Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wednesday Review: Darths & Droids

I am, unashamedly, a nerd.  However, there are different types of nerds, and different levels.

There are, for example, comic book nerds.  I am not one of them.  Other than the Smokey Bear comic the Forest Service used to hand out (and the newspaper comics, of course), I have never read a comic book.  I don't think I've ever even been in a comic book store.  Nothing against them, or anything - just never felt the draw.

There are also certain 'fandoms' revolving around books, movies, TV shows, etc.  There are Star Wars nerds.  I'm not one of them, either, although I did grow up watching the Star Wars Trilogy, and I have strong opinions about the Abomination (1-3).  That, however, is about it.

I'm also not really a gamer.  Although I came close once a few years ago, I have never played an RPG (that's Role Playing Game, not Rocket Propelled Grenade.  Which I have also never 'played'.)

So imagine my surprise when I got hooked on a web comic... about Star Wars.  And RPGing.  Yeah.

I blame my brother's friend Rabia - her husband did a guest post on her blog all about web comics.  I, in idle curiosity, went and looked at them all.  I spent about a minute looking at each of them before moving on.  Except for one.

Introduction: Darths & Droids is a long-running web comic that turns the Star Wars saga into an adventure dreamed up by a bunch of friends playing a table-top role playing game.  Using real movie stills, The Comic Irregulars add their own captions, managing to both follow the canon and turn it on its head.  Underneath the actual comic is a brief explanation of anything the comics feel might need explanation, along with a text-only transcript.  The comic is updated three times a week and is currently nearing the end of Episode V.

My Review: Well, this thing is strangely addicting.  I first started reading it in Afghanistan, I think, which may have contributed to my enthusiasm for it, but I was just re-reading the first comic and looking at the notes below (which I didn't notice the first time around until later), and before I knew it, I'd read a dozen of them!

Now, I don't know much about web comics in general, so I really can't compare this to anything else out there, but here's what I've noticed about this one that make it a lot of fun:

1) It subverts the characters.  Instead of Qui-Gon Jinn being the calm, wise teacher, he's an impulsive, shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of guy.

2) It subverts the plot.  I really can't say anything about this without giving away major surprises.  Just know that however closely it might seem to be following the films, in the end, they change stuff.  In a way that totally fits.  It's brilliant.  The end of Episode 1?  So awesome.

3) It subverts the things you hate.  That horrible dialogue between Anakin and Padme about sand?  Yeah.  When I got to that comic, I screeched in delight.

4) It subverts the things you love.  In just the right way - with lots of affection for the original.  Episodes 1151-1153.  So great.

5) It explains and exploits role-play gaming patterns.

6) It's consistent within its own canon.  Given the scope of the comic, that's pretty impressive.  I mean, it's more consistent than the actual Star Wars canon (if you include those Prequel-Things).

7) It's extremely creative.  Even the gamers/GM are very much characters of their own!

Start Date: 14 September 2007
Number of Episodes: 1153, as of today
Movies covered: 1-4 and most of 5
Names of episode groups by movie:
   -The Phantasmal Malevolence     (Episodes 1-208)
   -The Silence of the Clones     (Episodes 209-412)
   -Revelation of the Sith     (Episodes 413-671
   -A New Generation     (Episodes 672-919)
   -The Enemy Let Slip     (Episodes 920-?)
   -(Unknown)     (Episodes ?-?)
End Date: ---
Created by: The Comic Irregulars

My Rating: I can't rate this against other web comics, but based solely on my enjoyment of it, we'll go with 5 stars.

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