|Original review author:||webkilla - written in autumn 2019|
|Webcomic names:||Leftover Soup|
|Author:||Mason "Tailsteak" Willson|
|Start Date:||November 22, 2010|
|End Date:||November 2017|
|Genre:||Slice of Life & Social Justice|
|Defining Flaw:||A slice of life webcomic that tries to hide its extremely retarded SJW messages behind a cast of what could have been interesting characters|
Slice of life comics are a dime a dozen, but this one caught the eye of the wiki forum regulars after a close read revealed... strange things.
Considering that this is a SJW webcomic disguised as a slice of life webcomic, then it was essentially never good. The question is whether you think that it turned to shit the moment the comic properly introduced the quirky manic dream nympho and her three boyfriends and one girlfriend or once we get to the mugging.
I know that sounds weird, but the nympho supporting character can ultimately be chalked up to having a quirky cast of characters in a slice of life comic, and arguments will be presented later in the review as to why she's actually a surprisingly deep character. Some might consider it shark jumping, but depending on your tastes it might just fly under the radar.
However, following said mugging which ends with the main character Benjamin shooting the mugger in self defense (the mugger survives) and then Benjamin getting arrested because of that. This kicks off the longest running side-plot of the webcomic, during which the local police is repeatedly portrayed to be as cartoonishly inept and corrupt as one might expect to be told they are if you asked a Black Lives Matter activist.
I know this is a lot of explanation for the downfall of a slice of life webcomic, but in a comic full of Weird & Quirky™ characters, then spotting where the shark is jumped can be tricky. This reviewer argues that its when the cop sub-plot drops in, which is 160 or so pages into the 1000 page webcomic, though this reviewer is also willing to agree that depending on your tastes then it might be a lot earlier.
Story, Plot and Characters
Ok, so... its a slice of life webcomic. That means that there's nothing big going on, just a bunch of people living their lives and reacting to stuff happening to them. Hijinks, misunderstandings, cooking puns and D&D jokes abound.
Ultimately the best way to give a rundown of the webcomic's story and plot is to first introduce the characters:
Meet Benjamin Halligan IV (as in, the fourth) - he was raised in a very Christian household, never saw children's cartoons as child, and is working to be a really damn good cook - he's basically an idiot savant. Due to his upbringing he is incredibly naive and uninformed when it comes to pop culture anything, which of course leads to hijinks and shenanigans as one would expect from a main character in a slice of life comic. He is, by TS's own words, a self-insert.
Meet Ellen - a bitchy gamer girl who works in a PC repair shop. Will fix your router, kill all of the viruses, play all the D&D, raid all the WoWs and... you know, be a normie gamer.
Meet Regina - very religious well-meaning young lady, part of the D&D crew
Meet Maxine - the manic dream nympho who wants to spread as much happiness and joy in the world, which means lots of sex, because that's the most efficient delivery vehicle. Is Ellen's D&D and workout buddy, and close friend.
Meet Lily - the overtly man-hating, totally not a villain or antagonist, who the cartoonist repeatedly claims is totally not deranged or fucked in the head, is Ellen's boss and D&D buddy.
These characters, along with Maxine's three boyfriends and one girlfriend, along with a later tag-along, make up the main cast of the webcomic, though Benjamin, Ellen and Maxine get the most page time. Now, the funny thing is that this is now how these characters are introduced on the cast page... no, there you just get a portrait, name, age, occupation and how they like their sexual partners. Bit of a strange prioritization of information, right? If you're just casually checking the webcomic out, then this should be your first red flag. Remember, on tumblr blogs listing one's sexuality is very important for the average SJW.
But ok, a quick rundown of the plot - which will be semi-chronological, but later in the webcomic a lot of the plot-lines scatter around a bit, making a chronological list of events rather annoying to make:
Benjamin moves in with Ellen, wows her with his cooking skills. Then we're slowly introduced to the rest of her friends and Maxine's partners. All of this is just your usual slice of life stuff, with jokes like how Ellen is a bit of a slob when it comes to food while Benjamin is a genius, while he's a moron with computers while she's really good. For a slice of life comic, it's not that bad and might even get a good chuckle out of you, like when Ellen is sent to repair a client's WIFI only to discover that the client has been mooching off their neighbour's WIFI and she has to go apologise, or when the gang is out shopping and the nympho wants to flash the cashier for a discount and the rest of the gang has to rein her in.
