|Original review author:||webkilla in Juli 2021|
|Forum Discussion Threads:|
|Start Date:||January 19, 2009|
|Genre:||Furry with humans, science fiction, horror, post-apocalypse|
|Defining Flaw:||The inability to stick to a consistent tone and overarching story arc, while constantly killing off members of the main cast and swapping out with new ones you never learn to care for.|
Once more webkilla, the community's resident furry and brony degenerate, ended up talking with other furries on another forum about webcomics that not even they like. This one came up, with several really good arguments from them to boot!
The near constant switching of main characters, focus, theme and tone was there almost from the getgo. Is this is a comic about post-apocalyptic survival? Is it about the slice of life trials and trivulations of living in an underground city with limited resources? Is it about mutant underdogs fighting a technologically superior foe that wants to exterminate them? Is it about strange not-doctor-who bullshitery? Is it that they're all humans mutated into comic book characters? Are they simply living toothbrushes?
The downfall of this comic is that it can't seem to pick to a single fucking story and theme and then stick to it. For a comic named Endtown, it just keeps finding new excuses for just one more story arc... even though the dead horse has been beaten into a fine red mist at this point.
Story & Plot
Discussing the story and writing can't really be separated here - since its the crux of the problem for the comic.
Ok, consider the following storylines, which are presented in chronological order as they appear in the comic. Most of the text for the first three arcs is copied from the Wikifur article on the comic because then I don't have to reread the whole damn archive.
A Fistful of Beans
This is our introduction to the universe of "Endtown". Al and a partner are topside raiding a ruined store for supplies when the partner attempts to join the Topsider ranks, with fatal results. Al returns to Endtown by himself and must face the wrath of the mob for bringing back more beans because that is hilariously the only food that appears to be left in this post-apoc setting. His friend Prof. Mallard has to step in to sell the Endtowners on the benefits of the hated legume. Basically, the first arc is about how tough and shitty the post-apoc setting is, and how everyone just has canned beans left to eat - and it is strangely silly compared to how the rest of the comic turns out. Considering the MASSIVE tonal shifts in just the next arc, it makes this reviewer wonder why this arc wasn't either re-written to match the rest of the comic, or removed entirely - perhaps put on a separate archive page as a "This was my original attempt at telling this story, but it turned out too silly, so now its non-canon".
Gustine suffers from the fear that she will turn feral as a rampaging 700-pound rhino, her being a rhino "anthro" as they're called in the comic, and asks an oracle for advice. This results in her and her partner, Al, traveling to the ruins of Hillside City to obtain the fruit of a tree that can solve her problems. After that, they befriend Petey the Truck AI and run afoul of the pixel creatures (AKA: Dittos) that have been tormenting Sparkplug Sanders, a deranged madman who appears immune to the deathray "zipguns" the topsiders use to turn everyone to dust. The ditto nano-machines become a bit of a deus-ex-machina later in the comic. But ok, this is pretty similar to the first storyline. While fighting Sparkplug, Al needs to rescue Gustine and is killed in the process. Gustine then uses the fruit to save Al, and thus is satisfied in staying as she is. On the way back to Endtown, Gustine, Al and Petey are attacked by Topsiders. Petey is left behind, and Al and Gustine are set up to look like spies leading the Topsiders to Endtown. This leads to an investigation by Capt. Flask intended to find the two as traitors and have them executed. However, a second trip to the surface reunites Flask and Petey with the revelation that the two used to be partners before Petey's brain was removed and implanted as an organic AI to control a topsider truck. The arc ends with Petey getting a new robot body he's in control of himself, Al and Gustine being declared innocent, and Flask brooding on her sins. So this arc expands on the previous arc's concepts, introducing issues with paranoia and internal strife in the underground "endtown" community, including the trigger-happy rat security.
The Ballad of Holly and Wally
Wally is a rambling man-cat satisfied with fending for himself in the wastes of Topside. An encounter with Topsiders changes his life and ultimately he is forced to enter Endtown, where he is jumped by two inhabitants hoping to steal any fresh food that he may be carrying. Left with a cerebral contusion, Wally is brought to a hospital by Holly, a mouse waitress who is the only one in Endtown willing to stand by his side. Wally is conflicted about being a human trapped in a cat body and Holly attempts to help him come to terms with his instincts. They find themselves attracted to each other at the end. More internal strife themes, and similar to the previous arc, then the issue of the people coming to terms with their new bodies giving them strange new instincts and impulses is a central theme.
The Topsiders build a rocket near Endtown to launch a spy satellite. Knowing that an "eye in the sky" would spell certain doom for the Endtowners, Security Chief Flask assembles a small suicide squad consisting of herself, her ex-lover now-robot Petey and the wildcard Wally, to sabotage the rocket. Now, these jokers do not necesarilly get along well, but they still manage to mostly survive.
However, things get complicated when the comic introduces a flying ship. A flying ship, that seems to be a wood-hull ship with a hot-air balloon looking thing keeping it in the air, but it also appears to be larger on the inside, on which strange signs appear that lead the suicide squad to a strange man in a long coat.
