The Webcomic Watchman

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Review #36: Xanatos Roulette

So that's what the ball pit is for...
This is funny. Laugh at it. Now.

Title: Masters of the Art
Artist Creators: Justin Pixler and Patrick Johnson
Genre: Comedy

"To understand the complexity of this art, you must find the simple answer."

"But what is the question?" I asked

"You must find the differences in that which makes us alike."

I couldn't help but cock my eyebrow in a manner not unlike Saint Stephen Colbert in response to that non-answer.

"Dr. Haus! You have patience to diagonse!" I thought it was another non-sensical koan, until I realized it was really the voice of my receptionist boy. I mentally noted that he said "patients," not "patience."

"Where the hell have you been, doc?" The receptionist boy gasped. Apparently, he had run all the way up this mystical mountain to find me, "You know we have 20-30 people waiting to see you back down in our new office!"

"You must face your fears, in order to defeat them." The wise guy continued, "Also, the cowardly squirrel can defeat the mightiest fireman, provided he has laser vision."


"Also, Santa Claus is a hobo. That will be 150..."

"How much?"

"150, in Israeli Shekels and box tops, for my book of wise sayings."

I didn't want to piss off the old man, but I also didn't want to pay for a book of random new-age crap that lasted over 350 pages. So I came up with a cunning plan to trick him, consisting solely of throwing a placebo behind him and shouting, "Hey, look over there!" The animalistic growling from behind me as I ran told me that I should've thought of a better distraction.

Then I remembered another piece of advice from my youth: "When running away from a dangerous wise guy who wants you to buy his book, you don't have to be faster than him, you only need to be faster than your friend." Too bad my receptionist boy didn't learn this lesson fast enough.

Bah, I'm slipping on my narratives, but that still made a little more sense than this comic I'm now reviewing for you all.

Masters of the Art is a comic. It has characters. They do stuff.

Oh sure, the characters have names, and they have a few interesting story arcs with Santa Claus the hobo, a (medi-)evil twin, and some guy named Chef Mysterious. In fact, click here, scroll down, and look at the names of various characters. You can probably guess the various story arcs by looking at the names of the supporting cast members.

And as for the main cast members who get tossed into this insanity? About their only distinguishing feature is their hair color and the occasional pair of breasts where the artist feels like introducing a female cast member into the scene. I usually try to make some kind of effort to learn about the characters, but my eyes kinda glazed over after the 100th strip.

Kim (the red-haired girl) is a slight nymphomaniac, Reed has Super Saiyan hair, Jackson reminds me of that guy from that Full Metal Panic manga I read years ago, and there's probably more quirks I could point out among the regular cast...but really, who gives a damn? The main characters are pretty much interchangeable. The secondary cast is only marginally better, but the characters do a small turn from bland to "pick two character traits out of a hat and laugh at the result!" Witness the superhero chef character, marvel at the hippenpenguin, chuckle at the court case featuring an amazon lawyer!

Anything else? Oh yes, the artwork. It starts out as generic anime-style, but over the course of the comic it becomes a little more Western-influenced. It does a decent job, nothing too flashy and nothing that makes me want to pour bleach my eyes. Aside from the occasional emotive action scene, the art prefers to stay in its little corner, sipping a martini and occasionally stumbling out on the dance floor to perform a drunken rendition of the macarena when it feels like being more adventurous.

Go ahead and read this if you must. It doesn't cost you much and you'll probably find something to chuckle at. But do not assume that you will find much substance (comedic or storywise) within this comic...unless this is one hell of a mystical koan and the characters are soon going to turn from simple gag characters into angst-ridden wizards tasked with saving the world.

But enough about Dominic Deegan.


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