The Webcomic Watchman

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Review #41: Don't Fear the Reaper

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Oh come on! You knew that pun was coming!

Title: Reaper 7
Artist: Brian Brock
Genre: Sci-fi
Updates: Monday, Friday

"How much recreational drug use is it going to take for me to die?"

The Grim Reaper finished a hit of the nargila and passed the pipe back to me as he contemplated the question. "In your case?" He responded, "Probably never, considering you're but a fictional character like Spider Jerusalem or Hunter S. Thompson."

"Dude, Hunter Thompson was real." I took another hit from the nargila as the Reaper pondered this statement.

"Oh no my friend, Hunter Thompson is but a codename that was used at the time to designate one special journalist with a high tolerance for pain suffering for the subjects he covers and the recreational drug use to escape it." As I blew smoke rings at the ceiling, the Reaper continued his statement, "I believe the current incarnation of the Gonzo Journalist is currently that reporter who marched around in a gorilla suit doing interviews with the Kerry campaign in '04...what's his name again? Matt Taibbi, right?"

"You keep track of this stuff?" I asked, passing the pipe back to the Reaper.

"Believe me, plenty of people find they can't go on during these times of turmoil, like in this comic you've chosen to review: It used to be some fantasy-ish tale called Crimson Night, and it went through a few different incarnations before the artist settled upon the one you have chosen to review right now." The reaper took a long hit before he finally exhaled the biggest smoke ring I had ever seen, "Believe me buddy, sometimes death is just a pit stop on the road of life. Speaking of which, you did choose one of those religions with reincarnation, didn't you?"

"Nah, I was born into one of the more Western, monotheistic ones."

"Well," the Reaper drawled out that word before finishing with, "you're just shit out of luck then."

So the world's gone to shit, the Emperor dies on the very first page, a school has taken control over the unnamed Empire (you mean the educators actually have power outside the ivory tower of academia now? We are so fucked.) and is training psychically gifted people to hone their talents for some reason, and the world is in one of those "post-technology" stages of evolution. Pretty dark, huh? Welcome to the world of Reaper 7.

The hero of this story is a perpetually pissed-off guy named Issac, carrying a small scythe who may or may not be a member of a rebel group.

Brief rant on weaponry here: why would this guy be carrying a scythe? It just seems pretty damn impractical to be using unless he was a farmer in a previous life, and even then, wouldn't a pair of kama be easier to whip out than a huge blade that only works with a forward slicing motion? Even the old Polish war scythe had the blade extend out from the end to serve as a halberd instead of curving back in towards the user.

I know, I know, this might just fit under the so-called Rule of Cool, so I'll shut my mouth about it for the rest of this review. Back to my slightly-more clever voice.

Oh, but it gets better: Issac is forced into a shotgun marriage with a cliche "girl-floating-in-a-tube" from a rundown facility (named Seven, hence the second half of the title), thanks to exposition from a holographic projection of her now-dead father/creator. The hologram tells him that a device implanted in his neck will kill him if the two are separated for too long. Issac grudgingly accepts his new position, even though he doesn't seem to care enough to leave her for a drink. The reason why Issac bothered to show up at the facility in the first place if he truly doesn't give a shit about anything is unclear. It kinda feels like the character is trying too hard to emulate that anti-hero attitude and just ends up coming off as an asshole.

Also, there's a robot with a paper bag and glowing eyes instead of a head. Sorry, got distracted again, but he doesn't seem to really do much of anything.

So anyways, the odd couple pick up a scholar named Daevlon, from the aforementioned ruling Academy, who seems to have a sword and psychic powers. The only difference between him and Issac seems to be hairstyle and the ability to walk around in torn button-down shirt, otherwise they look pretty similar. His primary motivation seems to be stopping Issac from using Seven against the Empire, but if this was his real purpose then one wonders why he didn't just leave Issac to die after stabbing him through the back. There's also something about a rogue tomboy with a gun, but as of this post that character hasn't really been developed yet.

As far as the artwork goes, the backgrounds are pretty well drawn and give off a nice, rustic motif, though the fantasy-ish village following the rundown industrial factory does make me question how post-modern this regressed-tech setting is. The character models are drawn pretty small, and sometimes you have to squint to see their faces. It feels like the artist is trying to shove as many panels as he can in a predetermined 468x720 pixel frame, whether or not that was his intention. Also, the anatomy is occasionally a little twisted around in a few panels. Though it has improved from what little I remember of this comic's previous incarnation (Crimson Night), it seems there are still quite a few kinks lying around.

It feels like there's a comic with good potential wanting to jump out here, but the cringe-worthy dialogue coming from Issac and the okay drawing are currently leaving a bad taste in my mouth.


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