Basically, this comic went from post-apoc survival to copying Dr. Who. It's not Dr. Who fanfiction, but its pretty damn clear where the cartoonist took his notes from. The not-doctor is certainly infuriatingly quirky enough and apparently he doesn't need to sleep. Much more on this chucklefuck in the writing section.
What's worse is that not-doctor can't stop being a chucklefuck while everyone else are having much more setting-appropriate mental breakdowns. When finally asked to actually help he even says no, that he's just doing shit for the lulz.
This arc was back in 2012. Lets just say it was a massive tonal break from how the comic usually worked. Whacky and silly doesn't mesh very well with grim post-apoc horror and violence.
But to bring shit back to post-apoc grimdark Flask ends up hijacking the flying ship to crash it into the Topsider satelite launch facility. Because she's suicidal Flask thinks she has nothing left to lose, but the others want to live... so we're back to the usual drama. Shit blows up, not-doctor inhales a missile because we gotta get that last kick in the teeth worth of shark-jumping, and we all end up back in endtown.
..and then not-doctor who fucks off to some other dimension where he interrogates the mind-ghost of Flask as if that makes sense. We do get a little bit of interesting information on how topsiders see themselves, but honestly its not all interesting and mostly seems like as if the cartoonist was going off on a plot-tangent, as if the cartoonist realized that killing off Flask was kinda stupid and needed to write her a "proper" if not very strange send-off.
Now, as fucked up as that story arc was, then it was rather emblematic of how pretty much everything all future plots would run: The post-apoc themes would remain, if not in the foreground then in the background, while occasionally some really weird shit would take absolute front and center. These strange thematic and tonal shifts is why this comic is on the wiki.
This is highlighted extremely in the next arc, which is about an anthro-morphed topsider koala-woman who got "rescued" during the previous arc and brought back to Endtown, who is having a mental breakdown from having turned into a mutant freak, having been forced to leave her friends and family, all that jazz. Holly, the mouse lady from the previous arc, tries to help her and these comics deal heavily with the challenges of coping and surviving in an underground city. This kind of shit is spot on and makes for amazing reading. There's no not-doctor who bullshit, just harsh but comical character interactions and tears.
The Cheese arc
The arc with Linda learning to deal with her new life leads into the Cheese Arc. You see, this comic doesn't just treat the anthro characters are humans with furry appearances. It treats them as humans with entirely new sets of animal anatomy, instincts and urges. The chicken-people lay eggs, the cow-people can be milked. This arc deals with the apparently massive social taboo of consuming mutant produce.
It's actually quite interesting - because its established earlier in the comic that the wasteland up top has been picked clean by scavengers long ago, leaving Endtown with only a seemingly endless supply of canned beans. (never mind that them having electricity, light and running water should mean that they could do a lot of hydroponics, but this comic doesn't dwell much on things that could improve situations)
Anywho - Linda's cow Maude friend specifically states I have to be what I am - a line that will get eerily relevant later in the comic. You see, its apparently illegal to eat mutant produce, even if its your own damn milk.
It all hinges on the idea that a lot of the Endtown mutants are clinging to their humanity, rejecting the animal parts of themselves. Indeed, there is a Society for the Preservation of Human Values and it turns out that one of Linda's co-workers is part of it, and she was the one who snitched on Linda to the authorities. Turns out that the head of the organization, one Mister Allgood wants to criminalize the consumption of mutant produce, while the waitress had just hoped for some social ostracization. In his words, its for the greater good.
Drama like this almost makes the comic good enough to not warrant being on the wiki. Also, a bear-anthro is seen with a worm-anthro trying to convince a fish-anthro to "play fishing". No really
This drama reveals the political infrastructure of Endtown. While it does have a mayor, then their true leadership is a "high council" made up of anonymously and randomly selected citizens who are kept in a secret council pod for a month at a time, then swapped out at random. They don't know who the other high councilors are, nobody knows who any of them are... and if you don't think a system like that is ripe for exploitation, then you haven't been reading this comic or this review properly. The high council certainly doesn't seem to care about the milk and eggs issue.
They claim to be a democracy - but its basically just an anonymous military junta, considering the stranglehold on power and authority that endtown security has, and the high council somehow (its never explained how) has complete control of Security. Indeed, its revealed that one of the people in a council pod is quite upset and has figured out that the system is rigged. That's when the press gets involved. Once that happens the society for preservation of human values experiences a membership drop.
Now, to defend the three ladies charged with the "crime" of consuming mutant eggs and milk, the editor of the Endtown Examiner Jacob Jackrabbit steps up, championing the cause of embracing one's new animal self and fully legalizing the consumption of mutant produce. The society of preserving human values also starts seeing violent opposition. The trial itself reeks of conservative bullshit VS progressive liberty, with Allgood trying to shame the accused women, while Jackrabbit talks about personal freedom.
