League of Super Redundant Heroes
|Original review author:||kyrtuck|
|Webcomic name:||League of Super Redundant Heroes|
|Start Date:||Feb 14, 2011|
|Defining Flaw:||Middling humor giving away to unimpressive attempts at more serious plot.|
Was brought up on the BWW forums, and I thought I'd take a looksee, since I've liked lots of superhero satire.
This webcomic started out as a moderately entertaining superhero comedy. But the downfall came when one of the two remaining remaining authors gradually tried putting in more semi serious story arcs and character development, as well as one-off gag strips less and less relevant to superheroes.
The beginning of the Downfall can very well be pinpointed at #319 with the introduction of Alex.
Early on, this webcomic was a comedy, plain and simple. It had silly characters, silly powers, silly consequences from silly powers, calling out superhero conventions, and superheroes acting unheroic in a city called "Shitropolis." Sometimes there were funny story arcs, like three villains capturing and impersonating four of the protagonists with the remaining protagonist being oblivious to it. Maybe the humor was middling, but the series knew what it was about.
Cut to the mid-300s and beyond where we're now starting to have some of the characters undergo bits of serious growth, development and drama, while facing more genuine adventures and threats. None of this carries much weight precisely because hundreds of strips prior were spent on just being goofy and aimless. A better way of doing the Cerebus Effect in a superhero satire can be seen in Adam Warren's Empowered comic, which dropped hints of more serious material, like Emp's insecurity or the threat of Willy Pete early on. Or, going into a different form of media, the Powerpuff Girls. It was a cartoon that was silly the majority of the time yet still had scary, emotional and intense moments dropped in season one, and pretty much maintained its balance for six seasons.
Another major point to gripe about are the single gag strips being less superhero related. Aliens and magic may be relevant tangents, but not when its a parody of Harry Potter, who is part of a different genre. And you should stay away from ordinary civilian social commentary, unless it is with the main characters on their downtime.
There are dozens of recurring characters in this webcomic, most of whom are either direct parodies of famous characters, or exceedingly one note joke characters. So I'm just going to focus on the main protagonists.
A scrawny man who acquired absurdly powerful eye lasers which burned out his eyeballs forever, and made him an endless generator of blind jokes. He may as well be mentally handicapped as well, with all his stupidity. The man can't even follow people's voices. Daredevil or Dr. Midnite he is not.
Lazer Pony is the one truly nice character of this webcomic, and is casual buddies with a few other superheroes and one supervillain. So its sad seeing him as the most frequently abused character as well.
He's still around, and the least changed.
With a name like Good Girl, you'd think she'd be a foil and straightman to the many douchecapes, putting in necessary perspective. But no, what we get instead is someone that's mind controlled into being good by the halo. When the halo is removed or runs out of power, she reverts to her default form, Bad Good Girl, a straight up mean bitch. And then even as Good Girl, she isn't that heroic, as she tends to be either passive, petty, or at times hinted to be psychotic in a different direction...This character is depressing when you think about it.
Later on, she got split into two. One of them becomes a mostly Good Girl who can transform into an angel. And the other is a Bad Good Girl all the time.
Originally a non powered, unskilled woman forced to spy on the League wearing a cowgirl bikini, she decides to stay on, keeping the costume she hates...just because...She worked as a harassed waitress, and somehow burns foodjust by thinking about it...Yeah, she was a very "just because" piece of fanservice kind of character all around.
But since the introduction of Alex, Buckaress has undergone lots of semi serious development, realizing how mean she was in the past and trying to become nicer, physically training herself, equipping herself, and getting a more practical costume. Yet she's still used for occasional boob jokes, hers having suddenly become freaking H-Cups. Has also had a steady lesbian (or Bisexual?) relationship with Alex, inserting lots of slice of life material.
