Monthly Archives: May, 2007

Zap!

Reviewing Indavo earlier this week reminded me of another strip I’ve been wanting to talk about – Zap!

I was, in fact, surprised to realize I hadn’t already done so, as it had been one of the very first strips I had wanted to discuss – but somehow it slipped through the cracks, and after over a year at this, I never found the time to discuss it.

So let’s fix that, shall we?

With the majority of webcomics out there, one can clearly see the evolution of art and writing over the course of the strip, thanks to the wonders of easy archiving. It isn’t a surprise – the task of working on the strip alone will usually force one to reach new levels, and that doesn’t at all account for development outside of the strip itself – especially as college students, from what I’ve seen, make up a significant portion of webcomic producers.

Zap! certainly follows this trend, though it takes it to a different degree – it evolves early, and the art goes from effective to downright breathtaking. I mention this because I clearly recall how I found the comic, and it was entirely via the art. With most strips, I find my way via word of mouth or hype from a trusted source – in this case, I simply saw an advertisement with a picture of the cast, and bam! I was sold.

Zap may be one of the few comics where, as much as I enjoy the story, it’s the art that keeps me coming back day after day.

Which is not to say the story is bad – far from it! It has some weaknesses – it is often a bit too predictable and a bit too cliche – but that is part of what makes it great. It feels like a classic science fiction tale, and manages to cover all sorts of ground, from politics to mysteries to space battles. It takes advantage of being a scifi strip to actually bring all sorts of clever characters into the picture, and does a good job of establishing interest in not just the good guys, but the villains, too.

Right now is a great time to join in. For one, Volume One of the strip is now available for pre-order, complete with a contest for all sorts of special goodies. Even more importantly, though, the strip is really entering into the big stakes. Our hero, the almost-heroic Zap Vexler, is coming closer and closer to finally uncovering the secret of his past. The woman he loves, Reona, is coming face to face with darkness out of her own past. We’ve got intense action sequences hand in hand with heavy drama, with each strip leaving the audience wanting more. Cliffhangers might be cruel – but they are also a sign that something is going on that’s good enough to keep a reader interested and attached.

Indavo and Zap are very similar webcomics, but with a few key differences. In Indavo, so much of the story is about the heroes exploring the universe and uncovering evil schemes. It is all about exploration and discovery of the world around them, and proving themselves against it. With Zap, it is a much more personal journey, and the exploration and discovery is very often internal. The heroes themselves are still in transition, and still struggling to become who they need to be to save the day.

Both make for great stories, and seeing the differences between the two makes me appreciate each one all the more.

Sibling Rivalry

This week in Dominic Deegan has seen the full reappearance of Dominic’s brother Jacob – necromancer, villain, and all around spooky guy.

Now, in this case, Dominic has called him in as something of an ally, in order to investigate a scene of massive death and devestation. The interest at hand is the pursuit of knowledge, and he is able to lure Jacob into helping him – at least for now. This means we get to see the two of them working together, and this is fantastic

I like the characters in Dominic Deegan, and Mookie has moved past a lot of the hurdles that had been bothering me a few years ago – but the interaction currently going on between Dominic and Jacob is hands down some of the best he’s ever written. See, one of the issues that had been cropping up was that Dominic began to overshadow pretty much every other character – with his insight, he was the one who had to solve every problem and right every wrong.

Which, to be fair, is the premise of the comic, but still – it meant no one else could stand with him on equal footing. It meant there had to be an entire story arc devoted to the idea of other characters solving problems specifically without him.

Jacob can stand on equal footing with Dominic. He isn’t an ally, he is a foe, as skilled in his own field as Dominic is in divination. He has always been capable of keeping Dominic off-balance, which is a feat almost no one can manage.

He is, after all, Dominic’s older brother.

This is what the last few pages have done a fantastic job of showing. We manage to both have the simmering hostility of, essentially, mortal enemies momentarily entering into a truce… while at the same time we can still see the bickering unique to siblings, and see how well they each know how to push each other’s buttons.

Now that’s how you write a damn good comic.