Meanwhile a bar brawl that security tries to break up turns into a massacre. This shakes even the head of security, but the anonymous voice of the high council tells him to just keep calm and carry on... all the while Endtown proper falls under mob rule. It also turns out that Endtown's own police have been hoodwinked by security, them having taken all the calls. Security was meant to be Endtown's army to defend against topsiders, not to police the civilians.
The trial then continues, but it seems that the 'jury' - the high council - doesn't care that the best case was by Jackrabbit, the council ordering that the women be killed, to which Allgood drops all pretenses and cries out that that wasn't part of the deal, steals a gun from a security rat and storms off. it turns out that there's nobody in the council pods. Turns out that it was all a setup by jackrabbit to take power by getting the high council system abolished. This works right up until security decides to take over, of course... that's when we get a DEUS EX AARON to suddenly up-end the plot and save the fucking day! I guess Aaron wrote himself into a corner and needed a quick way to wrap things up.
Oh this story arc was so good right up until that point.
Anywho, it then also turns out that Jackrabbit has beef with the few people in Endtown who are immune to the mutant virus. Basically, the few people who still look human but didn't join the topsiders (topsiders kill the immune just like anthros, they're still carrying the virus). Basically Jackrabbit goes full hitler and starts to purge shit, but that arc comes later. The arc ends with Wally and the mouse woman leaving endtown.
The Lizard Arc
Next arc starts with the duo out in the wasteland, arriving at a ruined city and finding two topsiders who want to be mutated into anthros. Why? Because apparently anthros heal really well. These two topsiders, one of them had terminal cancer, you do the math. The four of them, all mutants now, run off and end up getting captured by lizard mutants out in the wastes. Now, this colony seems to be made up almost entirely of reptilian supremacist mutants, so they do not treat the others very nice, except for one of the two newly mutated topsiders who turned into a reptile anthro.
This makes for interesting drama, as the others are treated like pests or slaves with no rights. Oh and Wally is on a reptile cook's shitlist, so you know its going get violent. Meanwhile Sarah the reptile is tempted to stay, showing her the ugly past of the purge that led the colony to be reptile dominated. We also learn that mutants that hatch from their eggs might turn out to not be reptiles. They eat those eggs to remain 'pure'. She's not convinced, pointing out the flaws of the system. This doesn't mean that she wont stay though.
The others are... let go. Sort of. Wally is still in prison, and the others escape and realize that the lizards eat their own eggs. Turns out that he's the son of the two leaders of the colony. Oh and Wally? He's set up for a boxing match. Do remember that as a cat-anthro he's a third the size of the lizard mutants. Also the racoon-mutant discovers that his lizard-wife is cheating on him. He doesn't respond well to this, and thus we're introduced to schism syndrome, the name given to the kind of madness you would expect if you've turned into a little furry critter when moments earlier you were a human.
I'll give props to Aaron - he visualizes the descent into madness quite well. With a mad racoon in the walls, the lizards want to gas him. Oh, and Holly and the chicken were also hiding in the walls. Come the fight, Wally thinks they're dead. With the loss of the love of his life he's ready to just die, while Chic's mother takes the news that daddy gassed the walls poorly. Oh and it turns out that the mad racoon survived and is still on a rampage, setting fire to everything. Wally, Holly, Chic and another lizard woman escape, but get caught by Sarah who now seems to be in charge of what remains of the colony, who want to kill them. They escape, of course, leaving the lizards to be destroyed by topsider drones attracted by the smoke.
This leads directly into the next arc where things get weird. The new group finds a cargo ship sticking out of the ground, explore it, and suddenly start finding food waiting for them. What? Apparently illusions abound. Oh and lizard woman and Wally appear to be falling in love, which works out, sort of, because Holly has been going crazy as of late.
They find out that illusions appear to center on Holly, her trying to recreate life before the WW3 that ended everything and mutated the survivors. While this is really weird, then it does give us some background to how society worked before the fall - with Holly being given buddi-bombs for her baby shower. Yes, a collection of a dozen robotic self-deploying explosives for home defense. Hi Mister Chekov, is that your gun? Oh and Holly human husband does not approve.
Then things go to hell - people start mutating, and of course Holly brought buddi-bombs. Things blow up, the pregnant Holly mutates into a mouse and gives birth to a dead child in the form of a fish. The husband doesn't respond well and starts to mutate, but in the bad way: He turns into a monster and shit blows up, because bombs. Here we see the suited-up "disease control" people introduced. We know them as topsiders. The local police doesn't want to let them fuck shit up with napalm rifles, and the shooting starts.
This shows mutants taking shelter underground to get away from the autonomous kill-drones that patrol the surface to destroy mutants and monsters. The purge that follows is comically violent. And of course, nuking the US results in retaliatory strikes, and thus the world ended.
Ultimately seeing all this again pissed Wally off enough to finally properly recall the nano-tech Dittos which was what was making the solid illusions they were trapped in. Oh and suddenly we're back on the flying ship for some wacky reason. It apparently runs on feels and used the dittos to probe the minds of random people in the waste, dig up their greatest horrors and make them re-live them, so the ship could refuel. Now how is that for fucked up excuse for a flashback?
