Friday, March 5, 2010

Das Unheimliche Tal: The Challenges of Zona

First off, let me congratulate the author of "Bardsworth" for being the first person to leave a comment on this blog. Although, let me point out that, a) Bardsworth is probably the best of the webcomics I've reviewed, and b) He's doing way too well to worry about what I think about anything. Actually, I kind of feel bad about my review, to be honest. Also, paranoid.

Anyway, the comic for today is called "The Challenges of Zona," this is the fourth page, stupid pop-culture reference in a fantasy milleu, fan-service character, and, of course, the art, and I can call it a day, and yet, for the sake of thoroughness, let's plough on.

Okay, first of all, the pop-culture reference happens because the main character was an unfortunate everyman named Mentl who was mysteriously transported to a fantasy land. So, uh, we're not exactly swimming in originality, here. Having been transported to middle-Narnia, he uses his musical skills to become a bard. This somehow gets him laid. This somehow, in ways that defy all logic and reason, leads to a towering blond barbarian woman repeatedly begging him to sleep with her, and even suggesting that they have threesomes....and that is not an idle suggestion. Oh, wait, and he's the fucking chosen one! And he's super-endowed!

The other main characters are scantily-clad women who throw themselves at Mentl whenever he plays his mighty mandolin and various things who try and fail to kill Mentl. Anyone who says that these characters exists for any other reason than to provide fanservice and glorify Mentl are fucking liars.

Now, I suppose that this webcomic could be a very sophisticated deconstruction of fantasy tropes. Then I saw this page, and well, that ended that line of thought rather abruptly. Yeah, apparently Mentl accesses his deus-ex-machina powers by singing pop-rock. Now, you can do that if you want, but if you're going to go down that road, you can't turn it around and pretend that the plot is anything other than absurdist comedy. So, "heartwarming" scenes like this, beyond being somewhat hacky in general, cannot coexist with Mentl killing his enemies with "Wild Thing."

Okay, then there's the art. Someday, maybe not so far in the future, we'll have perfected 3-d rendering, and the uncanny valley will be breached, or crossed, or whatever the proper idiom is. However, as of yet, the technology isn't quite there. So, while I suppose this art shows a high level of technical proficiency, the characters still kind of look dead. But, then again, the artist is doing about the best he can with the available technology, and I can't come down too hard on that. This, on the other hand, is pretty damning, and also not safe-for-work.

So, in summary. Shitty plot, stars a Marty Stu, and features soulless fanservice. On the plus side, it isn't very long, so it's got that going for it.


quadibloc said...

The story has become a bit more serious since the early pages you have reviewed...

I submit the sequence around

for your consideration.

Darayvus said...

The story does get better at around the summer of 2011 which is where quadibloc has left us, and where I've got to so far.

Main-character really isn't a Marty Stu. He's a shlemiel with sorcerous powers in "middle-Narnia". And his insecurities are coming to the forefront again.

I'm actually more reminded of Thomas Covenant the leper showing up at the Land. Except this time he can't rape anybody.