Vexxar review

Vexxarr is an alien member of the Bleen race, militaristic conquerors of a quarter of the galaxy. He is tasked with conquering planet Earth single handedly, and things do not go as planned in this long running webcomic by Hunter Cressall.

Unfortunately for our would be world conqueror, humans prove a touger nut to crack than expected and he is captured, and then the hijinks begin, as the Earth appropriates his ship’s technology and uses it against the Bleen.

The comic is basically a comedy, a sort of character driven sitcom with an overarching plot involving the efforts of the Bleen empire to punish Vexxar for his failure on Earth. While the individual strips always carry a punchline or at least a comedic beat, the overall narrative is serious enough. Cressall makes a point about changes having consequences, as a contrast to the classic Sci fi “sitcom”, Star Trek. Where Trek would always reset to the status quo after each episode, Vexxar’s adventures always incorporate new and increasingly complex elements into the story.

Vexxar’s artwork shows the usual quality progression in long running webcomics, from crude but serviceable to a polished but simple full colour.

Order of the Stick kickstarter drive raises one million dollars

Rich Burlew’s Order of the Stick webcomic has shattered all solo project records on kickstarter (And certainly all webcomic related ones) with a donation drive to reprint it’s hardcopy volumes that spiraled out of control from a modest 50k original goal to the current shade over a million dollars.

edit: The drive has concluded at a million and a quarter, near enough. Amazing!

Freefall review

Overview

Freefall is a long running (since 1998) strip format hard science fiction webcomic starring an anthropomorphic wolf and a larcenous squid alien spaceship captain

setting

A recently settled colony world (“planet Jean”) with a small human population and millions of sentient robots.

Plot

The squid alien Sam Starfall swindles his way into obtaining a competent engineer to fix his dilapidated spaceship. The engineer in question, Florence, is a biological artificial intelligence, a¬† genetically engineered humanoid wolf created by the famed Dr. Bowman. Bowman’s wolves are prototypes and as such very rare. Florence’s destination was another star system, but Sam’s trickery had her defrosted and left behind by the colony ship she was travelling with.

Characters

Florence: Bowman’s wolf. Engineer. Good dog.

Sam Starfall: Alien kleptomaniac squid, starship captain. Grand Felon.

Helix: Robot. Gentle soul.Sam’s partner in crime.

Sawtooth Rivergrinder. Terraforming Robot. Amateur detective

Qwerty and Dvorak, robot nerds

Self owned and eclectic, Qwerty and Dvorak are exponents of the new breed of fully sentient robots that are coming online as their brain architecture matures

Winston Thurmad. Vet. Florence’s love interest.

Despite his parent’s spacer genes Winston is a confirmed dirtsider, being fully employed in the less glamorous side of the terraforming process, the introduction of parasites to the ecosystem.

Mr Kornada. Middle management. Antagonist. Idiot.

Dumb to the point of self harm, Mr Kornada is nevertheless well adapted to his middle management niche, and is sufficiently cunning in his own way to cause a lot of trouble for those around him.

The mayor. No nonsense politician. Non stupid antagonist.

Edge and Blunt. Overzealous robot recyclers. Semi-antagonists.

Artwork

Freefall’s style is simple, unpretentious. Flat colouring, simple shapes, stereotyped poses and expressions, no unnecessary flourishes getting in the way of the story.

Schedule

Generally updates M-W-F like clockwork. One of the longest running, more reliable strips.

Science fiction comedy

Despite the “soft” look of the artwork, Freefall is probably one of the hardest science fiction comics you’ll ever read, from orbital mechanics to neural architecture, every single concept that is brought to bear is handled with systematic rigour. Despite this, the comic is anything but dry, maintaining a light tone throughout, even while discussing complex issues of philosophy or physics.

Artificial intelligence and 3-laws style robotic safeguards are one of the major themes of the comic, as Florence discovers a conspiracy behind an attempt to control the enormous robot population on the small colony world.

 

Freefall is a highly entertaining¬† read that will make you smile and think at the same time. The long running plot that has been building up for the last few years is coming to a head so it’s a good time to dive into the archives and catch up.