The Webcomic Watchman

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Review #28: The Spiritual Journey of Dr. Haus

I can has cheezburger?*

Title: Crowfeathers
Artist: Amy Watson ("Sagebrush")
Genre: Western/Supernatural
Updates: Sat, Tue
*(for those not acquainted with the "LOLcats" meme, click here)

"Receptionist boy!" I shouted, stumbling into my office and making various folks in the waiting room jump up, "I have returned from my trip, and I have seen many awesome sights! I have looked into the face of the angels, I have seen giant one-eyed cat pouncing on a demonic crow! I saw a Native American shaman become possessed by a giant Sessomaru spirit! And I have seen..."

I suddenly stopped in the middle of describing my spirit quest. The receptionist boy was asking me why I stopped, until I held up a hand in his general direction. That's when I saw that crow, that creepy fucking crow from before.

"Doctor Haus," the crow spoke in English, "Your quest has not ended."

"Why not, dammit?" I yelled back at the crow, "Why must I be the one to sift through these webcomics?"

"It was not me that chose to be a Webcomic Watchman, Doctor Haus."

"You say that as if I have a choice, oh great and wise talking crow."

I could almost swear the crow laughed when I said that sentence. I took a moment to glance at the waiting room and watch the other folks waiting for their work to be reviewed. They all seemed to be frozen in place, jumping up from their seats upon my arrival. Time just seemed to stop as I focused on that laughing crow.

"There is always a choice, Doctor Haus. You could very easily walk away from all this."

"No, I've come too far to stop now," I growled, "I'm gonna finish this fucking review."

"Are you sure you are prepared for this responsibility, oh self-appointed Watcher of Webcomicry who claims to be a doctor?"

"Damn right I am, you talking crow! Now gimme that sweet, sweet spiritual release!" I shouted.

Next thing I knew, the crow was gone, and I was waking up inside a model tepee in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Crowfeathers, the story of a young kid named Chase Corbeau living in the old west. A half-French, half-Indian (think Sitting Bull, not Gandhi) kid whose real father was actually some ancient sky god, thus giving Chase the ability to turn into a giant crow.

Chase is not having much luck in life: A trio of witches ("the Brujas," according to the cast page) turned him into a crow from the start of the comic. Through a very extended flashback, he reveals how his mom and grandpa were killed in a fire by a crooked ex-sheriff, though the current sheriff Jimmy Tate and his sister take Chase in. After that, he gets attacked by a one-eyed cat demon with a hard-on for Chase, discovers that the town doctor is actually a snake-person, and then later in the story finds himself being a pawn in some supernatural civil war.

That's the best I can summarize the plot without giving too much away, but then again, this comic is currently on its 25th chapter.

It starts out interestingly enough with a bit of good ol' schoolyard drama and a crow who has somehow survived in what appears to be modern-day America that contains the essence of Chase Corbeau. After chapter 5, the story has essentially become one whole flashback with several interesting twists and turns.

However, I don't get when this story turned from a supernatural Deadwood into a Western Yu-Yu-Hakusho. Maybe it was the borderline snuff in chapter 8 (no, I'm not linking it), or the whole spirit battle scene over in chapter 17. Or maybe it's just the fact that I've tried to read over the whole comic within a few days. In either case, it seems there's still little about how this connects to the events at the start of the story: Why did Chase end up getting sealed by witches if he's fighting all these evil spirits? Couldn't these witches do something about those evil ghosts too? And how did he survive to what appears to be the modern day?

Let's move on. The artwork looks decent enough for black and white pencil and pens, but the characters still have that generic manga style look to them. This guy, though nicely detailed, looks less like an evil undead ghost and more like that old man who yells at those darned kids to get off his lawn. I'd hope a western-based comic would at least have some more western art influences to go along with it, but hey, to each his/her own.

There's a lot more I could cover about the story, like how Jimmy Tate's dead wife and son are constantly used as a cudgel to make you feel sympathetic to an otherwise flat side character, or the lack of elaboration on the relationships between the various spirits that inhabit this comic. But then this review would destroy 56k modems all over the world.

Overall, the doctor will give this comic a light recommendation, but only if you're willing to dig through all the strips to find the relevant story info.

"...and that's why I can't ever go to a museum again," I told the recptionist boy.

"Doctor Haus, if you didn't want to go to the museum, you could've just said 'no.' I didn't need that whole drawn-out story." The receptionist boy sighed and put the IMAX tickets back in his jacket, "I guess I'll just have to go by myself."

As the receptionist boy left the office, I looked outside the window in the waiting room. And then I saw that crow again. That creepy fucking crow.

"Looks like its back to watching webcomics for me," I sighed, throwing up my hands and walking back into my office. I had reviews to finish.


  • I've also read the entire thing, and I do belive this is more of an "epic" type story not for the short of attention span. not all the dots are there so we cant connect them just yet, wich is the stuff I kinda like, its not for the 4 panel crowd. It seems to suit people better if you like the huge story arcs of bleach, battle star galactica (2004) and the such. It does cover adult content such as muder rape, homosexuality...etc so its not for kids, or people who are easily offended. of course in real life such things did happen in that era(muder rape, homosexuality) so its not out of context and is used to move the story rather for its own sake. I guess this anime is like sushi, some people like it, some people dont. this comic is like Unagi sushi. most people that like sushi wil probaly like it, if you dont like sushi in the first place its probably not your genre any way. I'd tried to compare it to other wester mystical stories, but the are hard to find.

    By Anonymous caatabatic, at 4:33 PM  

  • I will admit that westerns with a dash of supernatural stuff are a bit hard to find. The only two I've ever found just disappeared.

    What bugs me is not the fact that the story is long (and comparing it to the recent BSG? That's quite a longshot there.), but the fact that you acknowledge the rape/murder/borderline yaoi being used to move the story forward. I'm not denying that shit happened in the Wild West. Hell, I'm pretty sure those things happened as far back as the dawn of man. That doesn't mean they should be used as plot devices in a setting that has plenty of real history to dig through.

    And by the way, I actually like unagi sushi, when I feel like shelling out for it. This story is okay, but it ain't exactly that good.

    If you want western with a little more sci-fi flavoring, check out Cowboys & Aliens, co-written by the always awesome Fred Van Lente.

    By Blogger Dr. Haus, at 4:56 PM  

  • Dear Dr. Haus,

    I know you posted this many months (moons? It would fit more with the comic "basis", I guess) ago, but I just finished reading this web comic, and I must say that I wholeheartedly agree with you on your entire review and then some.

    Being a history major, I rather enjoyed this web comic at first. It had a lot of things I was interested in: history, the Wild Wild West, and even some Indian lore tossed in! I believed I was in web comic heaven. What more could a history major ask for?

    That is until tragedy strikes. The entire basis of the three boys who are sitting here, listening to a crow's back story is... gone? Where did my favorite part of the story go? Oh, yes, that's right. We're still stuck in flashback mode. Well, damn. Maybe soon Sagebrush will make an amazing return to our modern America! But, alas, to no avail did we see the three cute little buggers in the beginning again.

    There is much more I found wrong with this comic, but I feel that I have bored you already, and I must be on my way.

    I hope you enjoy your adventures in more web comics.

    Your now frequent reader,


    By Anonymous Murrie, at 9:55 PM  

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