Normally just having a nympho character, especially one who is introduced by grabbing Benjamin's balls out of nowhere, would be a massive detriment to any comic, because it truly strains one's suspended disbelief. However, episodes like the shopping incident, or how we're shown that she gets quarterly STD checks at her doctor, shows that for a silly character then she's actually treated pretty realistically, if such a person were to exist. Hell, the most unrealistic aspect of that character is arguably the four-way relationship she's got going on with her menagerie of partners. It should also be noted that despite trying, nympho never gets to fuck Benjamin because he is an awkward fucktard. We're also shown repeatedly that the other characters don't always, if ever, agree with her philosophy or understanding of how the world works, which adds depth to both the nympho and the other characters. Slice of life hijinks also abound from alll of this, like the time Benjamin unknowingly runs into nympho's girlfriend and gets a date with her though things do get awkward when he realizes its nympho's girlfriend. Nympho is also fleshed out as a proper character during interactions with people like her father, when he shows up at her work one day to badger her about going to the cemetary and celebrate/mourn her dead brother, who was a soldier who died for a war she disapproved of. It shows that she is more than just a sex-pot, though her friends do appear to thinks its a bit weird how she wants her body disposed of when she dies. Another example of nympho's depth as a character is when she and Benjamin get stuck in an elevator. This is interesting not because its used as excuse for her to try to shag him, but because if she's stuck too long, she'll go off her meds. Seeing her go through what amounts to a cavalcade of psychotic episodes is harrowing, but it also shows that her constant search for fun and sexual stimulation has a very dark side that she, normally, keeps very well controlled. Sure, she claims she was 'just faking it' when they get out, but Benjamin still insists on watching her take her meds. Still, she's a nympho, no doubt about that, like when she gets a morph suit and wants to be a sexual superhero, saving people from not having sex... well that's what everyone else thinks she'll use it for.
...but all that changed
when the fire nation attacked when Benjamin gets mugged when going home from work one night.
The sub-plot that this mugging introduces reads as if written by a white man who is an ardent Black Lives Matter supporter. I say white man, because... well... it still portrays the only real criminal in the comic as a black thug who robs and kills people quite brutally. The BLM thing comes into play once Benjamin gets arrested because the cops think he assaulted the black guy, not the other way around. (Even the most liberal-minded police would naturally assume the black person would be the criminal, because, frankly, black people typically commit the violent crimes.) With this the police is shown to beyond comically inept at their work, thoroughly destroying any suspended disbelief a reader might have. The excuse "That's not my department" is used repeatedly.
Take the exchange on this page and try to count the number of things that don't add up. Hell, the clerk wont even tell Benjamin if he can get his bail money refunded, followed by a quick kangaroo trial by media because of course.
A little later Benjamin gets off because the 'victim' wont testify on account of apparently having decapitated himself after a PCP overdose. No really. But the fun doesn't stop there: With the charges dropped, the cops want to give Benjamin his gun back. Hold on, gun? That was the thug's gun, right? Nope, idiot police wants to give a loaded gun back to a man who says its not his.
Because the police are stupid, amirite?
And because the police in this comic aren't just stupid, but the police are of course also evil, then its hinted that if he even touched the gun he'll get arrested for carrying an obviously stolen gun. Makes sense right? How about no. Benjamin 'dodges' the entrapment bullet by refusing to accept the gun, walking away and leaving a confused clerk behind.
Because it makes total fucking sense that the cops would fork over a clearly stolen handgun to someone who says its not his. Real galaxy-brain level writing here.
This initial exchange starts off Benjamin's quest to clear his name, which leads to all kinds of hijinks, but lets talk about some of the many other side-plots of the comic... because as a slife of life comic, then its basically nothing but interwoven side-plots that pop in and out as the cartoonist sees fit. This subplot is essentially the A-plot.
