Creator/s: "Adamska," "Maniac"
Run: 8/09-current
Schedule: Saturdays
Section/s: Ch. 3, pp. 13-32 & "Never Again"

The latest page is just an April Fool's joke, so don't get the impression that Villain's some awful animu comic and flip the table.

Website: The website looks excellent, conveying the dark, worn-down look of a secret villain headquarters. A lot of Smack Jeeves comics look super-generic, so it's nice to see a comic that doesn't just use a popular template as-is.

The site has a ton of really cool extras, including a "Making Of" feature, a music playlist, skins for Minecraft, and, best of all, audio commentary from the creators. There's also some information about the comic and the creators, as well as nice-looking cast page.

One tip: I find filler pages to be distracting while reading through a comic's archives. I think they're better off being placed in the comic's "extras" section.

Writing: Villain promotes itself as a "chance to see what goes on for the other team," and while it isn't the first webcomic to have villains as protagonists, it's still a fairly novel and unusual concept.

So, what makes villains so interesting? For starters, there's something inherently cool and badass about their selfishness and power over others. A villain generally has significant physical or mental abilities (or both), and stories often go to great lengths to emphasize how impressive and terrifying the villain is, and how grim the fate of the heroes will be if the villain succeeds. They have an intimidating and unusual appearance, sometimes being a monster or demon, or being capable of transforming into one. Villains also have an aspect of unpredictability, in that their lack of morality and loyalty leads them to switch sides, backstab, or have a change of heart at a moment's notice. And since a story's usually told from the good guys' point of view, the villain's mysterious and perhaps rarely seen, often preferring to send henchmen or pulling strings behind the scenes rather than getting involved directly. Villains often clash with authority and order, which is always a cool thing. Lastly, as a result of their power and hedonism, the villains get to have the most fun (at least until they get the asses kicked at the end of the story, anyways).

Back to Villain. The villains in Villain don't really act like villains. In fact, they're nice. Like, really nice. And even when there's conflict between the villains, they're still really nice to each other. The creators offer the question, "Who's the true hero and who's the true villain?, and clearly their intention is to suggest that "villains are people, too." And while moral ambiguity's great 'n' all, there's a big, gaping hole in this comic where all that "awesome villain stuff" I explained above is supposed to be. Writing the villains as really nice roommates just to show that "villains are people, too," is probably one of the lamest and most boring story ideas the creators could've come up with. I mean, sure, villains will often team up to accomplish a mutual goal, but it doesn't mean they stop being the selfish, destructive jerks we all know and love. And there's always room for a dramatic moment of moral ambiguity at some point in the story. This comic has a ton of potential to be an engaging villain-centric story, so it's particularly disappointing that the creators took such a bland and uninspired route with it.

Art: The art's colorful and attractive, but too often the creators choose to portray the characters in a overly minimalistic way, which makes the artwork seem vague and inconsistent. The comic has about four distinct levels of detail it switches between, the lowest level having simple faces and cartoonish anatomy, and the highest level being fairly realistic. Simplistic renderings are necessary sometimes, like when there's a crowd, or when the "camera" is far away from the character, but Villain does them all the time, even declining to give the main characters faces at times. Ideally, the comic should stick with one particular level of detail, only deviating from it on occasion. Something like the bottom-right panel here, which is between the highest and second-highest levels of detail, is what I suggest the creators consider as their standard.

Aside from that, the character designs are all fairly creative, and the villains certainly look villainous. They also each have their own dominant color (e.g., Bob is purple, Buzz is green, Killswitch is red), which helps makes them stand out from one another, as well as helping give some variety to the pages. The creators also do a decent job of varying perspectives to make the dialogue-heavy scenes more visually interesting, although I feel like they overuse the birds-eye view a bit, like they ran outta ways to creatively shown the scene.

Lastly, the different-colored borders on the speech bubbles is a nice touch.

Overall: The creators of Villain seem to be struggling with their concept, as while the idea of having villains as protagonists is pretty cool and clever, the execution of that idea is really lacking, and the comic isn't stylish or interesting enough to make readers wanna keep coming back to it. The nine-page "Never Again" section is a radical departure from the comic's main style and is very poorly done, further suggesting a sort-of "flailing about" approach by the creators, awkwardly trying to figure out a way for their neat concept to work. The creator might wanna try rethinking their project from the ground up, and remind themselves what it was that attracted them to doing a villain-based comic in the first place.


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