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Web Comic Wednesday: The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

Do you need to see anything else to understand why you should see this web comic in all its glory? There is a GIANT LUMBERJACK fighting a T-REX. Anything else I can say here is moot. But fine, I'll say things anyway, its probably what you came here for.

The Adventures of Dr. McNinja is a comic about a ninja who is also a doctor. Does that sound absurdly silly? Well, what if I told you his receptionist was a gorilla, and his sidekick was a raptor-riding child bearing the most magnificent mustache this side of Burt Reynolds? Then it might be starting to sound crazy-awesome.

Dr. McNinja and his associates protect the city of Cumberland, Maryland from a variety of threats, including but not limited to Dracula, zombie ninjas, 80's action stars turned super villains and “the most radical man in the radical lands”, known only as King Radical.

The Doctor himself comes from a family of Irish ninjas, and his main interest in superhero and ninja skills in general come from an obsession with wanting to be Batman. Despite his best attempts as always being the hero, his ax-crazy nature as a ninja often comes out, especially in the beginning. He has issues with obsession in general, as seen when he tries to thwart King Radical, but is still highly skilled in both doctoring and

I can't even begin to list all of the side characters here and do them any justice. There the time-traveling mayor, the rest of the McNinja family, who are disappointed in their son's choice of career, the citizens of the Radical Lands, the Doctor's mentor Ben Franklin (a clone of the original) and the list just goes on.

The Good
If you enjoy crazy-awesome, then this one of the best things out there for you. Nearly everything runs on a mixture of rule of cool (you kind of have to be familiar with tvtropes to understand me, huh?) and the best cliches of 80's action movies.
Well, the ones not in here.
But you know what? They're still good stories in the conventional sense. There's still an arc, still character development in which they find out things about each other and themselves, and the twists and climaxes are still clever and exciting. Creator Chris Hastings has worked on Deadpool since the this comic has come out, and reading it you can certainly see why.

There is a fine line being being awesome and being off-putting and confusing, and this comic has a fantastic grasp of where that line is. There is a point where Dr. McNinja has to surf a rocket-powered robot from Dracula's moon-base back to Earth, and in context every single one of those words makes sense.

The Bad
I can't think of much to put in here. If you're looking for something artsy or dramatic, this isn't your comic. If you like Tarantino's movies, or just want to read something that's off-the-wall fun with little to no limits, then this is definitely up your ally.

The Verdict
In case you'd forgotten.


Holy crap fan art!

JustPlainJim at deviantart brought the characters of Eclipse Nightfire and Gammie to life!


Web Comic Wednesday: XKCD

As a student, I always hated math. It's not that I was terrible at it, I could just never shake the question of when in my life I was going to need to use cosine, or calculate the surface area of a pyramid. SO when I heard about XKCD, a comic entirely based on science and math, I was skeptical of my capacity to enjoy it.

Fortunately, my skepticism was soon quashed. Understanding of math and science isn't usually a requirement for understanding the jokes here, though it just might make the better. I wouldn't know. I don't understand math. Instead, the humor comes from, frankly, incredibly clever writing. Sometimes there isn't really any humor, but the writing and ideas are still interesting enough to keep you fascinated.

I realize that I'm not doing a great job of telling you what this comic is about, and that's because it's a very difficult thing to define. There are no main characters, no overarching plots, just whatever Randall Munroe thinks is funny or insightful at the time.

The Good
As I've said, the writing and ideas are top-notch, and will almost certainly keep your interest. Several times a comic will get incredibly deep or existentialist, then be brought back to humorous through the sudden use of water guns or carnivorous dinosaurs.

Others that don't have humor at all are more of experiments with the art form of online sequential art. Notably, one comic titled “umwelt” displayed a completely different comic depending on your browser, location and IP address range. Others will take advantage of zoom, panoramic view or gifs to make their joke.

