; if the other hints were not enough, the fact that the murdered a helpless old man in cold blood is pretty hard to miss. The read eyes through the transparent curtain is a nice detail. It is perhaps a little unclear what goes on in the room and I what order, though. But I suppose Rust murdered lord Byron during the short moment the wards were down and was acting the rest of the time.
And then he's chosen to become Mage General, things in Kago got just even more darker (can you put it like that?). The perspective in the last panels of #112
seems a little off though. And I know this has been said several times before, but I too still think that Miles' scar should be more visible if it really is that big deal. Wonder what he and Lexington are up to... Obviously something they couldn't discuss in an open corridor.
Back to team Gale then. First, love the name of the inn!
Second, Lloyd's look in panel five is great, poor fella doesn't know what he should say.
I like the strip overall too, though I find it a little odd that it's 'even Tinder is here', instead of Serrin, since it she who was most upset. Tinder even spoke for
Lloyd back there. Though he doesn't seem to be too thrilled about the idea of getting drunk.
The story has interesting characters and is balances quite well between comedy and serious drama. It also has a nicely non black-and-white tone, hold on to that.
The only important character that is actually hinted to be truly evil is Rust, and perhaps Perry too. The others seem more like they're just misguided and not really vicious themselves. The story is often developed by small hints and important facts are stated without too much drama, so you can never know what was really relevant until later. This is a good thing. I also love the small snarky comments every now and then, usually coming from Matt. They make me lol. Also the mentions of at least seemingly random people and places make the world feel more alive.
There are some critiques that I can come up with though. First of all, the members of the party frequently quarrel with each other, but all these small fights get solved pretty quickly, and everyone are eager to apologise for their rude words, with no hard feelings left hanging. This seems a bit...I dunno, I just don't think that people are that kind and understanding so often. I can see it being in-character for, say, Lloyd or Serrin, but not everyone. You could also work a little on transitions between the strips. Especially with those that come directly after each other chronologically. The dialogue doesn't always flow as well as it could. The speech bubbles could be positioned with more care, it's still occasionally a little confusing in which order they should be read.
...Is that all? Am I finally done? Woo! Okay, need to end this with some nice comment. Well, what can I say really, this is a good comic and I have a good time reading it.
Hey, I wouldn't write anything this long about it if I didn't like it.
I think this is actually the longest single text I've ever written in English...cool. Hope there weren't too many annoying errors. ^^'
Oh, and my personal favourite comics are: