Webcomics are my vice and I focus on strips delving into Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Speculative Fiction, Magical Realism and Cyberpunk.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Letting off some steam: Widdershins

Prolapse is presumably involved here...somehow

Steampunk is a fairly nebulous genre at the moment; you'd be forgiven if you thought it was solely based on surface aesthetics of cosplayers inserting clocks & bolts into florid Victoriania but originally it was a counterpoint to cyberpunk vivid anger. The difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling was a key text looking at technology-led power structures and how to devolve them from the inside. It wasn't the sad sexualized fetish we see today.

Kate Ashwin's Widdershins is a steampunk webcomic but it certainly doesn't delve into the societal anomalys caused by technological change; it exchanges it for a series of vaguely connected picaresques and fanciful misadventures from a fairly hefty wellspring of ideas. I like the feeling of confidence here with an array of coy little in-jokes and remarks. The linework is likewise charmingly sinuous, colouful enough to denote the magical undercurrents that emerge from the cobblestones. It's cartoony in just the right way like a warmth spreading over your irises.

Nothing's forced here; that's the rub. There's no specious social justice anachronisms inserted here, our droll narky hero, Harriet Barber, isn't forced into petty gendered binaries, there are no attempts to redress current problems. It looks like fluff at first but by the third chapter there's an emerging mythology present. It's not yet an essential webcomic in the league of Unsounded as some storylines can be somewhat erratic and fey, but the underlying sense of wonderment and vervedriving it makes it an enjoyable read.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The sound of kickass: Unsounded

Genre typically works because of its constrictions, what I like about Unsounded is its ability to take the typical fantasy tropes of magic, empire and violence and mash them about. This isn't a Dragonlance pissant high fantasy nor a Gene Wolfe moralistic mess of broken dreams. This is a deep work, not a 'monster of the week' type strip. You will need to ingest a fair bit of information in order to read this strip on update.

Now, if you were particularly supercilious  You could call it steam-punk but this comic doesn't have that genre's artificial ostentation and glib self-awareness. It's a fluent and subtle work that deserves your attention; there's a hybrid vigor set in place here that isn't at all self-conscious. After a while the genre doesn't matter and you're dragged into reading this by the intrigue and the dense narrative. Trying to work out what's happening as different storyline streams interconnect is the best part of this strip, the complexity is implied not avoided.

The artwork is simultaneously lush and precise, one of an increasing band of webcomics created by professionals veering into webcomic territory, the webcomic being an entrance into dead wood publishing with previous failed attempts by webcomicers to monetize easily swept away by the critical mass of kickstarter.

The first few chapters seem like the author establishing themselves, trying to get a grip on characters, they're simplistic at first but gradually reveal layers of nuance, the easy choice you'd think a web-cartoonist would choose for a serial strip instead gets dragged into a an amoral world.

The main character, troublemaker Sette, isn't Pepper from Lackadiasy, who is against my will,  my favourite character in webcomics this year, she is however a vivacious bundle of scurvy gibbering chaos. Her chaperone Duane is a cipher, if their characters seems throwaway in the first 30 pages they slowly establish an emotional attachment out of sheer adversity,

If China Mieville is a source of love/hate reaction in my life then this strip is better for me, a way to show how to intelligently establish steampunk without the ostensible proto-socialist attitude. The initial nervousness of the creator melts away as the scope of this vast world becomes more apparent, more valid a choice. It's not high fantasy dreck, more an engaging political excursion, a fun romp through genre fiction as viable narrative device.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Denial circuits: Paranatural

Paranatural is a strip that manages to be simultaneously wry and innocent, it's a evanescent heady playfulness that bites the reader hard. I like the way the strip overall captures the feeling of being on the cusp of adolescence. The strip details the travails of Max, a newcomer to a middle-sized town called Mayview and his discovery of supernatural elements that the majority of people cannot see.

This incursion of the unreal adds to a tumultuous introduction to middle school life with its cliques, bullies and oddball teachers. He's connected to the this new world of spectres via the middle school's paranatural activity club in the first chapter and the ground rules are set with his psionic powers more a curse than a blessing.

