The Belfry WebComics Index


CID:17216 Subscriptions:101Readers this Week:3
Genres:Action-Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Romance, Transformation
Description*:A waitress at a rural inn rescues an injured man and becomes involved in a complex struggle for dominance between an ancient spirit and the civilization of the Archipelago. Shapeshifting, possession, lies and heroism, battles and brawls, meeting up once again with the slave-taking pirate who ruined her childhood, H. L. Devera's work is one that will attract readers by both great storytelling and steadily improving art.

(Smackjeeves site no longer exists. Abandoned and incomplete, the old website; the whole comic should also be available in printed format.)

* Descriptions are user submitted and might not express the views of the admins of this site, or of the comics creators themselves.
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Entry Added:Fri, Feb 19, 2010
Entry Modified:Tue, Jul 4, 2023

Reviews: 1   Average Rating:

04:02am 04/26/2011
Archipelago: An Unforgettable Adventure
I am rewriting my review for this comic. The one I did earlier was almost pure cliched hype that probably did the comic more harm then good. I believe that my writing skills have improved, and I will now attempt to give a more thoughtful and contemplative interpretation on why the webcomic Archipelago is so awesome.

To be entirely honest, when I started reading, the comic didn't impress me. The art in some of the beginning pages seems scribbled (oddly, the art decreases in quality on page 21). And then, there's the introduction to the plot: a man wakes up in an unfamiliar location with no memory. I have seen this done so many times, I am sick of it. I almost stopped reading right there.

I am so glad I didn't.

This is one of the few examples of amnesia as a plot device that I actually think was done right. In most stories, you have to trudge through the entire plot as the character puts together pieces of his identity, learning who he was, how he lost his memory, what groups he was part of, what side he's on, etc. In Archipelago, however, you learn who the man is before the end of the first chapter. Some of his past remains a mystery, but since his mind is broken, he's adopted a child-like personality, so his past is left alone, and he starts life anew. (there's something else the comic does right: Too many shows have amnesia be easily recoverable or else side effect free. Real amnesia would likely come complete with a side of brain damage. )

As for the art I mentioned earlier, it is compensated for by very well-written dialogue. The page where the art quality suddenly drops contains a good joke about eggs. The drama of some scenes draws the eye away from sketchy art. Later, when the art improves (which it does surprisingly quickly), the comic contains scenes with no dialogue to distract from the impressive art. By Book 6, the art is nothing short of Awesome.

Then, the plot and characters. The plot is a rather tried-and-true one: there's a sealed away evil attempting to escape and release doomsday, and the heroes need to collect the six Mac Guffins before the bad guy. Nothing we haven't seen before, but that doesn't mean its a bad plot, and the author pulls it together quite nicely. And the characters: colorful, believable, and well-written. Blitz, the child-minded broken-minded man is a goldmine for humor, and serves as a nice balance to the drama in some scenes. (I've probably been painting this comic as mostly humorous, and it is, but it also contains dramatic scenes dealing with some rather dark topics. However, serious issues are dealt with well, and the comic has many more lighthearted moments than dark ones)

And speaking of characters, I would be remiss not to mention Captain Snow, who is possibly one of the most well-written villains I have ever read. He's evil- incredibly so, especially when you consider that this is a kid-friendly comic. And yet, he's likable. He raids and burns an entire village, and then intervenes to save a tea shop. He's the kind of sadistic ne'er-do-well that you love to hate, and yet you like him, even though it;s clear you shouldn't. I can't do him justice in the space of a review that is too long as it is.

Considering that this is a review that is too long and I don't want to spoil the work itself, I won't talk about the strange and wonderful constructed world, the seamless mixture of magic and technology, and the fresh way the comic handles the touchy topic of racism. I will merely conclude that any fan of fantasy will very much enjoy reading Archipelago, even with the whole family. So that's all. Enjoy Archipelago, and good night.
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