The Belfry WebComics Index

Endtown

CID:18350 Subscriptions:124Readers this Week:34
Frequency:Semi-Weekly
Url:http://www.gocomics.com/endtown
Genres:Action-Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Furry, Science Fiction, Transformation
Description*:The survivors of a genetic-transformation apocalypse eke out an existence in the underground 'Endtown', hiding from the xenophobic purist 'Topsiders' who seek to cleanse humanity of the anthropomorphic and not-so-anthropomorphic 'mutants'.

A separate story (in the same world) from the artist's original (completed) webcomic Endtown on Modern Tales.

Updates Mon-Wed-Fri.

this is now a duplicate of CID 16645
* Descriptions are user submitted and might not express the views of the admins of this site, or of the comics creators themselves.
Flags:L Adult Language
V Graphic Violence
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Entry Added:Wed, Jan 19, 2011
Entry Modified:Sun, May 2, 2021

Reviews: 2   Average Rating:
 

07:39pm 10/10/2018
by Rana
 
Disappointing
Endtown is a fallen comic. It is difficult to put into words the depth of my disappointment with it, and yet I shall try. Eight years ago I would have given this comic three stars, six years ago I would have given it four. Now? I need to explain a few things first...

(TLDR at the bottom)

There can be no denying that this comic started out fairly strong out of the gate, originally a gag-a-day strip in the newspaper mold, not unlike a lot of older webcomics before the ongoing plots that they tended to eventually evolve became the standard for new webcomics and the funny-page gag-a-day stuff rarer.

Shortly after we were introduced to the original main duo, the comic, true to type, developed an actual plot rather than just a series of jokes about and within a setting. With this plot came intriguing storytelling, grand adventure, endearing characters, witty humor, the occasional moment of insight, and the message that even at the end of the world there are still new things to learn, that people can surprise themselves with the truth of what's really important to them, and that love might be the most powerful binding force in all the world. It wasn't the greatest story I'd ever read, but it was definitely above average.

Flash forward, through a briefer story that introduces a few more likable (and intentionally unlikable) characters and which feels like a sort of shim between the first and this next one, and we come to what I would call the meat of the comic, in an introduction that feels like a minor retool. Not only do we get a new pair of brilliantly designed and paired main characters in short order, incredibly appealing as a duo and soon to become the main focus of the comic for such a long time that they might legitimately be regarded as the foundation for whatever small success it had, but we are also introduced to the entire central setting of the comic all over again, this time in living and breathing color (figuratively speaking). It reminds me of the way some webcomic creators will make a second start to their comic once their skills have developed and then place a notice on the site to the effect: "Start >here< for preference, or if you really want to look at terrible art and writing, start back >here< instead", merely with less of a self-effacing song and dance made about it.

This second introduction leads directly into one of the best stories of the comic, a third jaunt into the wasteland above, swinging expertly between action, romance, comedy, dialog and exposition without any one element outstaying its welcome, that really illustrates some of the themes of the setting, gives the Topsider faction some much-needed fleshing out beyond the rote Nazi-allegory villainy they'd previously displayed, and most notably gives the characters - the women especially - some real opportunities to shine and bounce off of each other (there is one moment especially which will likely make you cheer). The story quality declines somewhat towards the end, especially as a particular element is introduced (see the bracketed comment at the very end of this review), but on the whole, the part dedicated to the main characters and their companions is a minor masterpiece.

The next story is, it has to be said, a mixed bag. It starts out brilliantly, expanding the scope of one new character, introducing another, highly appealing female character, illustrating the workings of one of the main parts of the setting, and then reinforcing the most appealing characteristics of the more extroverted and lovable of the two main characters while charming the audience with her interactions with the world around her. After a good first segment, it then becomes noticeably more heavy-handed with its themes, much slower paced and dialog-heavy, to the point of sometimes becoming bogged down in its own musings and intrigues, though this is arguably still tolerable considering the character dynamics, especially with the return of the comic's secondary duo and one or two moments from the villain of the piece. Towards the end, I sadly have to report that it honestly becomes somewhat questionable - one of the main characters behaves in ways which don't line up with previous characterization or real world dynamics very well, and the resolution of the mystery is, frankly, kind of a let-down. The only upside is a brief cameo by one of the original stars of the comic, there to give his blessing to the new main characters as they go on their way.

