The Webcomics Weekly is back in your life. This week it’s an “Ode to our youth” because you’re never too young to feel old. As always, we have continued coverage of “Lavender Jack” as it enters its third act of season three. As well as origin stories in “Lore Olympus”.
By Dan Schkade (writing and art), Jenn Manley Lee (color)
Reviewed by Michael Mazzzacane
The third act “The Nightjar” begins in “Lavender Jack” with increasingly complicated matters for our heroic vigilante and league of like-minded benefactors. In this storm of complications, there’s the potential for juicy character drama that might require us to re-evaluate our thoughts on antagonists and protagonists.
The Lavender League explains how Lord Hawthorne, or Lilac Jack as Sir Mimley suggests, somehow went from dead to only “nearly dead”. A fall from six stories and a broken back will do that to you. It pushes the series into mad science, which is perfectly in keeping with the period. And low and behold Schkade gives us a NUN Mad Science! Sister Rex, a somewhat ironic name given her Latin origins as a king – here she became the mistress of most of the dead. The eye patch and triangular design elements give the character a chaotic energy. Jenn Manley Lee colors everything in sickly green tones, puts it on top and just creates Skaven vibes, like a mix of Throt the Unclean and Ikit Claw. It’s a wonderful sequence that revolves around small moments of humanity and its denial. While the non-Lord Hawthorne is mostly calm, mostly lively, Schkade highlights the smallest of looks in this hulking figure that elicits a sense of pity. This sentiment is denied by Lady Hawthorne shortly afterwards as she states that her husband is “dead”. It’s not a movement to bring about redemption, but acknowledging the basic humanity in everyone, even arch-villains, would be a very “Lavender Jack” movement.
Otherwise, these episodes are mostly setups at the start of the third act. It is functional and well structured.
A new character, Nightjar, is the other big introduction. I originally thought Nightjar would turn out to be a Sheik/Masked Fighter Genkai reveal, maybe that’s a bit too anime even for this eclectic series. More likely, Nightjar is functionally a Lady Shiva assassin with a past with Ferrier, which will be its own case of delicious drama. It’s brief but Schkade does a good job of giving him a unique fighting style that helps him stand out. Could probably use some of that Lavender Jack armor though.
Updates on Sundays
By Rachel Smith
Reviewed by Mel Lake
Origin stories and trauma processing are ahead! This set of chapters brings back the traumatic events involving Apollo and his assault on Persephone, so consider the subject sensitive and protect yourself, friends.
When we stopped, Hades was escorting Persephone into the underworld, showing her how mortal souls are treated when they die. But even in the underworld, the paparazzi are persistent. When they are caught together, the camera flash triggers a flashback for Persephone. She remembers Apollo taking pictures of her without her consent and recoils, then seethes with rage. Her eyes turn red and she looks almost scary when confronting the reporter, but when Hades asks about it, she chickens out. Persephone again refuses to tell Hades that his girlfriend tried to kill her and returns home.
Once there, she opens up to Artemis and Eros about her crush on Hades. A girls’ night out with Eros ensues, and we learn how the mismatched pink and purple duo get stripped down to be roommates. The flashback of Artemis offering her place to Persephone isn’t very interesting, but he brings Demeter back and gives her a killer costume to wear. But it’s yet another example of Persephone being led and then saved, this time by Artemis. We already know how horrible and paranoid Demeter is, and we already know that Artemis feels bad for Persephone, so this interlude doesn’t add much and reinforces the idea that Persephone is helpless. This version of Persephone chafes at her restrictions, but we rarely see her act against them, so she seems pathetic at times.
Earlier in the story, I stated that I loved Eros even though he kidnapped a human woman to save his life and didn’t tell her what he was doing or why. He’s characterized as a big, caring doofus, though, and his joy at seeing the possibility of love blossom is a fun change of pace from Persephone’s naïve (bordering on stupid) actions. He can see into the thoughts of anyone who isn’t a virgin, which is a handy plot and, more importantly, means Persephone is able to confide in him without having to put her thoughts into words. It’s a touch of real life that I appreciated, as it can be very difficult for sexual assault survivors to talk about the experience. Persephone locked him away, not wanting to process him because it would be too painful, which also seems very true to real-life trauma.
We leave with Persephone having a night off with Eros and agreeing to see a therapist, which seems like a big step for her. This comic ranges from goofy Greek parody to trope-y romantic comedy to beautiful fantasy to emotional drama, so your enjoyment of the story really depends on whether you’re hooked on the characters or the romance promised. If you’re still reading “Lore Olympus,” I’m sure you’re invested in Persephone’s struggles and want to see her process her trauma. I’m in a bit more of a skeptical position as I don’t really like Persephone and I’m not entirely sure why telling this story as a romance seemed like it should still include sexual assault as a theme. But since he did, I’m glad he handled the subject with care.
Ode to our youth
Episodes 1-8: “She’s Gone” – “Why Can’t You Get a Job?” »
Updates: daily (free; complete with coins)
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
Ahh to be young and carefree. When you hear this sentence, what does it make you think of? Being 8 or 9 years old and running around where there were no adults? Being 14 and hanging out with new friends? Being in college and partying all night? Being in your twenties or thirties, without the burdens that come with many decades of life? Whenever you are transported, this idea of youth is inseparable from freedom and simplicity. Or, maybe, it was once.
“Ode to Our Youth” is about Yongsu, a young man in his twenties who, in “Kaiji” fashion, finds himself stuck with a debt that isn’t his. This debt then sends his already shaky life into a downward spiral thanks to the particularly special brand of Capitalist Hellscape we found ourselves in. While drawing from Korean society more than American, the parallels and struggles are all too familiar to most millennials and older generations. Z but with the universality that makes it work for everyone.
Throughout its first eight chapters, “Ode” deftly weaves a tapestry of hardship and humanity, establishing a cast of characters that slowly builds with their own weaknesses and strengths. I’m hesitant to praise the characterizations because none of them are that deep yet, except for the main character. They’re archetypes, well-acted, but don’t have much time to outgrow their role in the story yet. That doesn’t make them any less compelling – Jin-Tae’s immigration status, Hero Bong Pal’s reluctant debt collection, Yongsu’s ultra-bad luck combined with his slubish personality – but it leaves the story superficial.
This is especially true considering that the only two major female characters to date are – Jinhee (MLM involved [ex] Girlfriend) and Jeong-A (potential love interest.) Since we know the full extent of the series – 35 episodes – and there hasn’t been much more to establish these two as people by the way. Episode 8, it’s hard for me to judge whether or not I’m just on the cusp of these developments, or if we’re far enough away to call it. Still, in a series where most of the characters are broad, that’s less of a glaring problem at the moment.
The most compelling aspect of “Ode to Our Youth,” however, is its art style. While the line art of these opening chapters isn’t the most confident, the emotions in each panel are. The comic has a soft feel, helping to anchor the tone, well the best way to put it is “French sentimentalist film”. Everything is bordered either by the fine and trembling contour, or defined by the limits of the watercolors, especially in the backgrounds.
It’s soothing and leads to some wonderful panels, like when, in Episode 5 – “Killing Me Softly”, Yongsu calls Jintae from a phone booth. He is in shadow, small compared to the world and the background, which is colored in varying greens and yellows, oranges, pinks and blues, creating an aura of a restless sunset, but magnificent. I think that’s the image that will stick with me when I think of “Ode to Our Youth”. And for that alone, it’s worth reading.