I guess my purview covers this strip due to its supernatural emphasis but regardless this webcomic is a joy to read. I'd class this more as a magical realist webcomic than a horror emphasis , the humour is ever-present and deflates the macabre nasties on display. Because of this ability to deflate things there's an underlying sense of nostalgia when I read this. I certainly felt like the world was boundless when I was 12. Fairy tales and the supernatural allow an escape from the constrictions but in this case the supernatural is a chaotic intrusion into the life of the smart alec protagonist.

'Fluid' is a particularly overused word of mine but I think I'd prefer to say this strip uses strong grandstanding linework; it's certainly in your face. There's the barest of anime influences when facial expressions morph into extreme emphasis but I'd put it down to an overall playfulness. The colourful palette veers towards an understated pastel, it's certainly not gaudy. The design of the spirits in particular are where the artwork shines, they ooze and gloom out onto the page, sometimes with comedic malice.

The adept light touch used here means this strip evades any particular constrictions or expectations set by genre fiction. There are still rules regarding the supernatural existing as an undercurrent beneath the chaos but once they're established the storyline is ready to head into some self-aware and self-contained nuggets of reckless abandonment. The updates are always slow but what you get is a something invested in the goofy magical state at the cusp of self-awareness and freedom.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Take the wheel and Drive

Looks can be deceiving, it's an obvious cliche but in the case of Drive,  I initially thought this was a goofy cartoony space comedy from the creator of Sheldon.  I gradually realised this was a rich and fertile world. What could look like a motley collection of goofy aliens becomes a decent storyline with a clear internal logic. Human history has been transformed by the application of an alien technology and the chaos surrounding the main character is an incursion into this narrative.

The pilot finds himself beset by various foolish games and various fuckeries and it's a rollicking ADHD sort of strip with a low key non-edgy humour mixed in with some realpolitik. There are  intersections between the past and the present storylines scattered throughout the strip, not enough to take your from the main storyline but enough to gradually immerse the reader in a tragic story behind the comedy set in place. The idea of an English / Spanish language mixture for the future is certainly different, the continual implementation of fact sheets from the 'enciclopedia Xenobiologia'  within the comic gives the reader a good background briefing of a 'space opera' styled world.

At first I thought the title of the strip was reductive but as I continued to read the strip I saw that the 'drive', or the ship's engine becomes an underlying emphasis of human civilisation and its subsequent war with the 'makers'. The way this underlying tradegy is portayed can be a middle ground, the artwork is cartoony but bold, the creator of Sheldon clearly has the experience to pull this off and the imaginative prowess to get stuck into creating a large universe with a plethora of diverse lifeforms. It doesn't look serious but there's a pitch here for an underlying mythos that is worth the time of any science fiction fan. Robert Heinlein it ain't but it's clearly a webcomic with some teeth.

I guess if you're looking for analogies then the 'zaniness' of 'the Hitch-hiker's guide to the galaxy' might be a good reference point. Sometimes the humour doesn't quite hit it, a little too 'zany' for my tastes and the visuals are a little too fluidl and cartoony to absorb sometimes, for all that's it's a strip making an attempt to create an intelligent space opera. The appeal of this strip is its resolute attempt to tell a story and while the safe 'dad' jokes wear thin occasionally  I kept with this strip primarily because of the underlying vision behnd it.  

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Catching up on nachitos : The Walky series

I'm just getting into the Walky mythos, reading the archives from Roomies, It's Walky to Joyce & Walky, I'd been infected with  David Willis's oeuvre initially by Shortpacked and then the mythos remix comic, Dumbing of age. I knew it was a keystone classic webcomic series but the size of the archives scared me off, as well as the fact it spanned 3 comics. I'm glad I did, there's an emotional integrity here that's been rarely matched in my 10 years of reading webcomics. It crept up on me, but even the initial emotional deepening with the Ruth scenario was a very swift right-turn into adulthood and its discontents.  These series veer very sharply between goofy antics and human consequences. I should have done this way sooner.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Do over?: Sore thumbs

Just wondering if this is going to lead to the zinger that shows us what the Sore Thumbs reset is really about, that is, was it just a way to get out of an increasingly garish storyline or just a new spin on Sore Thumbs characters in a bizarro universe? There's certainly not much emphasis on video games anymore, it's transformed into a magical realist morality tale on the foibles of western society with Fairbanks as the screaming cheerleader in a clown suit.