However, things perk up in short order with the next story, featuring yet another Topside quest! Once again the two mains are introduced to the desert, although the story's treatment of the female as inexperienced and incapable is a little questionable considering all she went through and achieved not two stories ago. Nevertheless, they soon find trouble in the form of two new and engagingly well-written characters, who then get them into a whole load more trouble, leading to an encounter with a new society that honestly seems in some ways like an even less believable version of the Topsiders before the masks came off, demonstrating negative societal behaviors that usually take multiple generations of cultural mythology-building and the development of ingrained biases to achieve. This, however, can be forgiven as it then becomes the mere backdrop to an encounter with something far darker (and weirder). I won't spoil it, but suffice it to say the earlier inconsistencies in characterization are overshadowed by the effective formation of what almost amounts to an adventuring group complete with a miniature Dungeons and Dragons-style underground romp in which a certain character comes into her own after half a chapter of uncertainty and doubt. The only downsides towards the end of this tale are the repeated asides to the male character of the main couple getting lost in despair, which alternate between bouts of naiveté and self-pitying angst that make you want to slap him more than empathize with him, and the loss of the more promising of the two new characters. I have to wonder if the plot could have been written as to leave that character in place while keeping the general outline of events. Nevertheless, the story ends on a high note, with another two and a half new characters added to the party, a heart on its way to being mended, and a relationship tested and found to be solid and enduring.

... and then it becomes increasingly apparent, once one reads past a certain point in the following story, that there is some moment in time in which the author very distinctly changed his plans for the comic and its characters. The effect is not unlike sitting in the back of a car while the driver takes a sudden hard turn, smacking your face into the window hard enough to bruise and loosen fillings.

The change is most notable with one character, long the backbone of the better years of the comic and someone who was almost certainly a focus of much of the readers' investment, who quite suddenly and unexpectedly sees her personality altered entirely (indeed, retroactively!), multiple years of established character and development on her part apparently forgotten and effectively thrown out the window, her relationship uprooted in the most ridiculously unbelievable manner, and her partner summarily and lazily hooked up with a newcomer. The worst part is that it all comes across as being down to a decision on the author's part to swap her out for a newer female lead that he must have found preferable - the narrative of the chapter in question appears to serve no other purpose that couldn't have been inserted anywhere else in the comic (and all those minor) than to remove her from it.

The issues with the story in question even go as far as undermining what could be said to be the message of the character through every story she has appeared in so far, which can probably best be summed up as "keep going, look forward to the good times, people are worthwhile, and don't let the world get you down" by suddenly presenting said message as the self-sustaining delusions of a horribly broken person who will compromise her own principles the first chance she gets. It's a repeat of the inconsistency issues two chapters previous, except this time worse by an order of magnitude. Even worse is the fact that throughout the story said message is progressively transplanted in a dumbed-down form containing only the last sentiment to the departing character's disturbingly-obvious replacement in a manner that, frankly, feels not only intended to be emotionally manipulative, but insulting to one's intelligence.

The end result is to make one feel like one has wasted a lot of time reading that lengthy section of the comic containing the character in question, which by the time one reaches the end of it has formed most of the comic's run. I would say the chapter in question even unintentionally erased the aforementioned messages and sentiments of the very first chapter from the comic's universe in its haste to accomplish its mission, so the feeling of waste might extend to the entirety of the comic for some.

It doesn't end there, either, with an awkward and questionably-conceived coda to the tale in which audience members harboring opinions critical of the story are preemptively represented as children in-universe as the author's obvious self-insert regards them with detached scorn and then proceeds to mock the desire for a better written ending to the face of yet another audience stand-in, finishing with a sequence in which he muses to himself on how bothersome the audience (in the shape of the stand-in) are being by not accepting the tale as legitimate (showing a bizarre half-awareness of the issues with the story's writing that I can only assume stemmed from poorly-received negative feedback as the story itself was being written) and drops a not so subtle hint to the audience, telling them to let go of the character they so enjoyed while acting as self-praise for the man writing the story.

And yet, the troubles with the story as a whole continue thus up to the time of review. I really wanted to give the comic the benefit of the doubt after the previous tale, but came away disappointed as the next story, the most recent at the time of writing, was no better, and possibly worse in many ways, taking the form of an overextended, incessantly dark and rambling pseudo-noir jumble that really can't decide if it wants to be a thriller, a mystery, an epic, a morality play or a horror story, without ever really being able to excuse itself by successfully blending any of those elements.