Turns out that among the multiverses then all other earths are dead - this one is the only one alive. This is also where we're told for the first time that THERE IS NO MUTAGENIC VIRUS. This might be an interesting plot twist, if not for the comic's own damn About page telling us that there is a mutagenic virus. So which is it? Unreliable narrator? False information from the trans-dimensional AI? Piss poor writing? All three? Why, yes it actually is. Of course, the ship AI doesn't know what it that's causing people to change because actually explaining the plot would mean shit wouldn't suck so much.
Now, Wally rescues the lizard woman and chic, and then they find Holly trapped in her own nightmare, being hunted by her husband-turned-monster. Except... that wasn't the real holly they found. She's still in the ship, having chosen to live a lie inside an illusion where she can pretend nothing bad ever happened.
That shit made this reviewer all teary eyed... well, it would have, except we just have several preceding pages of an intra-dimensional ship AI talking emotion-batteries and that there is no mutation-virus, which goes against everything we've seen so far in the comic, while giving no answers. See how this wannabe doctor who shit completely destroys one's immersion into an otherwise heartbreaking story? The arc is wrapped up by Wally and Kirbee the lizard woman confessing their feelings for each other, the last panel showing them holding hands. Aww, so tender. Let's shit that up shall we? Because the next fucking page shows our not-doctor who Aaron Marx showing the story of Wally and Kirbee on a TV to a mix of human and mutant children in Endtown.
Fuck you cartoonist and your self-insert, fuck you in the ass with a chili-oiled up chainsaw. You just can't fucking help shitting up your own story with your moronic self-insert, when you would otherwise have some really good tear-jerking love and horror stories. This, THIS, is why this comic is on the wiki!
On the plus side, this does result in Holly's father back in Endtown calling Aaron on his BS and demanding he bring his daughter back, but suddenly Aaron claims he can't. Or wont. Because who the fuck cares about consistent writing here? One day Aaron is godlike and swallows an exploding missile, next day he can't teleport off to fetch a mouse anthro. Fuck this shit writing!
But ok, new arc time!
The Meat Arc
So, Endtown got some new leadership last time we saw it. Lets see how that has worked out, now that Jackrabbit wants people to embrace their inner animal? Well, we start out with a depressed pig woman getting mysterious phone calls. Next we learn from a journalist interviewing two guys in a prison cell that Endtown has a predator panic going on. We're also introduced to a very punchable pig lawyer, not the same pig woman who was phoned earlier.
The pig from earlier is later found dehydrated and suffering malnutrition. Can you piece together what's going on?
It's simple: The predator-people of Endtown are making the prey-people of Endtown give themselves up to be food. Some pigs try to slim down to avoid being targeted, while we're told others are fattening themselves up for some mad reason. The former mayor and Holly father, the only doctor left, seem aware of this but can't find who's setting it all up. The police find a vial of chloroform, and suspect that the victims are being hauled off to the slaughter while still alive!
Now, the ex-mayor returns to Portia, the phonecalled pig woman, because apparently she's refusing to eat. He threatens to spoon-feed her. This turns out to be her fetish. I fucking wish I was kidding. Oh well, I guess love can bloom on the battlefield. Meanwhile, tensions escalate as others accuse the pigs of eating too much, because apparently now Endtown also has a food crisis.
...really? I thought that Jackrabbit permitted things like egg and milk to be eaten? Consistent writing plz.
Anywho, now the ex-mayor and portia are sleeping together, he manages to intercept one of the phone calls. Shit is creepy - whoever it is, they're trying to gaslight and pressure portia into giving herself up for slaughter. And the rest of the city just gets worse, with riots and other fun things.
Meanwhile, we finally see Jackrabbit being quite unhappy about things - not that the press seems to be strangely pro-predator biased, but that the press keeps publishing stories about a food shortage. Thing is, they have a six year stockpile, so why is the press lying? Turns out the editor is into some shady shit, trying to get jackrabbit removed.
This is when butchered pig remains start turning up in the water supply. With this grim discovery, the trial against a horse woman who had been stalked by wolf-people and ended up killing one in self-defense goes from hopeless to slam-dunk acquittal, with her lawyer appearing quite depressed at the grim news. He had thought his case had been simple, now its most certainly not.
Hilariously, a journalist who had been fired from the Examiner starts her own newspaper. Mind you, she was fired for being too pro-wolf biased. She comes off as a well-meaning SJW, thinking that all this talk of wolves eating people is pure lies and wants to make an "anti-prejudice newspaper" - while the Examiner's editor stops working with the shady guy because he finally realizes that the food shortage stories are likely linked to the pig cannibalism. We also see that the shady guy is in cahoots with a certain puma. Now, this puma lady was seen earlier in the comic as a kind of high society liaison to the high council. She was in on Jackrabbit's scheme to take down the high council, and ostensibly still works for him. Over at the medical examiner, they find that the pig bones recovered show signs of not just wolves gnawing on the bones, but many other species!.
