Webcomic of the Week – AGENTS OF THE REALM

wotwcardHey everypeoples, it’s Wednesday and time for another dip into the waters of undiscovered webcomics (I seem to be on a hydrated theme this week…). This week’s discovery comes on the recommendation of the guys over at Geek and Sundry, who posted a few of the webcomics they appreciate yesterday, so I gave one of them a look-see. Quick heads up, this one contains themes that one would consider “mature”, so unless you are sufficiently advanced in your pubescent nature and have an open mind, stop right here and go watch this instead.

For those of you still with us, Agents of the Realm is a mahou shoujo (Magical Girl) themed, coming-of-age comic by Mildred Louis, with a modern western angle. Our protagonist is Norah Tanner, a 20 year old college student who would like nothing more than to keep her head down, stay out of other people’s way, and figure out what she’s going to do with her life (ah, don’t we all…). This plan goes out the window when she finds a mysterious brooch that turns her into a magical warrior known as an Agent, and a lady from another dimension called Jade reveals that she has been chosen to safeguard the very stability of two realities. So, you know, no pressure. Norah is just one of five Agents in her reality, with the other four starting to turn up one by one, and just as well, because Jade’s twin sister Ruby is out hunting for the Agents’ brooches, and mysterious monsters called Bleeds are crossing through the gate between realities…

While the basic premise for AotR is nothing new for a Magical Girl series, it does enough things differently that it makes for a truly unique take on the genre that mature readers can appreciate. For starters, where a cliched MG series might feature teenagers (usually driven by hormones and nothing else), AotR‘s protagonists are college students, who have all the problems and life decisions that come with that life phase, making them more relatable to the twenty-something generation that may have grown out of their high-school angst. They aren’t immediately friendly with each other and there is a certain level of tension between them as they learn to work together, having been thrown into a situation none of them asked for. They are also ethnically diverse (with African-American, Portuguese, English, Spanish and Chinese heritages across the team) without conforming to stereotypes, and while the issue of sexuality is not at the forefront, at least one of the Agents is shown to be attracted to another girl. In short, AotR has realistic characters that are defined by their personalities rather than their race or sexual preference, which is often a trap that writers can fall into when trying to create a diverse team.

Agents of the Realm offers a deeper, more deconstructed look at a genre whose popularity has risen and fallen repeatedly for the past 30 years. The archive dates back to March 2014, so grab some snacks and dive in for a few hours of well-drawn, well-written ladies and their magical weaponry, updating every Thursday and Sunday. Mildred Louis is also on Twitter and Tumblr, and she has a Patreon going with two other projects waiting in the wings, so go show her some love and support, because she deserves it.

That’s all for this week, go check out Agents of the Realm right here, and if you have or know of a webcomic that needs more attention, let me know and I might just be reviewing it down the line.

Ciao for now.

Webcomic of the Week – DEMON HUNTER KAIN

wotwcardHappy Wednesday everybody, if you are the sort of person who holds a special place in your heart for the middle of the week. The true significance of it to me is simply to refer you all to a newly discovered webcomic. Going to slap a warning on you right now: this week’s webcomic contains scenes with violence, gore, disturbing twisted monstrosities and strong language. Mature readers only, folks!

This comic with a disturbingly diverse range of deviance is Demon Hunter Kain, by Burrell Gill Jr. It follows the story of two characters: Zandalee, a high school student plagued by terrifying hallucinations despite her medication, and the titular Kain, a boy with a tragic past and the power to battle demonic invaders. Match made in heaven, right? The scene is set with Zandalee attending her first real day of school in four years, having spent the intervening time hospitalised and medicated for her schizophrenic visions. It isn’t long before she starts seeing things lurking around her school, and her less-than-subtle reactions to them immediately brand her as weird and disturbed. But when the supposed hallucinations start attacking her, only the intervention of Kain saves Zandalee’s life, and helps her understand that she isn’t insane.

The first thing I really want to praise regarding Demon Hunter Kain is the artwork. For a story as dark as this, one could easily have done it as a stark, dramatic, tonal piece with plenty of shadows. On the contrary, the pages are fully coloured in a western-manga style, allowing the reader to see every horrific detail of the gruesome abominations that Kain fights, and the intense emotion on the characters’ faces. Gill Jr. has a flair for the monstrous, and while the demons never reach a Clive Barker level of horrific, they will easily make your face crumple in disgust. The human characters are equally well designed, everyone has a distinct look that is recognisable at a glance. The two leads both have tragic backstories that feed into their current lives; Kain’s guilt over past mistakes and his relative inexperience with demon hunting make him driven to prove himself to his superiors, while Zandalee seeks to learn more about why she is able to see things no-one else can and, for the first time in her life, have a real friend.

Demon Hunter Kain was initially a title I found on a list of webcomics that I thought sounded just corny enough to be good, and I was right, albeit for the wrong reasons. What I thought would be an over-the-top, angsty drama turned out to be an intense, character-driven urban fantasy that I am thoroughly enjoying. The comic updates on Mondays and has archives dating back to 2011, so set aside a few hours and prepare your stomach; it’s a wild ride.

That’s all for this week, go check out Demon Hunter Kain right here, and if you can recommend any webcomics for me to binge and review, let me know in the comments.

Ciao for now.