Creator/s: "Tex," "Deadlocked"
Run: 11/11-current
Schedule: Random
Section/s: Ch. 2, "Unstoppable Power"

Website: The edgy, red-and-black look of the site's a little different from the usual Smack Jeeves fare, although it doesn't seem to suit the cutesy, colorful style of the webcomic that well.

I like that there's a character page, although it'd be better if the images were much larger and the descriptions weren't just walls of text. The black headers are also very difficult to read against the dark-gray background. Also, Dacer looks nothing like he does in the actual comic, which is kinda weird, and it doesn't make sense for the images to link to ImageShack.

The update schedule is very irregular, which seems particularly odd to me for a comic that's made up of copy-pasted sprites. The creators should try to consistently update at least once a week.

Lastly, the creators link to a "review comic" several times on the site, which I wanted to look at, but the link just brings up a "This profile does not exist or is currently unavailable" error message.

Writing: The main writer has a dismissive attitude towards his webcomic's irrelevant, copy-pasted artwork, explaining, "I do this for storywriting over illustration." He seems to be inferring that this is an acceptable way for a skilled writer to convey their story without having to invest the significant amount of time and effort it takes to make a comic visually interesting. But whether or not this is accurate, this creator's writing ability's actually well below average, which, combined with the deliberately terrible artwork, leaves me to describe Against as an embarrassing disaster.

The main factor that makes the writing so unimpressive is the pacing, which seems to be a common problem area for inexperienced writers. Against has a dire tendency of cramming the story into 12, 13, 14, or even as much as 15 panels in each regular-sized page, which is absurd. There's so much text on some of the pages that the comic often feels like some sort of bogus fantasy novel with all of the content omitted except for the dialogue. I similarly criticized Without Moonlight for having too much dialogue, but at least that webcomic has fewer panels, and its pages are about 30% wider and 50% taller than Against's. A reasonable start would be to cut the panel count down by at least 50%.

The other big pacing issue's that the story's too committed to the main plot line and doesn't provide for any interesting or entertaining elements, such as character development, humor, or drama. This is most noticeable in the way the comic awkwardly jumps around from scene to scene, like in page 28, page 30, and in pages 37 and 38. All of the comic's scenes seem rushed, like the creators are trying to reach the chapter's conclusion as quickly as possible, and the motley crew that makes up the cast of characters is hastily presented to the audience without elaborating on their personalities or providing reasons to care about what happens to them. Of the 10 or so characters appearing in these 15 pages, I didn't discern any information about any of them other than that Seiner and Zelrian are both very powerful. The creators might be more comfortable working with a reduced cast size and actually giving the readers a chance to get the know the characters a little bit. It's also very underwhelming how the big fight scene between Seiner and Zelrian gets really built up over several pages, and then it's over in one kick. I get that the brevity of the fight's intended to show how overwhelmingly capable Zelrian is, but this approach completely fails on a dramatic level.

Art: The chapter starts off on the wrong foot by presenting a terribly composed cover that shows the visual representation of "unstoppable power" as a three-inch toy inside a glowing hamster ball. It sorta reminds me of that scene in This Is Spinal Tap where the band embarrassingly ends up with a wimpy 30-inch-tall prop instead of the impressive 30-foot-tall one they intended. A cover like this should be cool and exciting, and it definitely isn't.

The characters are blatantly copy-pasted frequently, alternating between a few stock poses, which means that the artwork can be completely ignored most of the time. The creators at least alter the characters' eyes so that the panels aren't completely the same, but even these minor alterations often look rushed and clumsy, like in the 11th panel here. Apparently all of the sprites are derivative aside from Dacer's, but this one original sprite's incompetently made and looks awkwardly out-of-place amongst the other characters. Also, the backgrounds also endlessly copy-pasted graphics from video games, and they quickly become very monotonous, especially when the creators reduce the resolution a lot, like they do in this page.

Overall: Against does nothing to improve my impression of sprite comics as lazy and juvenile, which is largely why I haven't bothered to review any 'til now. The creators don't display any notable aptitude for comic-making, and they need to improve their abilities significantly if they seriously intend to create a decent webcomic at some point. Ideally, Against will be a chapter of their humble beginnings and something they'll be able to laugh about later on, and I suggest they focus on making progress and not get too hung up on their current failures.


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