Basically it seems that a lot of factions are springing up in Endtown. The new newspaper, the people pushing the food shortage story, the ones behind the pig eating - the real question is how things are connected, if at all. And of course the SJW editor of the new newspaper gets called as a witness to the trial, leaving the paper in the hands of her even more extremist acolytes. Wanna guess how that goes?
The trial itself is almost as hilarious as the last big trial in the comic. That pig lawyer we saw earlier tries to present the horse woman as a murderous bigot, but considering all the pig remains found recently nobody is buying that. The jury finds her not guilty and also tells the prosecuting lawyer that she's a huge bitch. This of course starts a bit of a wolf riot, with the editor of the new paper finding that her acolytes used the paper to incite the riot with wolf supremacist agitprop.
Meanwhile, jackrabbit is seeing things, and sends in the rat security force to secure the city. And still more pigs get lured to their death, with the horse-woman's wolf lawyer getting lynched. The horse woman ends up committing suicide, the wolf riot parading her corpse around. Later, the SJW editor and her extremist assistant-editor are arrested and interrogated by jackrabbit - and as he reads the racist supremacist propaganda from "The Daily Fang" to them, the SJW editor freaks out accordingly. He exonerates the editor, and toys with the revolutionary moron, ultimately killing him in self defense when the chump tries to kill/eat jackrabbit. After this the pig-killers seem to be cleaning house, framing the Examiner's editor for pig murder, and burning down their secret smoke-house, and the Examiner is split on how to cover the story. With the city up in arms now that someone to pin the murders on has been found, even though Jackrabbit knows its a setup, jackrabbit confronts the editors up in the food stores. The editor comes clean about the fake news on food shortages. Jackrabbit wants to exile the editor, but head of security pops up and orders the editor hung for sedition despite jackrabbit's protests. The head of security 'reminds' jackrabbit that security doesn't really answer to him, only cooperate - and that at worst security could go full military junta.
To sort of wrap things up the puma we saw earlier sells out her last co-conspirator, delivering a fellow feline to Jackrabbit for some rather brutal interrogation. Here Jacob finds that the client and co-conspirator list is very very long. Jackrabbit sends the puma off to assassinate the butcher they identified from the client list. This goes south, but our phone-pig is saved and the real butcher is revealed. It's also revealed that the evil pig lawyer was in on it. The ex mayor goes after her, he ends up dead. That's it for this - arc. No Deus ex Aaron Marx to save the day, just a lot of dead people.
Now, because there was no Aaron Marx in the previous arc, we of course start this arc with him because cancer sprouts up where you least want it. And in this acid trip wally turns into a cookie because the cartoonist apparently can't stop taking the occational hit of LSD when writing this comic. But it was all a dream! lol, so randumb! You would never have guessed, right? Anywho, Wally, Kirbee and Chic are living peacefully in another mutant colony called eden. Any takers on how soon this place turns to shit? Well, first sign of trouble is some bully picking on chic. While that's happening Wally is working as a miner, digging out new infrastructure for the colony. While doing this he figures out how to make the ditto's excavate. This means five month digs can be finished in minutes. This of course makes some of the miners happy, while others freak out and report him. And chic picks a fight with the bully. This seems to earn him some respect, so the bully tells chic of how the colony is haunted. Wally gets reassigned to laundry because he freaked people out with the dittos (can't have things getting too nice in the comic...) while chic gets dared by Duffy the bully to go ghost-hunting, and the dittos start cleaning laundry for Wally. On the plus side, Wally's supervisor is very much ok with this as opposed to reporting him for it.
That night chic is out ghosthunting with duffy and his gang. This goes badly as a ghost nabs him - but the gang marks the ghost with paint and tries to attack it. Chic then points out that with the paint he saw that the ghost was a topsider. They do get caught on the way back, with the expected drama to follow.
Then we learn that wally can't remember ever arriving at Eden. Luckily Wally's supervisor knows someone. This someone turns out to be a creepy bird dude who says he smell god on wally. Basically, he can smell Aaron Marx on wally. Because of course that would be the ONLY character in this comic anyone would ever call god.
This is where one of the biggest WTF moments of the comic comes up: The bird notes that wally has been getting away with all kinds of shit, and then challenges Wally to count to on one hand. Wally can't for some reason. Then its revealed that the bird has an 'invisible' answer in a suitcase, which wally of course calls absolute bullshit on. Turns out you need special goggles to see the trans-dimensional comic. Oh yes, the bird seems to have 'proof' that Wally and Holly are cartoon characters.
Still, wally doesn't take this very well, returning home and collapsing. Thing is, the dittos he control are linked to his mind - and if his mind is breaking down... then the dittos become monsters. The monster is just about to eat Kirbee and Chic when wally wakes up - and meanwhile Duffy comes across the bird who says that Eden is a trap and that the feast has begun.
