Darths  DroidsWorld of Webcomics is a series devoted to exploring the world of online comics and their target audiences, as well as their art styles, storylines, and the general enjoyment that they provide.


I’ve never had the opportunity to play a Star Wars tabletop RPG—I almost never tabletop anymore, sadly—and I’ve often wondered what it would be like, so I was very happy when someone showed me this particular comic.  Take all six films and act them out as tabletop game, with six individual campaigns, and then throw in the characteristics of some classic tabletop geek archetypes, mixed with photo stills from the films themselves, and you’ve got yourself a webcomic.  Photo stills aren’t anything new—Irregular Webcomic did it, my recent review of Troops of Doom showed that they do it—but the fact that the characters are themselves playing characters is really interesting to me.  Right off the bat, the comic pulled me in with the conversation between the PCs and the GM being hilarious to read; it took me back to my tabletop days, and that’s what really kept me going.  Darths & Droids updates Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at darthsanddroids.net.

MINOR SPOILERS BELOW

 

Zero Dark ThirtyI’m a huge Law & Order fan.  It’s quite sad, really.  If TNT is running one of those Law & Order marathons they often run on holidays and whatnot, I’m sucked into it for the rest of the day.  I think a lot of this is because Law & Order (and all of its TV spawn) is all about plot and absolutely never about character development.  The ingenious thing that series creator Dick Wolf did was litter the proceedings with scores of great New York stage actors.  If you think about it, the regular cast members on procedurals like Law & Order really don’t have much emotional stuff to play.  They exist as exposition ATMs, moving the story from plot point to plot point.  The guest stars almost always do the heavy emotional lifting.  That the Law & Order shows have been cast well allows the regular characters to have an inner life because the actors bring that, the scripts never do.


In many ways, Kathryn Bigelow’s new film Zero Dark Thirty is the ultimate episode of Law & Order.  It’s the mother of all procedurals.  It’s almost all plot for two and a half hours with almost zero character development.  And, it’s also pretty spectacular.

 

Pantalones TX *Please note that this advance review is based on a non-final copy of the graphic novel.


As a geek with a warped sense of humor, I have read and watched some very unusual things over the years (Excel, Saga, and FLCL come to mind), but this is one of the most unusual comics I have ever read.  I’m not entirely sure what the creator (Yehudi Mercado) was thinking when he made this graphic novel, but I will say this much: at least the ending makes sense (within the confines of the story itself, that is, which overall doesn’t).  I’m not sure if I’m likely to ever read something else with these particular settings and characters—or other stories from the creator that are much like this—but I’ll give him this much: he kept me entertained while I read it.  This graphic novel is due to be released in February, 2013, if the world doesn’t end before then.

SPOILERS BELOW

 

Mara 1I doubt you really need to be sold on Brian Wood.  With titles like DMZ, Northlanders, and The Massive in his body of work, Wood’s possibly one of the most competent comic scribes out there.  Mara is not like any of those things, but that’s probably a good thing: it’s nice to see someone at the top of their game branch out rather than play it safe.

 

Happy 1Nick Sax is a great detective turned hitman.  If popular crime fiction is any way to judge, that must happen to most detectives eventually.  Despite its name, Happy! is very much the opposite: a bleak, brutal, cynical tale of mobsters and mayhem, and for all that the setup is formulaic and it doesn't thrive.  I think maybe because the script is written from the "criminals curse every other word they say for no particular reason" school of dialogue.

 

Super Dinosaur 14I always have a good deal of fun with Super Dinosaur.  Kirkman's all-ages series about a kid and his genetically-altered T-rex best friend and their struggles against various villainous forces is good for both its lighthearted action adventure and, for me, its nostalgia factor.  As a child of the '80s and '90s, I grew up on cartoons that originated the tradition to which Super Dinosaur belongs – though the comic is a little less restrained by censors and stuff.

SPOILERS BELOW (for the first few issues)

 

Ghost 0The eponymous character in Ghost has been around for a bit – nearly twenty years – and this issue marks the beginning of a new monthly series featuring the character.  This zero issue collects a three-part story originally serialized in Dark Horse Presents #13-15 earlier in the year.

 

Dark Horse Presents 16I don’t understand why we don’t have more anthology comics out there.  Comics grew up on anthologies.  Some of the most prominent characters in comics appeared first in anthologies.  I do like regular ongoings, too, don’t get me wrong, but a good anthology allows creators to try small, wild stuff and allows readers to try out a bunch of creators.


Dark Horse Presents #16 is a sterling example of what an anthology comic ought to be.

 

Robots in Disguise annualIt’s another double-sized, double-priced Transformers adventure, following on the heels of the annual of Robots in Disguise’s sister series, More than Meets the Eye, which hit a few weeks back.  If you are going to read both annuals, More than Meets the Eye’s technically comes first, but it is not required reading if you are on the fence or just not following that series.  Likewise, readers of More than Meets the Eye will find some background in this annual relevant to recent plotlines in that series.

 

Robots in Disguise 10The main storyline of Robots in Disguise – the reconstruction of Cybertron in the wake of the Great War – gets a vacation for a one-and-done story that continues the roaming saga of Optimus Prime and a handful of others.  In deep space, Prime pursues the truth behind a deadly plan hatched by the Decepticons’ greatest scientists, Shockwave and Jhiaxus.

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