The Webcomics Weekly is back in your life. This week, Elias is feeling nostalgic for red flip phones and small square screens illustrated with loose lines and watercolors. The third act of the third season of “Lavender Jack” comes to a climatic conclusion. “Lore Olympus” deals with the aftermath of being on your feet, which can only be akin to when Ross nearly married Emily in England on Friends
Reviewed by Elias Rosner
Ah 2008. I remember this year. I had just gotten my first cell phone, a red flip phone with a small square screen on the outside, the Wii was about a year old and I couldn’t beat the Second Hookshot boss from Twilight Princess, and I was preparing to enter a new school with new friends and new challenges. Life seemed simpler. It wasn’t, of course, but it seemed to be. Nostalgia is a funny thing like that.
It was inevitable that the wave of nostalgia would hit the 2000s, but I never expected to feel it myself, or that my pick this week, “It’s On”, would elicit such a reaction from me. The sense of place in “It’s On” is inspiring despite the actual visuals being suggested locations rather than fully realized environments themselves. I was transported back to 2008 by the mundane conversations of So-Won and Woo and the CLICK of a sliding phone that closes. It’s a thing of magic and fantasy, but it serves to create a safe distance between the present and the past.
The basic premise of “It’s On” is, well, very basic. So-Won and Woo left Korea a few years ago to live with their aunt in Los Angeles. We follow them as they navigate elementary and high school, respectively, and life in the United States, the good and bad that comes with it. The story itself begins when So-Won meets his new neighbors, a mother and son, and who would have guessed, but Sam, the son, just happens to be in So-Won’s class.
Like I said, a basic setup, but executed efficiently. Sokomin’s art is very soft, with an almost airy quality, thanks to the loose line art and watercolor/marker type colors. This isn’t always the right fit, like how the lack of solid environments can make the comic detached from the world, or character outlines can look unfinished rather than simplified for comic effect. Still, I was engrossed in the slow, deliberate pace of the comic.
Watching these two interact with each other and the world around them is hugely entertaining and deeply relatable: they feel like real siblings, right down to the serious but not serious feuds. So-Won is brash and outgoing while Woo is more reserved and circumspect. I have a lot of questions about where we might go, but it’s all small scale stuff, which is good! That’s what I want from this kind of comic at this point. It’s also telling that we haven’t yet met any adults for good – that is, seen his eyes – other than the neighbor’s mother. I wonder if that’s an indication of something or just a stylistic choice. Either way, “It’s On” turned out to be a solid slice-of-life drama with a tender heart at its center that helps hold the more fragile aspects together. We’ll just have to see how much stronger his pace gets in the future.
By Dan Schkade (writing and art), Jenn Manley Lee (color)
Reviewed by Michael Mazzzacane
The third act comes to a punchy conclusion that just promises more family drama in the best way and lots of old grudges. Dan Schkade writes clearly with the if you haven’t seen the body rule in mind when old enemies return. (Yes, we’ve seen Hawthorne’s body and now it’s a Golem, but you know what I mean.) They just flex the structural muscles in this trio of episodes concluding the third act by building it around from a central location and turning it all into one piece. , a heist caper in part.
Episode 107 really leans into the idea of the reader as an observer-voyeur, structuring the strip around Nightjar’s surveillance of the party downstairs. This gaze is reinforced by the scrolling of the reader in the strip which creates a paradoxical unity. Spatially, it all takes place within the same frame, but it also flows freely in space as we move from the intricacies between Mimley and Lady H to Ducky just lashing out at his former employer with his words. Schkade has a good habit of writing witty dialogue, but Ducky in this trio of strips has nothing but real daggers to plunge into people. And then Ferrier and Crabb arrive too! 107 is just a good example of structuring a great group scene together, it shows how much more the Hellfire Gala could have been.
108 is a good example of how to present everything to the audience in a satisfying way. It’s not subtle, writes Schkade, the team goes through everything and sets it up. What makes it engaging is twofold, first it is contextualized by a practice session between Mimley and Crabb. The other part is Schkade, and more importantly, Jenn Manley Lee has just come together to produce some fantastic art. Lee changes his normal rendering style to something flatter and, against the background of Schkade’s line art, creates a set of images that best resemble Michael Chow’s Golden/Silver Age reprint work for the comics. DC.
The third act finale, episode 109, takes all of that and adds an extra drop of mayhem. Lee’s coloring stands out again when navigating the low light setting and large amounts of black ink. The set of muted colors reminded me of Gregory Wright’s work with Tim Sale – or Tim Sale’s watercolors by himself. A standout moment in all of this is Crabb calling his own punch. It all really works and adds to the drama like little clues about who Nightjar is (“Nina” is the new “Rosebud”).
Act III is behind us and now it’s on to Pilaf Island, which is easier a food reference or things will suddenly get very “Dragon Ball” we’ll have to read more to find out.
Updates on Sundays
By Rachel Smith
Reviewed by Mel Lake
Facing the aftermath of being raised by his girlfriend (fiancée?) Minthe, Hades can’t help but contact Persephone, even though he knows he shouldn’t. In the final set of episodes, we learned that the pair had met years before in the mortal realm, but Hades doesn’t remember the encounter because he was drunk. He requests access to his memory of the event, bringing the Fates into the world of “Lore Olympus”. Given the power of fates and the fact that they see the fates of even gods, I look forward to their inclusion in the story.
Along with the Fates and another contrived encounter between Hades and Persephone, this set of updates continues the endless drama between Minthe and the rest of the world. She attacks Hades in a truly bizarre confrontation that sends him into a traumatic spiral, only to be saved by Hera. Minthe’s character arc continues to cause confusion. It’s the foil that gets in the way of the main duo, but it’s also a castaway that can’t do anything right and is manipulated at every turn. It’s designed to earn the reader’s contempt but I find myself pitying it more than anything. Likewise, here we learn the origin of the relationship between Hera and Hades, and that it involves at least some romantic banter. This might be true for the interconnected romantic webs of the gods, but it seems like an unnecessary complication.
Episode 80 includes a nice musical soundtrack of Hades and Persephone’s conversation after an awkward dinner with Zeus and Hera, giving a nice mood to the scene in the garden. This multimedia approach brings something different to this long history.