Sunday, July 3, 2011

Webcomic Feature: Schlock Mercenary

Guns, tanks, warships, politics, aliens, antimatter, war, and hilarity IN SPACE!  If just that got your curiosity going, the link to the comic is on the right side of the page.

That’s only part of what you get from Schlock Mercenary, one of the more impressive webcomics in out there today.  Howard Tayler has been producing a daily strip of Schlock Mercenary every day without fail for 11 years.  That’s over 5000 comics in succession without missing a day.  Not only that, but he has managed to put each of these 5000 comics into a single, cohesive, and understandable plotline.  The many adventures that occur and the vast amount of intrigue and galactic events that occur all work themselves in to a single plot which remains, to the best of my knowledge, consistent.  That is possibly the most impressive feat of artistry since the Sistine Chapel.  More or less.

Plot continuity aside, Schlock Mercenary centres on a group of, you guessed it, mercenaries on their many contracts which generally turn into adventures, escapades, or more commonly, Charlie Foxtrots.  There are a host of entertaining characters, including the namesake Sergeant Schlock, whose plasma cannons are... ominous, to say the least.  While he is the starting point for the comic, he is not necessarily the main character, although he makes sure to make an appearance pretty much everywhere.  Howard manages to take a fairly standard plot, such as working security at a mall (not one of their most glamorous contracts) and use it to develop several characters simultaneously, while at the same time throwing several curveballs into the story which keep you on your toes.  The result is a two-pronged hook to the webcomic – you have to keep reading to find out how both the characters and the plot unfold.  It’s terrible.  Fortunately, as he updates every day (and that does include the weekends), it means that you never have to wait long for the next snippet, even if it is only that – a snippet.

The humour in the comic is great.  As it is a daily strip, each day’s comic tends to take the form of most 3 or 4 panel comics, with a punchline at the end, which seldom disappoints.  He has a tendency (which has lessened over time, in fairness) towards 4th wall references, hence I mentioned him recently when discussing said wall.  There’s a lot of self-reference and intricacy in his sense of humour which makes the comic quite a complex work overall.  Basically, if you’re worried about it not being funny enough for you, I spent about 2 weeks reading through the archives of this comic and nearly fell out of my chair several times.

The wealth of the archives is one of the best things about this comic.  Whenever I’m bored, I tend to just click the ‘Random’ button on the site and read a random story arc.  There’s so much there that you can always find something entertaining to read.  It really is the comic that keeps on giving.

I cannot recommend Schlock Mercenary more highly.  It will provide you with entertainment for a very long time, and you can keep rereading it probably forever.  It is intelligent, it is complex, and it is hilarious.  Go forth and enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment