Friday, November 03, 2006

Dirty Deeds

Sluggy Freelance has been running the long-awaited next chapter in the story of Oasis.

And it's definitely good stuff, and a long way away from the slump Sluggy had been going through. We have glimpses into Oasis's past, though the mystery of her origin remains unrevealed. Torg and Riff are doing their best to track that down - and unsurprisingly, their 'best' involves blundering through sewers ineffectually.

I find it a blessing and a curse that anytime I have to go scrounging through Sluggy Archives, I somehow end up rereading That Which Redeems.And, primarily, we get to see what Oasis herself has been up to, having taken up residence in a nice little town where she exterminates crime with an iron fist. A ton of new characters are introduced: her adopted family, her mentor, a variety of townsfolk... and Nash Straw.

Nash is an intrepid reporter out to figure out the town's secrets, despite the fact that everyone in town is doing their best to confound him.

He's a fun character to follow the exploits of, and even though if he gets his story, it won't bode that well for Oasis or the town, watching him work on uncovering the truth leaves us half rooting for him.

Unfortunately he's also a bad guy.

He's a professional bad guy. That means that he's not outright unlikeable, not just cruel for the sake of being cruel - but it also means he'll kill a young girl if the job calls for it.

I'm torn. He's a really well designed character, and its not like half of the cast and crew of Sluggy haven't been villains at one point or another. But I get the feeling it's only a matter of time before he gets taken out - Oasis has survived far, far worse in the past, and has an unfortunate tendency not to leave her enemies alive.

I think a lot of the success of any given storyline in Sluggy comes down to the villains. Pointless and stupid villains just don't work for me. That's why I hated Gofotron - and conversely, some of my favorite storylines - The Bug, the Witch and the Robot, Fire and Rain, That Which Redeems - all have an interesting take on the good guys vs the bad guys.

So I'm really liking what Abrams has done here, even as I'm torn as to what direction I want to see the story go.

Lesson of the day - getting your audience invested in your bad guy before the evil reveal is both very effective, and very, very mean.

2 comments:

Scott Thornton said...

Actually yeah, Sluggy Freelance needed some form of redemption after the dreck that was the Oceans unmoving narrative and I think that coming back to Oasis is one way to do this. Abrams has been teasing us with the Oasis conundrum and finally we're seeing what could be the wrap-up here.

Abram's linework veers between simplistic and highly detailed and in this present storyline he has opted for darker lines and heavier tones. I like the vibe here and A hasn't tackled a serious storyline for some time so at last Sluggy looks like it's getting back on its feet.

Mr Myth said...

Yeah - the biggest problem with Oceans Unmoving was that, well... it wasn't Sluggy. It was a good story with some cool characters, but Sluggy had just come off such a high point, with so many loose plot threads up in the air, than yanking all that away made it really difficult for the readers to get immersed in the story.

And yeah, I have always been impressed by how solid the artwork in Sluggy can suddenly get, given the rather cartoony base of it.