The Webcomics Weekly is back in your life. For the 200th time! That’s a lot of webcomics to discuss and cover and more appearing every day. We’ll change the format a bit in the future because doing it the same way can get a bit cumbersome after a while. What a great digital birthday number without a sudden change.
“The Black Artifact” – “Alios”
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
I should sort this out first: Webtoon Factory’s app is pretty clunky. I’ve read a few series about it now and although the scrolling is smooth and the interface is simple it still feels like it’s a bad day far from crashing and for some reason the likes don’t not work on mobile. Hope they fix this issue soon. But I’m not here to talk about the app or the company behind it, I’m here to talk about “Illyne”, a fantasy comic that seems to be part of a much larger series but is able to stand up alone. Most.
“Illyne” follows its titular character as she is sent to investigate why all the artifacts of the lands, supposedly eternal magical rocks that have unique traits like Earth, Wind, Fire, Heart, are turned dark, losing all their power. She is accompanied by Lux, a new recruit to the order. Together they must unravel the mystery, find out what happened to the last person to investigate, and survive the experience. It’s been a while since I read a high fantasy comic and “Illyne” doesn’t disappoint in that regard.
Features such as large rolling fields, jagged mountains, magic in everyday life, and pseudo-medieval European fashion and politics abound. But rather than feeling generic, Papiyou’s art creates a special sense of place. You have the impression that he was there, that he saw these panoramas, then that he painted these characters there. Considering it’s a European webcomic, that could very well be the case.
That painterly gaze is definitely one of the great strengths of the comics, seeing as the story itself is so simple. It’s weird to say but my biggest problem with “Illyne” is actually its simplicity. This is partly due to the feeling that we are not seeing the full picture. Whether this isn’t the first introduction to these characters or this world an audience has had, a feeling I get from repeating the opening exploration before each chapter. I appreciate it, don’t get me wrong. However, it’s hard not to feel like the story is suffering because it doesn’t fully engage with one or the other.
The characters arrive as if we are supposed to know who they are and what they want and it’s hard to tell who’s new and so we’re supposed to know little or who’s old and we’re supposed to have the context to judge their actions and extrapolate. And yet the slow-growing conflict of simple history – finding out what happened to the artifacts and why others are trying to hide the truth – remains compelling via our two leads and though we don’t spend enough time on them. expand beyond their archetypes, the archetypes work for a reason. While I don’t claim more of everything, or know what’s gonna happen to everyone, like when I’m done EsotericI’m interested enough in the world to want to know the rest.
And since I only read the first half of the “season”, I may very well get my wish.
Updates on Sundays
By Rachel Smith
Reviewed by Mel Lake
Our pink protagonist is back! It turns out that all Hades had to do to find Persephone was wait a while and return to his office. But Zeus does not back down from his threat to arrest both Persephone and her mother Demeter. Anyone supporting them will have to exercise caution. Even though power is technically shared between Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon in a triarchy, Zeus is the one who rules Olympus and he’s not a happy camper.
Hades finds Persephone in the roots of a tree. The tree is also Persephone? She grew up as a pink Ent. The sequences where Persephone loses control of her hair and the leafy growths grow out of her body are surreal and eerie. (And awesome! I really liked this foray into an almost body horror vibe.) As Hades runs through the Underworld to reach him, there’s a large panel of him hovering over the city and a few vertical panels extended that make excellent use of the scrolling format. It reminds me of how cool this tape was in the beginning and how groundbreaking its use of the format was. While I hate that Persephone is, yet again, a passive participant in her own self-saved life, I enjoyed the panels that got us there. From a technical point of view, they are there.
In fact, I yelled at the work last time, saying it felt like the older episodes of Lore Olympus. Another shoutout to the artwork is due this time, but for an entirely different reason. Persephone looks nothing like her old self but I like her design in her lot. It’s less childish than it’s been lately and I much prefer it to the Persephone which looked like an anime kid. I love that Persephone ran away because she felt like she was back in control of her destiny but now that she’s back in damsel mode, at least she doesn’t look like a kid anymore. We also got to see Hecate unleashing her powers to help Persephone. Hecate is one of my favorites and it was great to see her go wild in the medical pool of Hades.
Next, we’ll find out Persephone’s perspective on what really happened to the mortal village she’s supposed to have destroyed. Then it looks like there will be the trial of the millennia as Persephone and Demeter answer for their crimes. (Or not! We’ll have to wait and see.)
By Comfort and Adam (art and history) Color Flats by various
Reviewed by Michael Mazzzacane
Part 5 draws to a close and Part 6 begins with a series of solid bands. That seems like low praise, but if you think about the narrative logistics this trio go through, it shows the improvement in turning those strips into webtoons and breaking down larger episodic units into micro-units. We have the conclusion of the fifth which meant putting it all together and adding a cliffhanger and then both of us dealing with that downfall and pushing the plot forward to make the sixth arc work. This trio of strips largely breaks down this way, each serving that function allowing for seriality and satisfying narrative units.
One of the sticking points of this tape has been how the action in the webtoon format can have a bit of friction, the choreography falls short of the format. The opening fight with Motherboard is an example of how good blocking in this format improves choreography. The motherboard shows off a bit and it’s a reflexive shoryuken. However, in all of this attention, the reader and character have tunnel vision and don’t see what’s coming until it’s too late and they’re captured. A pattern that occurs throughout the strip as the gang is captured by the Mall Goths and their evil boss Soccer Mom.
The opening of Part Six does not deal with the plot fallout of this cliffhanger, but offers another glimpse into what caused all the emotional fallout and trauma of when NYC was destroyed with the death of the mother of Kate “Kid Quick” Flynn. It’s a really effective articulation of the speedster’s powers and the juxtaposition of those powers, all the time they seem to have being fast-paced and time-limited. This lays the emotional groundwork for the odd couple dynamic between Quick and Monkey. Quick is a normal hero type. Monkey is the negative image that people associate with Juggalos and other rude behaviors. Writing-art working together to juxtapose and build these dynamics quickly and effectively.
The plot fallout of the twenty-second episode also comes with a content warning, which is a surprise given when it was released. They’re getting more and more mainstream, but it’s the right choice and as they say, nothing is actually shown, but it’s a sequence where it’s all there in subtext. The scene also sets up emotional stakes for the boys who treat them not as pawns but as characters looking to articulate their own agency and get out of those damn handcuffs without them exploding.
It took a bit but it’s really starting to work really well as a webtoon.