Friday, June 7, 2013

The Standard: The Best

Early Sluggy Freelance is a great guide on showing how comics get established, evolve and change into something more.  That something more is the real focus this time, as we explore the three best stories, in my not so humble opinion, of the entire comic.

Why are they the best?  Probably because they are the ones I remember most clearly.  There are a lot of little stories throughout Sluggy's run, so remembering them all is damn near impossible (I didn't recall the X-Files parody at ALL in my first year read through).  These three, however, stick out in my mind best, and I think represent Sluggy at it's best.  Are they perfect?  No, but they best show what Abrams can do, and what webcomics as a whole can do as story telling medium.

The Bug, the Witch and the Robot is the first of these stories.  There are three things going on in this story line that stick out.  The first different artwork that takes place in Gwynn's mind as she struggles with the bug trying to claim her body.  The panels aren't square, rimmed with fine print laughter and insults, and the content of the panels are like pencil sketches giving it a dreamlike nature.  In the middle of the story is the second thing, a rather significant turning point in the Oasis storyline, which I'll get into in a bit.  The rest of the story is dominated by a really intricate character study and confrontation.  This is Gwynn's story, her greatest moment in the comic, in fact, and it explores how she views not just herself, but her friends as well, and maybe just a bit of how they view her.  The physical fight isn't nearly as long or as epic as I remember it being, but it was still satisfying and fitting.  And of course, Gwynn's final solution is one of those Crowning Moments of Awesome TVTropes loves to play with.

Speaking of Crowning Moments of Awesome, next comes Sluggy's.  Bar none, Fire and Rain is the peak of Abrams' story telling abilities.  It's about scale here, it's far smaller than one would think.  Maybe six weeks total for the entire story.  This is Zoe's story here, as she tries to come to grips with her friends, her feelings and herself.  Oh, and then Oasis shows up.  Ah, Oasis, she's probably the most well planned part of Sluggy's universe, Abrams has stated that she has been planned out from the beginning, but to what end?  Hard to say, but her bout with madness within Fire and Rain is one of the most important pieces within the whole of the universe he's created.  We oddly learn very little about Oasis during this important bit, except that even she doesn't know much, which is just as important.  Again, though, this isn't about Oasis really, she's there, but she's always kind of there in Sluggy.  No, this is about Zoe, and the fact that we're quite sure at this point she has some rather strong feelings for Torg.  Love?  Probably, but that was also 11 YEARS ago at this point.  Yeah, any movement in that area has been derailed almost constantly for over a decade now.  Still, those feelings remain, as does Torg's feelings, which get gut checked next.

That Which Redeems isn't a short story compared to the other two.  It's about 7 MONTHS long, and there's a lot going on through it.  Of the three, though, it has the strongest theme, "that which redeems, consumes" and leaves a very telling mark on Torg for the rest of the comic.  It is Torg's story, as he is the most competent man in the room throughout the story, and the one who knows how and is willing to fight.  Yet he's also the most vulnerable even in a world where food fighting is nearly a war crime BECAUSE food fighting is nearly a war crime.  It's easy to get to him by going after those who cannot help themselves, forcing him into bad situations.  He manages thanks to his magic sword and personal skill and quick thinking, but there are more than a few hairy moments.  And there is also death, which is what makes this story so important and meaningful.  It lays a strong groundwork for the rest of the comic, lasting even until the current storylines, and leaving a strong impact on Torg as a character.  We are also given a glimpse of what could have been, and what could still be here.  The fault of the story is it's length, which feels much longer than it probably should.  I suspect it's due to Abrams running a Saturday guest strip congruently with it (I skipped most of those on this read through) and occasionally dumping out a quick 3 - 4 panel gag strip rather than pushing the story forward.  It's strong, yes, but it could be tighter in so many ways.

So before we end, if you're a fan you probably noticed I skipped Dangerous Days.  It is my key example of a culmination event.  Well, it's a bit too much, and I don't really think of it as the best story.  When I think "great" and "Sluggy," Dangerous Days doesn't fit in there.  It IS important, to the comic as a whole, but not really as a piece of fiction.  And as I said, this list is about the ones I remembered, I couldn't even recall the title for Dangerous Days, and only a rough lay out of the plot.  I remembered far more of these three.

Next time, Oceans Unmoving.

1 comment:

  1. Hello my names Marco Im from Spain and Im the artist of the comic "Reality" , written by UK writer Tony McDougall, about a girl obssessed with fame that accidentaly gains superpowers. Here's the link to ouur newl awesome website where you can read it and review it if you like it.

    Regards, Marco.