Friday, October 28, 2016

Retrospective: Sorcery 101

Look a post!  That isn't on the first friday of the month.  What sorcery is this?  Well, about that. . .

Sorcery 101 ended last week and I felt I needed to write this up as soon as I could because I have a few things to say about it.

Let me start off by saying it isn't a bad comic, but there was something missing.  Even back in my reposting of the original review (which added a current comments) I noticed I wasn't quite getting into it that much and at the time I couldn't understand why.  I do now because in ending, it made it all the more obvious.

It does have a rich and involved world.  There's lots of characters, interactions, magic, werewolves, vampires, angels, demons, monsters, bureaucracy and all that detailed out and played with to one extent or another.  There's a lot of good characters, their motivations and goals well spelled out, and some with eternal mysteries (what hell is up with Seth anyway?).  It's got a lot going for it and I think when I started reading it I expected it to go somewhere grand.

It never did.

The ending spelled it out because, well, it just kind of happened.  There was no grand battle, or plot to foil.  There was no mystery revealed or legend confronted.  There was some minor fighting, a car crash and a death, but nothing else.  And then the comic is over.

To an extent, I suspect that this is kind of on purpose, it was just supposed to be the daily lives of these people in this strange world.  Urban fantasy without the world destroying plots or heroics.  Just everyday living.  And that's fine, it did it pretty well, but constantly it was being driven as if there WAS more going on, hints and tips abound, mysteries running through, plot threads seemed to be drawing out.  Yet nothing was done with it, and while some ends were kind of resolved, for the most part if the last chapter happened after the first, I don't think anyone would have noticed.

I think the best way to put it is that Sorcery 101 feels more like the prologue to another story.  It's setting up the world, the characters, the major players and their motivations, and in the NEXT comic, that's when the interesting stuff happens.  But there is no next comic, this is it.  And considering it's been going for 11 years, at this point next comic was never going to happen.

Again, it's not BAD because of that, it's just not fulfilling.  The only bit of the ending that was interesting is the reflection of the first and last page of the comic.  Beyond that I think this is a comic I will just remember as one I used to read, and nothing more.

Next time, which should be next week, should see the next part of The Successor.  Until then kiddies.  Oh and happy Halloween.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Successor: The Court

The titular location of the story is Gunnerkrigg Court itself.  Much of the story takes place within it, or near it, and much of the plot is due to the odd things that happen on the Court's grounds.

In many ways, the Court is as much a character in it's own right as it is a place.  It's imposing, massive and oddly empty place.  Soulless would be a great description, an almost lifeless place.

It isn't dead, per say.  There are no free animals and plants that have been noticed, but there are a lot of robots, a LOT of them.  They perform so many tasks that humans are almost unnecessary for the bulk of the tasks at hand.

There are people in the Court, of course, mostly students (a couple thousand at best) and their teachers.  There are others, but they are few and far between, or if they are many, they are unseen.  This makes the Court feel very sterile indeed, so when life forms appear, they are usually magnificent and unexpected.

The Court is order to the Forest's chaos, and the result is that despite the lack of adults or guards, the Court is generally safe enough for the students to wander around unsupervised.  This may actually be intentional as well, as the students often go off to do experiments and the like because, well, there's not much else to do.

The real embodiment of this is in Kat, who is both an exceptional mechanical genius but possibly some kind of robotic angel (however that works).  When not taking classes or going on adventures, she busies herself building, designing and modifying various bits of technology, from an anti-gravity device to bio-robotics.  The Court does little to reign her in, though how much is because they don't know is unclear.  The results have been rather spectacular honestly.

And here in is another difference from the Forest:  how fast and strong one is doesn't matter within the Court.  Well, not matter is relative, but it does mean it's not necessary for survival.  Being intelligent or having a special power will make one a big shot within the Court, maybe, if the Court's leaders view it as important.  Characters like Zimmy and Gamma are allowed to run free for some nebulous reason, for example, when danger is all the two of them actually represent.

This results in many of the students of the Court coming FROM the Forest.  They're converted to human forms and do odd computational tasks within the walls.  The only prize for them is a name, which is just kind of thrown to them.  The Court doesn't seem to much care what they do, as long as they do what they want, beyond that. . .

Beyond that what the Court wants is nebulous at best.  Hints are given that what it's up to is no good, but there's nothing solid there.  Any action the Court takes, in the past or present, seems to be about defending itself from the outside, rather than something more sinister.  Nothing good comes from this, of course, but it does make one question whether it SHOULD do these things.  In the end, the story of the comic is about peeling back some of these mysteries and seeing what the Court actually is and what it wants.

The only way to do this, though, is to bring all these elements together, and that is through a Bridge.  Until next time.