If it seems like this “the good” segment is relatively short, its because its hard to put into words what makes this comic good. Do not misunderstand me, this comic is better than good, this comic is great. But the existential nature of a lot of them, combined with the lack of overarching structure makes reasons and themes somewhat difficult to pin down. At the end of the day, all I can really say is that each comic will leave you feeling...something. Even if you aren't sure what that something is.
I THINK I was amused...
The Bad
If you're looking for a comic with a load of deep characters or a complex plot line, look elsewhere. Likewise, many may be turned off by the stick-figure art style, or the comics that are all text. If visual art is what appeals to you, well, maybe this isn't for you either.

There are also a number of comics that remind me of those “inspirational” posters you would see behind a manager's desk. They're more heartwarming and tell the message better, but you can't shake the feeling that they're telling you “what life is all about”. Some people really get into that kind of things, I'm just not one of them, I suppose.

Lastly, for the sake of fair warning, the first comics on the site are not indicative of the entire thing. They're doodles from Munroe's school notebooks, and if you skip until you start seeing stick figures, you'll be at the actual comic.

The Verdict
Read this comic. Seriously, at least give it a good chance. It makes you think, makes you chuckle, and makes you...well, we'll just say “other”. There are reasons you may not get into it, but from what I can tell they're few and far between.


Web Comic Wednesday: Least I Could Do

Ryan Sohmer is a comic creator that I can't quite decide if I like or not. On the one hand, there is a strong argument for his comic “Least I could Do”'s central character Rayne Summers being a self-insert Mary Sue (a character too perfect to be interesting), and he can come off as a bit cocky through his comic, such as his current storyline where he-I mean Rayne, has an idea that everyone's sure will revolutionize the news industry, or when he implies that he's the only hard working guy in the entire web-comic industry.

But here's the thing, unlike characters like Ethan from Ctrl+Alt+Del, both Ryan and Rayne having redeeming qualities that make them bearable, and even enjoyable. Sohmer may come off as cocky, but in fairness he really is one of the busiest people in web-comics, currently running three of them at once.

LICD mainly focuses on the antics of Rayne Summers, a guy in his late-twenties going through a variety of real-life and exaggerated-real-life events with his friends. There is no real overarching plot here, just a series of mini-arcs.

The Good
Rayne himself is, as stated, a more likable version of Ethan. His antics, while wild and absurd, usually don't go too deeply into the realm of illegal or mean-spirited. More often than not, at least in recent years, we find out those antics have a greater purpose in trying to help his friends and their families. That's probably what actually makes him tolerable: his loyalty. Sure, Ethan may help his friends out if he gains by it...or he isn't distracted...or he isn't the one harming them in the first place...but Rayne's help seems to genuinely come from a place of love. He also developes as a character, starting as a one-note sex fiend and slowly figuring out the worth of his other relationships, especially with his young niece.

The other characters, while still usually foils to Rayne, actually have their own characteristics. Noel, Raynes best friend, is often the straight man, but has his own life with a marriage and children, as well as limits to his patience with Rayne. Mickey has to deal with being overweight, low-self confidence in the beginning, but he too goes through character development. Rayne's roommate Mike is depressed, lonely, but tries to keep a brave face and can still be funny when he needs to be.

There is some drama in the series, but its never as sudden or as jarring as in Ctrl+Alt+Del. When we find out (spoilers) Rayne has struggled with depression, the explanation makes sense with everything we've learned about him before. When we find out (again, spoilers) that Mickey's father was murdered when he was a child, its jarring, but there's less of a tone in the mood of the comic than you would think.

Finally, the scenarios seem more real (usually). Unlike Ctrl+Alt+Del where the problems and settings are fantastical, the problems closer to real-life are easier to connect with and actually care about. That has a lot to do with worlds more clever writing and infinitely more likable characters.

The Bad
The comic can be a bit preachy at times, especially on the occasions where Sohmer decides to write about world issues.
As stated above though, the biggest complaint made is usually about Sohmer's perceived arrogance and how it transfers into Rayne. I suppose once it was pointed out to me I started to see it, but to be honest its never anything too jarring for me. If you're really put off by things like that, I could see how you would not like this comic.
Likewise, if you're put off by constant sexual humor, start about halfway through the comic's run. At the start, that is literally the entire joke of the comic. Rayne likes sex. A lot. Again though, it gets better.