You couldn't really call this a gamer comic, if it ever really was one before straying into bug-out mind jack territory. Now it's a cheerful  antic sci-fi strip and this discovery of 'evil Jimmy' looks like it might explain how the reset of the Sore Thumbs universe works, I'm still not sure as to whether it's a glib & knowing deus ex machina deal or just boredom on the part of Crosby. Just want to see if I can get some resolution here.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Nine time's the charm: The Fox sister

I'm more used to imagining the nine-tailed fox manifestation as typically Japanese but it has roots across most of East Asia, it's a trickster form, imagine Renard the fox mixed in with slavering bloodlust. If my most recent experience with Korean themes resulted in me bugging out then this strip, The Fox sister, is hopefully a decent antidote to that. Having been scared into whimpering submission by Japanese films such as the grudge and the ring series this was welcome respite

Already the pacing is measured between humour and horror, the horrific prologue doesn't make any sense as yet,. in the main storyline we're injected into a typical Korean city, we don't know much about anything as yet and I'm guessing this is going to veer into an initially uncomfortable 'odd couple' set up with our female protagonist and the tall blonde doofus westerner with the dog as the loyal companion / goofball. All we've really got for now is the artwork, the story will make itself known as it gets along, this is more of an introduction to a webcomic that's getting going more than an established strip with an established character.

That said, the artwork here is lustrous and sheeny, just the right side of cartoony without devolving into too much cuteness, this scene with the character's face in reflection in the sword is masterful and this willingness to devote a whole page to set the mood is admirable, it shows is a mature handle on narrative pacing, presumably aiming at a long haul of a story. Maybe best to check up on it in a few months though when it's more established.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Something in the air tonight:Sfeer theory

If this is a steampunk or fantasy webcomic then it's not easy to place, I don't think I've seen 'Regency-punk' before especially not in an alternate world setting, an alternate nineteenth century magical monarchy perhaps, think along the lines of the meek and you're halfway there. Sfeer theory is a big picture type of webcomic within the context of a wandering magical dilettante called Luca Valentino as a lowly tech assistant at the Uitspan institution. It is certainly not an easy project to have begun.

The linework and colouring are miles ahead of most webcomics, the dappled use of shadows here is unexpected and overall the artwork is cleancut and sharp, sometimes painfully lucid, on a computer's screen it looks crisp in a way that a physical page would easily soften and dull, The style seems to be using an anime influence without the restrictions of its cloying touches, an anime inflection then and consistently good with perspective handled adeptly; this is a well-established style and suits the confidence of the story being told in this strip.

Likewise, the writer Muun's narration here is world-weary, literate and quite assured, I've found the creation of a civilised world takes more chutzpah than the staples of a barbarian adventure, a lazy equivalent would perhaps be Full Metal Alchemist with the application of magic being the centrepiece of the strip.

 The use of 'Sfeer' is an underlying emphasis of the mechanics of this world and the reader is slowly getting a handle on it. The vocabulary guide is helpful as the magical terminology is part of a consistent system. Again, like most good webcomics this is more story based than 'slice of life' and looks like it'll be an inevitable 'slow-burn'. So far there's only been an introductory chapter but I'm already hooked.

Now, I'm aware I use the words 'slow burn' as a shorthand for a long term investment of your time, I'm aware that some of my reviewed webcomics such as Family man is quite heavy going but these types of labour-intensive long-term investment strips are what keep me going. As much as I like video games,  gamer strips are too anecdotal and ephemeral to last as a webcomic genre to be viewed in the future, they'll just be sad dated relics like juggalos and class distinctions.If my first webcomic crushes like Niego & Butternutsquash have let me down then I'm hoping to read this webcomic for a long time in the future.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

I don't like people : Corporate skull

Jamie Smart was always the hyperactive clown in the coyly dismal array of Slave Labor Graphic's stable. His inclusion into the niche comic publisher that emphasised a gloomy self-consciously Gothic aesthetic seemed at first to be a misnomer but on closer inspection his gibbering violent fables add up into something more than a light-weight goof-off. If  Jnonen Vasquez is the sardonic luminary of SLG's roster then Smart's violent and scatter-shot approach in Bear was the antic trickery of the court jester.