So... that took about six months of comic updates for Eden to turn to shit. Duffy then talks with Wally and the others about this comic book character stuff, claiming that Wally is the main character and the book seems curiously prophetic. We then get an explanation of some multiverse bullshit meant to explain Eden, but this is called bullshit on, because lets face it, it sounds fucked up. Except when they go to see birdy they find him being eaten by a rip in reality. Oh dear.
Cut to a topsider fucking around in some alternate realty weird shit.
And back at Eden, they find out that the comic of course belongs to none other than Aaron Marx, because we can't multi-dimensional bullshit without getting him involved. Wally decides to go to this ghost spot to figure shit out, but security tries to stop him. Too bad they brought bats to a ditto fight. They find a recorder but shit gets weird, and in another dimension https://www.gocomics.com/endtown/2019/11/08 the topsider sees the recorder]. This brings the topsider to their reality, with predictable results - or not. Turns out the topsider is trying to prevent Armageddon somehow. ...an Armageddon triggered by bringing the topsider to their reality.
Wally wants to rescue Kirbee and chic but is stopped, and so Wally, Duffy, the laundry supervisor and the topsider teleport away to another dimension. At least the topsider agrees that interdimensional physics sounds like its just being made up on the spot. Nice lamp-shade. Here we're also told that the mutants are somehow partially multiverse stuff. Now we're to believe that the transformations are linked to the multiverse stuff, though the topsider points out that this explains how mutants can shrink or grow massively when they mutate. Extra mass has to come somewhere. Similarly the topsider talks about life expectancy for mutants - they're apparently linked to your animal. A mouse will have a short life, an elephant a long one. Oh dear. The topsider even points out a lot of the strange things that mutants experience when they change, the loss of memory, inability to count whether they have five or four fingers, that sort of things. It seems to add up... sort of, apparently children born of mutants do NOT suffer from this, which has been demonstrated in the comic. We're then also told that soon the topsiders will be less human than the mutants somehow.
Cut to a topsider facility where they seem to be fucking around with transdimensional gates - shit is blowing up and the gate is calling to people like some eldritch horror. They shut it down, and we get to see a bit of life in a topsider facility. Everyone is in a suit, but beyond that things look almost ok.
Cut back to the new gang, and they find a strange coca cola tower which seems abandoned, except for toothbrushes littering the streets. They explore the tower, and hear that they're not alone. Then the supervisor snaps a toothbrush and its full of blood. Turns out that all humans in this reality, on this earth, turned into toothbrushes.
This is where we get the final theory/best explanation of the mutations and why you have to be unconscious in order to not turn into a monster.
Cut to Aaron Marx fucking around once more, apparently moving in stopped time to evac all the mutants in Eden.
Cut back to the gang, and the toothbrushes are about to get them - but they manage to open a portal out - this of course goes badly, and the topsider opens her suit which mutates her near instantly into toothbrushes. Still, wally, duffy and the elephant make it out right into the topsider dimension lab. Now, strangely enough these topsiders do NOT try to kill the anthros.
They even get a tour, like being shown the glorious horror of the "children" that the topsiders are making as the next generation of humans. They call it a flesh tantrum - apparently the topsiders are making monsters, in revenge over the fact that the anthros will likely outlive them. And because nice things can't happen in this comic, the presence of the three stars corrupting the topsiders. Still, before the mayhem gets critical we're told that the whole plan of the place is to stop the Reality Interchange Plague. And of course we're told that the topsiders think that the comics were left to them as clues - and we know its done by Aaron Marx. We're also told that the anthros who are straight up comic book characters seem to be magnets for weird events and shit.
...almost as if being the main characters in a comic makes shit revolve around you.
Then things start going to shit because more people are getting corrupted. Even the topsider who was dumping all the exposition on us gets it. They knock him out and then forcibly mutate him. He responds poorly to this. They also find the whole base overrun with monsters.
That's where the comic got to at the time of this review
Ok - so... in the fanfiction communities, there is a trope or story category known as the "Sadfic". This isn't just another word for tragedy, its a descriptor used for stories that wallow in their own misery, where things just continually get worse, where nothing good ever happens.
Endtown's writing is 99% sadfic. There are brief moments of levity, but they're ALWAYS followed by the happy people getting either killed, or at least destroyed emotionally and mentally. This makes Endtown a miserable experience to read. There are NO happy endings, what so ever. Every time things seem to have calmed down, something will absolutely and without fail happen to fuck shit up. This gets so damn repetitive! The only few times someone seems to get a happy ending is if we see them get a "happy" afterlife after they're dead - so that's a bit of a crapshoot.
And to make it even worse, then 2012 almost every story arc references that lovely author-self insert of Aaron Marx. He is apparently some kind of self-insert OC that Aaron Neathery has put into nearly every comic he's ever made... Oh yes, its THAT kind of self-insert, and the whole dimension-hopping chucklefuck thing appears to be a running theme with every appearance of his. The cartoonist can't even seem to decide if he's an all-powerful god (swallowing missile explosions) or a weak normie human who can get slapped around, because he seems to fluctuate around to be whatever the cartoonist needs him to be at the moment. Consistent writing here? Nah, not happening.
