We’re really living in a golden age of webcomics. I’m old enough to remember their early days. They were mostly short-format comedy pieces or over-wrought teenage dramas. Now, webcomics can have sweeping narratives and art to rival any major publisher, and they’re getting trade paperback editions and anime adaptations! Give it a few years, and we’ll be seeing webcomic films! Ophiuchus is one of these webcomics that now sees itself reaching new audiences in the form of a trade paperback.
Ophiuchus, originally published independently but now released through Image Comics, follows the adventures of a trio of robots – Pyx, Sagitta, and the titular Ophiuchus – as they try to undo the evils of a malignant virus called Serpentis that has wiped out all other robotic life. The trio explores the ruins of their world while Serpentis attempts to manipulate them into turning on each other.
The world of Ophiuchus is alien. Hints at distant lore and backstory dot the landscape of every panel. The main story, by comparison, is a traditional adventure epic that follows the hero’s journey to a T. The whole series gives off the same energy as Star Wars or The Princess Bride with its fantasy setting and classic heroes.
If the story pulls inspiration from classical structure, the art is clearly pulling inspiration from modern sources. I’m heavily reminded of Steven Universe and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power when looking at the pastel color palette and angular cast. It’s a style that has been used so frequently lately that it borders on being overdone, but Ophiuchus marries the color scheme to a building narrative. (In the Extra section of the trade paperback, they even discuss the subtle changes in color scheme used throughout each act.)
Then, there are the panel layouts that are just inspired. Serpentis’ all-encompassing nature is made all the more apparent in several pages where Serpentis IS the space between panels. It’s magnificent.
Finding things to criticize about this piece is difficult. Anything I have to say is very nit-picky. I appreciated the poetic and minimalist dialogue, but during the introduction and climax, I could have done with a little more interaction between the characters. The main cast had a tendency of making decisions in one or two lines of dialogue that probably warranted a little more back and forth. I also would have liked if Ophiuchus and Sagitta could have had a little more screen time together to cement their shared storyline.
Simply put, I love Ophiuchus. The world and the lore are fascinating while the main plot is so wonderfully self-contained. I want an Ophiuchus series, an Ophiuchus movie, and Ophiuchus merchandise. I cannot recommend this trade paperback enough. It’s appropriate for almost any age and will have something for just about anyone. As it stands now, this is, by far, my favorite collected volume of 2019.
Creative Team: Ali Leriger De La Plante (Writer/Artist), Natasha Tara Petrović (Artist/Writer)
Publisher: Image Comics
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