The Verdict
I'd suggest at least giving this comic a chance. If you're put off at the first few comics, hop into the archive and start from the middle, or latter third. If you still don't like it, well, I won't blame you, but I think most of you will find something to like here.


Awful Comic Thursday: The Bat-Ape

I guess DC was attempting to boost sales by tapping into the largely forgotten ape demographic.


Web Comic Wednesday: Crtl+Alt+Del

Oh Ctrl+Alt+Del comics, what a rocky relationship we've had. When I started reading you, I thought you were great. Your characters were funny, your jokes were funny, Chef Brian was funny, it was just an all around funny thing.

Then something happened. I don't know what it was. Maybe I grew up a bit, maybe my tastes changed. More than likely, however, you stopped making jokes and started your string of “serious” plots right out of a junior high notebook.

But you know what, Ctrl+Alt+Del? You've gotten better. No, I still don't like you as much as I did when I was 15, and I doubt I ever will, but you've ditched your overcomplicated cast of characters and your only semi-competent grasp of creative drama, and gone back to making jokes. Is it only a matter of time before you decided to “expand” the characteristics of players 1-4? Probably. But for now, you've reached the lofty goal of “there are worse time wasters you could do.”

Okay, I've rambled on about this enough. Ctrl+Alt+Del is a webcomic by Tim Buckly, and at its start was about a pair of gaming roommates (lamp shading their own “originality” from time to time) as they talk about video games and the turns the industry is taking. Okay, so this sounds like dollar-store Penny Arcade...and it was...but then things get a little hairy.

Ethan, the standard “crazy but apparently considered “lovable” in universe” character becomes smitten with a girl named Lilah, who is, for reasons utterly beyond me, smitten in return. This is where the drama switch gets pulled. If you follow the web comic world in the slightest, you know what happens. They get married, Lilah gets pregnant, and completely out of nowhere a miscarriage ensues. Because drama.

There are other characters, such as the relatively straight-man archetype Lucas, the sentient and sapient x-box he created named Zeke and their mysterious and rarely-seen third roommate Scott, but at the end of the day, the story mainly falls down to Ethan who, to be honest, isn't terribly interesting. He's random, kookie and operates under what can only be defined as 'insane troll logic', and while that amused me to no end at 15, I just find him annoying now. Lilah and Ethan don't have terribly much personality either, they're mostly just foils to Ethan.

The Good
When the comic decides to make jokes, it can be at least passable. Your time is still better spent reading Penny Arcade, but they're not all that bad.

The best thing to ever happen to this comic was the decision to completely lose its “main cast”, and just goes to using the Players (a group of characters named Player 1, 2, 3 and 4) for commentary, or using actual game characters to lampoon the flaws in the work itself. Again, they're decent.

The Bad
I've heard a lot of rumors about Tim Buckly, but until I get verifiable reports telling me they're true, I'm not spreading them here. Besides, we're here to talk about the comic itself.

First off, the lack of effort. Buckly has made videos showing how he makes Ctrt+Alt+Del, and they are maddening. He as a set of angry eyes, a set of lazy eyes, a set of hopeful eyes, and he just clicks and drags them over to the blank face for that scene. Wow. Just wow. The same goes for every facial feature and plenty of the background.

Second, as I none-too-subtly stated above, the drama isn't really well integrated into the story, or all that well thought out. It seems that Buckly will just decide that there's been too much fun for too long and pull the drama lever, throwing in the most horrible thing he can think of completely out of left field.

The Verdict
I've said it already. The recent ones are okay, but seriously, just go read Penny Arcade. It's a better use of your time.


Awesome Comic Tuesday: Badass(er) Batman

Batman has a crossbow and a motorcycle. All your arguments are invalid forever because Batman.


Jolly Cooperation: A Link to the Past, Part 4 (or 5...depending)

After the real part four's video footage suffered catastrophic failure, this was deemed the new part 4! Turk and Mike's magical adventure through A Link to the Past continues!