For this crime alone this comic deserves nothing but exterminatus.
This reviewer cannot stress hard enough how fucking annoying the Aaron Marx character is, or how much he completely breaks the otherwise utterly dreary and miserable tone of the comic. You can go straight from people committing suicide and having their corpses paraded around, to mister not-tom-bombardil dancing around in a ballerina skirt (or something thematically similar) on the next page. The tonal whiplash that this fuckbucket of a self-insert dunut-steel OC causes in the comic cannot be understated.
It doesn't help either that the comic's tone shifts massively every time it starts going on about multi-verse and inter-dimensional bullshit. Hell, for the first year or so of the comic during the first story arc - the one about the guy and his rhino girlfriend - the comic is down right silly at times, though that can be attributed to the cartoonist not entirely having settled on how he wants to run the comic, so that can be forgiven. Shit quickly gets nice and grimdark after that though, leaving us with nothing but a trail of dears, death and misery - and you know what? That actually works out pretty well, though whether you actually like reading a comic that depressive is another a question.
This leaves the comic initially being about mutants in a post-apoc wasteland, how they're learning to deal with their new mutant bodies and just surviving - weeding out traitors, anyone who might reveal their location to the topsiders who want to purge them with lazors and nukes. These parts of the comic work just fine, with paranoid administrators and confused and emotionally scared mutants just trying to cope. The moment Aaron Marx, or any of the other inter-dimensional bullshit turns up the comic makes it impossible to suspend your disbelief, because you know its douche ex machina time. The problem is simply that its so far above what the main characters are able to do, that it robs them of agency completely. At those parts of the story they're just along for the ride, with either Aaron Marx, or perhaps some topsider scientists, dumping boatloads of nonsensical exposition while railroading the main characters around.
It's one of those rare cases where explaining how the sausage is made doesn't really help - where both show AND tell makes it worse. Its a post-apoc setting, with thousands of mutant humans living in an underground city. I don't need it explained exactly how the mutants mutated, or why, beyond "there's a mutagenic virus, shit sucks". Just saying that its there, and that the people are having trouble adapting works just fine. I mean, its a bloody furry webcomic. If you can suspend your disbelief enough to read a comic about cute furry critter people ripping each other apart and occasionally eating each other, then you don't need that explained in any more detail.
That's another thing: Annoying doctor who knock-off aside, then Aaron Marx's appearances just seem to be massive deus ex machinas to allow for easy writing solutions to complex plot issues. I don't need the ship that Holly hides away in to be a secret trans-dimensional alien ship that's nothing but a massive holodeck. If the idea was to write up that Holly runs off to live in a delusion that the world never ended, then it would have been just as crushing to see her pour imaginary tea to a pile of rocks and a sock-puppet made of rags in some hidey-hole. All these extravagant trans-dimensional plot devices come off as needlessly excessive, purely there to afford the cartoonist another excuse to ram his self-insert OC down our throats. The current arc about a cartoon animal comic book alternate dimension for, never explained reasons, turning people into monsters or mutants... can we get back to mutants eating each other?
Oh, and remember Al, the first main character of the comic, the main guy in the two first arcs? He is also an old recycled character that Aaron brought in from an older comic project. Why ever bother with originality?
That said the comic does an amazing job showing us the depressed, the suicidal, the insane mutants who simply cannot deal with their new anatomy. The whole cheese arc about whether to allow the community to eat mutant produce, and the political intrigue there? Oh it was amazing! ...well, right up until Aaron Marx has rear his ugly head to Deus Ex Marx shit up because the cartoonist probably just wanted an easy way to wrap up the arc. Still, the cartoonist is really good at writing miserable characters.
Another issue that for a comic that has run since 2009, then surprisingly little of consequence ever really happens. Sure, new arcs introduce new characters - but once you've read the comic for a while you quickly see the pattern that new characters are pretty much only introduced to be killed again, or for them to turn into villains (and then often killed...) or to be tormented psychologically and mentally so the few remaining main characters have someone to try and fail to save. The status quo never really changes all that much. The rats are still security in Endtown, despite being universally hated - who keeps feeding them? And sure, the high council gets swapped out by Jackrabbit and his political tribalism, but Endtown is still shit with people eating each other. Character development chiefly comes in the form of either mental breakdowns, a character dying, or a topsider being turned into a mutant. That's about it. Hell, the current Eden arc might well just end with the current 'gang' walking in the wasteland again as if pretty much nothing of consequence happened. They're still emotionally fucked up, but they've always been like that.
This also parallels with the main cast of characters for each arc being swapped out and often killed off or forgotten faster than a Game of Thrones story. Flask? Dies in the second arc she's featured prominently in. The bear mayor? Dies after a couple arcs just when he found happiness. Holly? Insane and abandoned on a holodeck after a few arcs. Almost every arc features a new main cast, with the exception of Wally the cat. You quickly realize that you should just stop caring about any of the characters, because even seemingly long-lasting ones like Holly can end up getting thrown under the bus. It reminds this reviewer of The original Æon Flux War animation where the character in focus constantly changes, showing each new 'main character' as the hero after killing off the last one. Now I get it: You're supposed to feel bad, and be sad when they die or shit happens - the problem is that once you're on the fourth or fifth switcheroo that shit gets old.