Nothing is serious or sacred for Smart and the basis of Corporate Skull stems from extremity. If Bear was a disconnected series of snippets of ludicrous violence then this is an anti-corporate obvious entry point for gen-Y that manages to capture the quiet wretched lower-middle-class desperation of the cubicle-slave.
The eponymous main character, Corporate Skull,  is reborn after his mishap and subsequently finds freedom in ignoring all of life's strictures and bringing the motherfucking ruckus. This issues is it's not altogether certain how such a rebellious 'bad-ass' is going to progress into a well-rounded story. As such, there's little internal logic to the transformation to the main character, a knowing 4th wall breakage and if this is going to be implemented as a long-term storyline that might be a problem. The need to guide a story about a 'too cool for school' skull-headed rebel means he'd need to create a long-term schemata for the strip.

That said, I'm always a sucker for a pretty face and visually this strip oozes cool and chutzpah in its frantic disassembling of our addled western lifestyle. The cutified scale of this strip perversely sets it up as a modern-day morality tale by intimating that the world of work is a childish pursuit with most people as status-obsessed imbeciles who obsess about arrant fuckwit shiny nonsense until we devolve into a slurry of greedy abject cuntitude.

So...uh...my obscene gibbering aside, this is a slick and visually gorgeous attempt to mindjack the reader with a political slant and a restless roving eye for dumb-fuckery. Anti-establishment poses are usually glib knowing acts of self-awareness and this is no exception. For all its obvious constrictions this longer format looks like an attempt to answer the questions about human nature Bear occasionally posed in between the congealed blood and inhuman laughter.

Any misgivings aside this is still something different, the initial riff on suicide isn't anything most slice of life or gamer webcomic creators would ever touch and Smart's background in indie 'dark' comics means he can easily manoeuvre around in a wry and bleak moral underpinning to his humour. His background in print tree comics has put him miles ahead of the pack and even if this strip isn't established as a webcomic presence it deserves to be on the ideas present here.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Fey but not coy: Fey winds

The amount of anime influenced fantasy series has certainly hit a critical mass in the webcomic realm. Now, at first glance what differentiates Fey Winds from other decent fantasy webcomics like Velharthis or Shades of veil is the use of colour, it contains a sort of gleaming intensity  alongside a a lightness of touch with cute or 'chibified' versions of characters from frame to frame, a very fluid and lush type of line work meshed in with gorgeous colours. It's a style that encourages goofy antics and dastardly deeds, there's a fourth wall breaking self-awareness here that is quite refreshing. There's also a decent map section (needed in every fantasy webcomic) as well as providing a proficient FAQ and world background.

To be reductive these are the adventures of a maladroit  and mismatched gang who are chasing a magical macguffin whilst an ancient evil emerges from the shadows, a standard theme but handled deftly if a not little irreverently. There's a..uh...human fox here but certainly no questionable furry nonsense present, a bloodthirsty knight, a slavering pervoid bard princeling and a gracious and sensible elf round out a team of adventurers in their search for salvation for their fractured world.

While it's not really questioning the boundaries of the 'adventure' trope this strip's  self-awareness certainly helps the reader adjust. In the 'about' section it's described as a 'silly fantasy webcomic' and this high energy approach means the main characters act like 21st century twenty-somethings and this underlying wry attitude to clichĂ© is what distinguishes this into a strip that's worth your time, the valentine cards for each character are especially good .

So yeah, sometimes the self-aware goofiness is ratcheted up a bit too much into some knowing pop culture territory but overall this is a fluid and easily digestible fantasy webcomic that doesn't drag the reader down into a dreary neckbeard cheeto-gobbling dungeons and dragons spiel. Its overall strength is some kick-ass kinetic action sequences and it works as a concise introduction into fantasy webcomics that allows the reader to ease into the standard fantasy tropes with a hyperactive whirl.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Caught in a web of your own design: String theory

At first glance this is not a genre strip; the main point is I'd assumed it was set in our universe or timeline but slowly but surely the other references come creeping in and the emotional range widens out into a slow burning rage. I'd never been so fortuitously side-swiped by a strip this much, what I thought was a cringe-worthy workplace goof ball drama was merely a prologue to a much richer story.

This is a grimy and bleak webcomic, I didn't know seething hatred could be a metier but  Beckey Grundy is an adept at creating a protagonist as a vector for bad luck mojo, our anti-hero scientist Herville Schtein mostly choosing the path of least resistance. I just got drawn into this strip as I discovered what looked like our time was not, as the tragic protagonist is only gradually inserted into an alternate future.

