The Webcomic Watchman

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Review #3: The Hero's Handbook

Title: The Hero's Handbook
Artist: "HHB Bookmaster" (real name unknown)
Collective: Comic Genesis
Genre: Fantasy/Comedy
Format: Ongoing serial
Updates: Weekly, on Fridays for the most part

The genre of fantasy webcomicry is so cluttered that it's hard to break out of the mold of the usual stuff. Herein, "HHB" tries to break out of that mold by adding a comedic twist, kinda like Adventurers or RPG World. So far, the comic has about #55 strips down (at the time of this writing), a fifth of which are filler, so it's technically still got room to grow. Nevertheless, there are definitely some problems apparent in this comic in the early stages.

1) Too many Deus Ex Machinas. I know this comic is a parody and not a straightforward fantasy comic, so some pointless humor and plot devices are acceptable. However, clustering them all together within a short span of comic pages is just lazy in terms of storytelling. In a span of 13 strips, Lute breaks out of jail (with some help), conviniently finds the "Hero's Handbook," and spots nearby weaponry to fight the evil bandits.

Plot devices, especially in humorous comics, are like Old Bay seasoning: sprinkle a little on your seafood dish, it'll enhance the flavor. Sprinkle a little too much, and it makes the entree hard to eat.

2) Is there even a fourth wall here? Sometimes, it looks like the comic is a movie where the actors screw up their lines. Other times, the actors in this story wonder how the convinient plot devices appear. Is this supposed to be a parody of a fantasy story, or a parody of the acting of a fantasy movie, what with the self-insertion by the artist to make snide remarks at the Darth Vader-wannabe for falling asleep during his cue? Pick one side of the fourth wall and stay on it for the story-related strips.

3) Another carbon-copy fantasy hero? C'mon, we've seen enough white, blond-haired kids in fantasy comics to fill a convention center.

Though I suppose this can be turned into a plus if the beginning of the story is any indication: that the hero hasn't been torn from his parents due to war, disease, or poverty, and his family is actually quite well-off, unlike most heroes. Finally, someone found this angle of fantasy stories and made fun of it.

Art: 3/5 (A little blocky at times, but otherwise a nice, cartoony atmosphere.)
Story: 2/5 (Started off well, but too many convinient plot devices lately)
Humor: 3/5 (Good, but not great. Though the conspiracy that all heroes are born thanks to instructions from a book could be a good story.)
Action: 2.5/5 (Some fighting, but nothing that really stands out except for a unicorn bursting through a wall.)
Characters: 2/5 (Mostly two-dimensional, generic looking hero, evil guy who somehow forgets his accent...needs work.)
Overall (not an average): 4/10
Evil Stuff: Cartoonish violence
Reccomendation: Come back in a couple of months, but for now, there are better comics out there.


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