And thus we have the trifecta of suck with this comic: The tonal shifts that go all over the place whenever Marxs shows up. Whacky comic-book characters come to life inter-dimensional hijinks? Brutal and grimdark Post-apoc survival? Pick one. Main characters that cycle through likes its going through a player roster in Smash? Pick a main cast and stick to them, develop them! Whacky OC who is a knock-off Doctor Who self insert? Purge it with holy promethium.
Another big issue is that some of the story arcs seem almost inconsequential, as mentioned earlier. Take the Lizard arc. The first half of it, the part where Wally and Holly meet two topsiders who want to become mutants, they become mutants, then they all travel a bit, get captured by the lizard colony, shit happens, the whole colony is blown up by the topsiders, and in the end Wally, Holly, the lizard-woman Kirbee and a chicken boy named Chic leave. The only real consequence of almost two years worth of comics, was the addition of two new characters while Wally and Holly remained roughly as emotionally scared and battered as they always were. If we had just had a few pages where the initial duo meets Kirbee and Chic walking in the wasteland, it would have amounted to the exact same end product. Now the cheese arc, this actually introduced some change to the status quo - some - because we're still shown that Security still magically somehow manages to remain as they are, without anyone able to challenge or reign them in, so not that much changes either.
This comic could be one of the greats. The art style is amazing, but the massively inconsistent writing, along with the bullshit self-insert OC just kills it for me. It's not unlike reading quantum vibe or RHJ's comics - when they're doing purely original storytelling they're amazing, but when their politics start polluting the comics they turn to shit. With this comic its just the cartoonists godlike self-insert instead of politics.
Oh its good. It's actually really fucking great.
Aaron might absolutely suck diseased rhino balls at writing coherent plots, but holy shit his art is good.
The artwork in Endtown looks like something straight out of a professionally made European comic book. Compare to the style of André Franquin
The action is dynamic, and Aaron is great at working with the many various sizes of the anthros in the comic. Small characters look small, big ones look huge, the mutant monsters are pure Rob Bottin grade horrors straight out of The Thing. Action is fluid and you're never in doubt when a punch has connected, or when someone has been shot. The violence in the comic is graphic, with people bleeding,
Of course... this is by far not the first comic to have great art with shit writing.
No clue who Aaron Neathery is. The comic page doesn't say anything what so ever about the guy. His own website, linked down in the links section, says absolutely nothing about his background, but I smell an art degree.
according to his twitter he lives in Houston Texas but that's not much to go on.
As with all furry filth, the simplest solution would be to purge it all with sacred promethium.
Of course, baring that, then this comic is absolutely amazing when its just focusing on Endtown and its struggles. As with most post-apoc stories, be it zombie apoc or post-nuclear apoc, then its all about how its other people who are the true monsters. The topsiders are making their children into monsters, while the anthros are eating each other in secret, or plotting to seize power via crazy gambits or military dictatorships. All that shit works great.
...too bad the cartoonist loves to take these extra-dimensional shits all over the comic. If we had just been told in the start of the comic that the end of the world in the setting had been caused by extra-dimensional experimentation that caused shit to leak into their reality, corrupting people and turning them into monsters or mutants, then... that would have been it. It was a sci-fi explanation for a post-apoc setting where the survivors mostly used ray-guns and shit. It would have made sense, and then you could have gone back to focusing on stories about the mutants trying to survive and get along.
Instead we get arc and arc about weird shit that would have worked much better in a doctor who episode, but not a miserable post-apoc comic. Hell, it has never been established in the comic why people started mutating into trans-dimensional hybrids, especially since we're shown that the mutations started happening just before the WW3 apocalypse. People just randomly started turning into furries and shit one day? Initially we're told that everyone else mutated into horrible monsters that now roam the scorched remains of Earth's surface - and honestly, that could have worked just fine.
This comic could have been one of the very best. The art quality is entirely professional. But instead we have to fuck around with god-like author self-inserts and trans-dimensional plot holes so huge it feels like I'm looking at brony porn again. At the time of this writing the cartoonist for this makes a little over a thousand dollars a month via Patreon, which is nice, but even RHJ makes around 5-800$ a month for updating his comics maybe two or three times a year. I think that says a lot about just how few fans the cartoonist really has. It also doesn't help that the comic has been progressively getting worse and worse with its update schedule. As of this review its maybe once or twice a week, and never on the same days. Irregular updating kills webcomic audiences. Apparently the cartoonist has been experiencing health problems - but failing to communicate that to your readers still kills readership.
Neathery, the cartoonist, could do so much better if he had just been a bit more original in his choice of characters - and if he had been better at sticking to a theme, tone and update schedule.