It can't decide which characters to properly focus on, either, which is made worse by a bloated cast and the fact that every character on display has writing issues. New monodimensional characters are introduced that appear to be designed either to fill holes in the plot or to take up a lot of page-time doing nothing but emoting about how awful things are before dying in blandly awful ways, under-explored characters are rendered one-note and then summarily executed by authorial fiat, and recurring characters that do grab a large portion of the spotlight fail to behave consistently with their past appearances, some having singular aspects of their personalities exaggerated to ridiculous degrees, with several in particular being almost inverted from previous behavior:

* A sneering villain is suddenly and inexplicably reformed into a troubled public servant (complete with groan-worthy in-comic meta-commentary!) whose thrilling foreshadowings of villainous behavior in his last story amount to absolutely nada, with the story barefacedly asking the reader to sympathize with him when before he was either a subject of scorn or a detestable fiend and they, of course, remember exactly what he did to get where he is.
* A notable female character who was previously depicted as a level-headed deep thinker and the very image of common sense is pared down into only her most shallow impulses and understandings, reduced to some kind of straw "campus crusader".
* A gentle-spoken intellectual who worried about the future is suddenly outed as having been a murderous co-conspirator.
* The kindhearted caretaker who was previously the minder of a mental case suddenly doesn't care if his home is used as the site of brutal state-run executions so long as they don't interfere with him getting some tail.
* A man previously shown to be a legitimate and beloved uncontested hero with some confidence issues is depicted as nothing more than a well-meaning drunkard with a savage side who is treated as a useful idiot by the people of the town.

Meanwhile the actual villains of the piece are nothing but empty fluff and have no weight, threat or gravitas to them, existing only to metaphorically go "Hah, it was I!" and leave the stage. None of this is improved by the fact that the enthralling and charming character interactions that were previously a hallmark of the comic are nowhere to be found in this story, traded in for sequences of dialog that increasingly trend toward cringeworthy melodrama as the narrative wears on, made even worse by the lack of any reason or desire to get invested in the characters. The ending is again nothing less than an insult to the reader, though not in the same direct manner as the previous story's.

At the moment, as I write this in an intermission between tales, the dark bleakness of the comic has become so over the top that it would be comical if it wasn't also so terribly boring. The author appears to have forgotten that things like this need a proper beat rather than a constant blaring 50hz drone; they need ups and downs rather than downs, further downs, and the occasional Escherine up that just turns out to effectively be a down (or at best, a flat moment). The story as it is now has become a relentless parade of low-grade, low-hanging-fruit awfulness, not unlike working for the postal service.

Two. Two stars. It might have gotten two and a half, but the last story was even more of a let down coming as it did on the heels of the previous one. I'm willing to come back in a few years time and see if the author has managed to salvage his comic, but as of now I would advise new readers to read up to the end of the "Unity" story and then save themselves from a dull and miserable read by putting it aside and waiting for further reviews from anyone still reading the comic, as I intend to from this point forward.


TLDR:
* The comic starts strong, but then begins to fall apart half way through. The issues can be ignored for a while as there's still much to enjoy, but eventually they overwhelm the comic over the 2016-2018 period.
* The author cannot decide what the tone of his comic should be, what it should be about, or even what the main story should be.
* After a while the author develops severe issues with inconsistent characterization, including motives and personalities.
* The author's skillset and talents very obviously favor stories that are tightly-focused character-oriented science fiction adventures; the quality of the narrative suffers and tends to drag the more he tries to go outside that and the more he tries to put the underlying themes of the comic - whatever they might be at the time - in the foreground rather than letting them lurk in the background. This is especially noticeable in recent chapters.


(Please note, there is a reason that I would not give the comic, even at its best, five stars. That reason is called "Aaron Marx". And apart from expressing my dismay at the fact that said character appears to continually being granted an ever greater degree of influence on the story, that's all I'm going to say about that, for fear of this review turning R-rated for language. You'll understand where I'm coming from if you choose to read the comic.)
11:46am 04/11/2013
 
Epic story-telling, that should be nominated for an Eisner.
Endtown has been slowly slogging away as a substantial piece of work that started out above the average crop of webcomics to start with. It's story of survival dipped in a traditional "funny animal" gloss has been gripping. The art has been consistently and precisely tailored to the content, using a well presented traditional clean-line news-paper strip format. It references and frames it's self in similar ways to the adventure serials, and has gone on to surpass them.

Telling the story of post-apocalyptic society with a society of survivors, some mutated into anthropomorphic shape and others not, and under constant siege from the still human but horrifically xenophobic "topsiders". this strip has carefully mixed it's elements of comic relief, action and high drama.

The turning point for the comic has come with the slow wind up the peak of the roller coaster, and now crests over the peak of a roller coaster ahead. Reaching a point where this "funny animal" comic starts raising very fundamental issues about humanity, person-hood and society.

I note that the content comprising the Trial of Maude will be eligible for 2014 Eisner nominations. I urge its submission for consideration.
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