This narrative complexity is accompanied by a comparable artistic flowering. As with every webcomic worth following the line-work improves substantially as experience is gained, now it's evolved into a psychedelic swirling of colour, but it's also the little things that work;  the doctor's red eyes,  the shadows in their characters faces as well, the move from black and white to colour increases the overall texture exponentially.

This world isn't spoonfed to you and this strip gets better as there is an emergence from what looks like a dull mad scientist parody into something more morally weighted. I know the  Websnark isn't really a webcomics critic anymore but the term 'Cerebus syndrome' is quite effective here, the first chapter looks like meandering around and after that there's a lot of ret-connning, the characters seem to grow into more substantial roles.

I haven't been so pleasantly surprised for a long time, maybe reading slice of life strips has brutalised my senses because this is a long term commitment that I believe is worth reading just to see how fortitude comes from feckless, needless rage. It's not an emotion that webcomics emphasise, mostly going for glib sweet nothings. This is a richer thematic approach and deserves to be read.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

ranga pride 4 life: Red's planet

First off, I like the cartoony sheen on display here, it's good to see a crisp clean cut work. I know it's a webcomic form of a print comic and again, it shows, the colours present are a vivid luminosity that elevates the page. I also guess as webcomic readers we're used to a 'gen x' adult perspective and this strip comes into the unknown via the viewpoint of a 10 year old redheaded girl called Red as she's abducted by aliens and brought to a fantastical space scape. I'm sold and it's the expressions that really sell this strip (as opposed to Family man, heh and sigh... L.A.W.L.S ), the facial expressions are fluid and fun and intimate a vast universe of trippy sights and sounds.

This is an excursion into an alien landscape that's been injected with fun. It's got the right tone, at first I was wary because of the stylistic touches of the strip, I thought they looked childish. This isn't childish, it's a smorgasbord of alien life and Eddie Pittman  has the ambition and sheer skill required to pull off displaying gibbering xenomorphs, robots and multiple appendages without a blink.

The previous experience in animation clearly shows through here and it's a giddy inflection to the strip that makes reading it a joyous experience. Imagine a sleek hyperactive Star Wars universe on LSD and you'd be coming close. This is really only getting started and I think it's a welcome addition to what's out there. I'm definitely going to be investigating the rest of Space dock 7's roster of science fiction focused webcomics.

*Errr.....a 'ranga' is an informal term Australians used for red haired people.

Musical Accompaniment: Klaxons, myths of the near future.   Psychosis in musical form, a dystopian ranting mash up with fully sick hyperactive beats. 

Monday, 2 May 2011

Animal house: Family man

If you're expecting cheap thrills,  Family man is not going to provide it. If there is a lupine werewolf horror element here it's going to be a long time coming. We're placed into the world of  the eighteenth century,  which were boom years for German universities, Prussia in particular emphasised technology and philosophy. We're brought into this new age by the experiences of Luther Levy, part of a lower middle class family of indeterminate social standing, looking for a university post. Their father's conversion from Judaism into Christianity being a key point here. It's an interesting tack as it's certainly a world webcomics have not touched; the cusp of the industrial revolution.

This is another case of beautiful backgrounds and perspective and a more shaky grasp on facial features. It is a strip willing to slow down, letting scenes play out over several pages adding an almost filmic quality. The first image that came into my mind upon glancing at the opening scenes of chapter 1 was the grimy uh...'rococo punk' of Brotherhood of the wolf. The artwork is technically miles beyond the expectations we currently have for webcomics but the queasiness I feel on glancing at the protagonists face is sometimes off-putting (L.A.W.L.S  is another chief offender I think.)

The eighteenth century hasn't really been an epoch that fantasy has touched. Its themes and vistas are hard to transplant outside of earth's time frame. While steampunk and low fantasy can recreate new worlds by virtue of their technology or lack thereof,  this period finds itself in limbo as far as the fantastical in concerned. It's too early for steampunk and too late for fantasy. I'm not  sure if this strip this lies within my purported remit but its sheer depth makes it a good historical fantasy, the creator is deadly serious about recreating this world and any flaws present are equalled out.

The archives are pretty large and the reader is chucked into a homecoming with lots of exposition given by various characters. It's titled as a graphic novel, and the emphasis on chapters and pages makes it feel like a clearing house for a dead wood comic more than a webcomic per se, that's not necessarily a bad thing, just look at Ellis' Freak Angels, The notes and the FAQ are quite dense and clearly show a well thought out internal world  This is a slow burn and there's not a lot of whizz bang adventure or gun fights or hectic adventure.

This webcomic WILL take a lot of reading and the pay-off, even more so than any strip I've reviewed, will be longer than a casual strip. The farewell from Luther's mother shows an undercurrent of emotion that isn't really current in webcomics as yet, regardless of how sophisticated the medium has become. There's lots of lingering stares and 'needless' panels and pages but frankly this is the closest to a novel in webcomic form I've seen so far.

Musical accompaniment: Gravenhurst; The Western lands. coy folk softness and screeching distortion mix up like rosewater and ichor in a foretaste of hell.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

I see dead people: The zombie hunters

First off the bat the name of the strip, the Zombie hunters, has to be the most direct webcomic name I've  seen in a while, it's pretty naff. Don't worry though, if the name looks nondescript you'll soon be drawn in by a visually appealing mix of cute banter and slithering undead terror.

The use of colour as in the cartoony character segues look almost manga style chibi, it's a mixture of realism and goofiness in a dreary grey pop-apocalyptic  background. It's the humour that drew me in here, when end of the world scenarios crop up they are mostly affecting and stoic epics like Crossed (the first time Garth Ennis has made me cry) and the Walking Dead. Instead, this isn't  straight-out humour parody strip but it is a self-aware show of fear induced rage and its affects on people, a dark humour created under duress. It changes frame by frame from harsh realism to kawaii cute and I think it works quite well.

One thing to consider is the emphasis placed on morphology of these munted monstrosities, there's lots of varieties. It's good to see a division between  mere shamblers and speed-driven undead hunters with numerous other classes of zombies. In video game terms the Left 4 dead & Deadspace series are the most obvious indicators of this new specialisation of the undead and the categorisation of these monsters is shown in a succinct 'encyclopaedia' section. Where a strip like Dead Winter possibly developed ad hoc, this looks planned from the get go and it's all the better for it. The idea of a group living infected as existing in a social limbo is quite intriguing, the vampire hunters are disaffected killers because there's no other role for them.

Yes, the zombie trope had been done to death (heh), but that's never the point, survival and its associated discontents are the point of the zombie/ post apocalyptic genres. The point of the strip is seeing characters interacting in fear and rage,  trying to survive the night. You'll need to go through the archive twice this as there's a bit of interplay between the current storyline & the past, it only started to click together after comparing different chapters. There's no slow build up here, it's all action and anybody with a soul will like this strip.

Musical accompaniment: Gallows, Orchestra of wolves. Shouting, rage, psychosis, aneurysm, rinse and repeat.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Do androids dream of Jersey shore: Ironborn

This is a strip ostensibly about a divergence between science & magic; but on closer inspection it's more about relationships and identity. From the get-go the strip's heroine, Opal, is suddenly thrust into a maelstrom of shifting alliances & competing ideologies about how the world should function, a basic technology versus science dichotomy. So it's steampunk but not in your face about it, advanced sentient robots co-exist with magic. The set up of 2 cities via a fable-spinner introduction is minimalist but it works for now, Opal's miraculous 'game-changing' situation is the entry point for the reader & the rest of her band of ragtag 'gang'.

The varied shading evident is a nice touch ,at times it feels like a notebook discovered, veering between primitive and textured so if the faces shown can be a bit skeewhif then the backgrounds are some of the best present within webcomics. I think the inconsistency is part of the charm. If nothing else there is a sense of whimsy here, a good sense of pacing and the storyline certainly has been envisioned as part of a long-term consistency. It's a mature and rich ecosystem that's been put in place for readers, and it will take commitment to go through the archives, I believe it would be worth it.

The varying personalities of the robots interest me, it's the little sideways gambits of minor characters, the vocabulary and political chicaneries that serves as a background to Opal's discovery of how her powers work. Opal's numb lack of awareness means her learning curve is more easily followed by the reader.I'm not sure where this is going to go but what I've read so far points toward a decent and measured approach to what could have been bog-standard superhero dross. 

Musical accompaniment:  Sixtoo, Chewing on glass and other miracle cures. Background malevolence, somebody's watching you, seething distortion and sense of unease.