Both the website's and TvTropes Cast pages list her as a "supporting character" but screw it. She's appearing very frequently, and is vital to the webcomic's changes, so I'm regarding her as a main protagonist! So Alex (no one can remember her superhero codename) randomly came in on a blind date with Buckaress. After they fight a villain, Alex gives tips for improvement to Buckaress who gobbles it all up without question. Since then, they are rarely seen apart, and fill up many strips doing slice of life things.
While she is unpowered and can be beaten or captured, Alex seems very much a Mary Sue in terms of plot function. She is always a straightman, almost always correct. Is never an idiot or jerk, and in fact has no funny quirks of her own. She makes decisions for the group, unchalleneged, despite supposedly only being an ally. But on the plus side, she never rants about social problems of gays or blacks as a defining character trait, nor hates white men, so congrats, she isn't a Delta Dawn antihero! Take your victories where you can, Super Redundants!
An unpowered, uncostumed frat boy douchebro completely uninvolved in any superheroics. Lives in their place just because. Aside from being yet another layer of unwarranted punishment for Lazer Pony, I don't know what the purpose of Keith's existence is supposed to be. I guess neither does Mr. Sausage, since Keith has been appearing less and less.
A vicious, centuries old gnome and former member of a major superhero group, now he's just the League's abusive landlord. Lazer Pony is his usual target, but he can be mean to anyone that's not a hot chick. I actually wish they expanded more on him being an older experienced superhero with unconventional tactics. But alas, Gyrognome appears less and less now.
Initially, this webcomic's art alternated between four artists, Mr. Sausage, Mr. Dork, Sir Walrus, and Sire Happypants. They frankly appeared pretty interchangeable, with all of them starting out with monochrome coloring, zany expressions, alright poses, shiny cell shading, and cheesecake. The latter two, Sire Walrus and Sire Happypants, dropped out early on. Mr. Dork stayed on a while longer, but screw it, I'll just focus on the one guy still drawing, Mr. Sausage.
After initially being a clone to the other three, Mr. Sausage fell into an odd phase of drawing people in an overly simple, minimally shaded, babyish looking style with oval eyes, and round face shapes. He was capable of drawing better styles if he wanted to, but for some reason, favored the babyish style for a while.
Later on, the preferred style of Mr. Sausage evolved into better shaped, but still big eyes for the females, small eyes for the males, generally small noses, small mouths in dull underacting expressions, occasional copypasta, and character anatomy that's only about three and a half heads tall, lessening the attempted sexy by quite a bit. Once again, Mr. Sausage is capable of other, better art styles, he's just choosing to stick with a more lazy style.
Two final things I'd like to gripe about regarding the artwork. One, as a strip of just three or four panels, the format does not work well for drama or action. There can't be much build up, you can't change the size or shape of the panels very much, you can't have any stunning splash pages. Two, all the women everywhere have hour glass figures with D-cups or bigger. Sure, it may be fitting for a power fantasy, but it also gets dull when you have women who all have the same body shape with little to no variation or contrast. I think there is also a loss of comedy potential. You could have a plain nerd girl who becomes a villain just to get attention. Or an ugly superheroine stuck with dull unrewarding missions. Or a fat villainess that not even the strongest heroes can budge. Or something!
The "About" section claims that all four artists had backgrounds in illustration but not comics, and I guess it shows. I could not find find anything at all on Sire Happypants. Mr. Dork, AKA Psycho Captain, is from Sweden, but I couldn't find out anything else on him. Sir Walrus, AKA Drunken Novice, AKA Rickard Jonassan, also from Sweden, is the author of Two Guys and Guy, another simplistic cell shaded comedy webcomic focused on idiots and jerks. I also couldn't find out much about Mr. Sausage. His Twitter is just an advertisement for League of Super Redundant Heroes, plus a handful of fanarts. I get the feeling he's not all that invested on superheroes, and more of a nerd generalist.
As is, League of Super Redundant Heroes is akin to a dead squirrel floating in a swimming pool. Its still moving slowly, but lacks the energy and life it once had. Mr. Sausage either needs to up his game on the art, or end the series.