B-plot: Homemade Boardgames. Benjamin (read: The Cartoonist) loves to design his own boardgames, and plays them regularly with his new friends. Nothing particularly amazing here, but there are a few good jokes here and there, plus later in the comic one of nympho's boyfriends helps Benjamin getting a game or two published, plus a] lot of pages dedicated to showing the many games being played. At one point Benjamin and the nympho even think up their own RPG.
C-plot: Cooking. Benjamin initially convinces Ellen to let him be her roomie by cooking for her, and there are several instances of him impressing her and the others with his cooking, to the point that at one point Ellen OD's on nutmeg, or him being horrified by her shit-tier cooking skills, to introducing Ellen to food she simply doesn't know exists, like pesto.
D-plot: D&D. Throughout the webcomic the girls meet up to play D&D, sometimes some of them meet up to just talk about character creation, or fun stuff like how of acting in-character is too much or arguing about how 4th edition D&D mechanics don't all make sense, or sneaky references to FATAL.
E-plot: Tech Support. at the PC repair shop many a fun thing happens, from the aforementioned accidental hacking of someone else's WIFI, to finding shota porn (drawn hentai featuring underage boys and adult women) on someone's computer and arguing over whether they should report the owner to the police, but they don't actually know if its illegal or not, or if it's the owner of the computer who put it there. There's also an encounter at Lily's store where an absolute strawman of a bad customer is trying to bully her into giving him a discount. The strawman jackass reads like the ultimate stereotype of a bad customer, which TS actually confirms in his blog. Thing is, TS has also claimed that he considers his webcomic a very realistic one... and deliberately using exaggerated stereotypes completely fucks that up if the idea was to write a somewhat realistic slice of life comic.
And of course, because it's a boy and a girl who live together, then the growing relationship between Benjamin and Ellen is sort of the F-plot... or just Benjamin trying to date anyone at all, sort of. It starts small, with them helping each other with things like strange computer issues or feeling bad about being a bit chunky. About a third into the webcomic Benjamin briefly tries to date nympho's girlfriend, but that gets derailed because girlfriend's sister is of course the cop-clerk that Benjamin left that gun with. You see, it turns out that leaving that gun with her got her fired for some reason...
What reason? Because police are stupid. Stupid enough that Benjamin even calls her out on not simply returning it to its legal owner it was stolen from. But why do that, when you can be stupid instead?
This botched date also picks up the mugging/police subplot, with a few pages explaining things - but because slice of life lulz, then this too gets derailed because Benjamin accidentally outs nympho's girlfriend as being in a love-square with nympho and her harem. Later on the two identical twins talk it out, because casual conversations about how your sister apparently has a whole host of lovers is totally normal to have and you should be ashamed if you don't think its normal.
Now, going through the entire webcomic and highlighting every bit of silly SJW bullshit, or other review-worthy event, would turn this review into 90% story review, so all that is hidden under the following drop-down.
Story review long version
After the botched date nothing of grand consequence happens for a while: The gang, sans Lily, tries to play nympho's homemade RPG which results in much hilarity, as Benjamin's awkwardness creeps in when Ellen tries to minmax, by having her character attempt to bang his character for extra points, because of course the nympho's game rewards having sex. The game ends when Ellen, the eternal min-maxer and Geek Girl™, one-shots the BBEG because she broke the game like a horse rupturing the intestines of Mr. Hands.
After the game we get a hilariously totally not-forced exchange between some of the girls when the religious one says that the non-Christian girls will go to Hell, and does so rather casually - without malice even. This quickly turns into a bit of shouting and the usual round of holier-than-though SJW/edgelord grade riffing on all the inconsistencies of the Bible.
All of that leads to the religious one, Gina, getting a story arc based about loosening up and finding love, starting with a makeover. This leads to a date with Benjamin where they talk religion and his super-religious creationist background, and Benjamin's blissful unawareness means nothing happens between the two. Benjamin later confirms that due to his blissful ignorance he did not consider it a date at all. She later tries online dating, but her strict Christian values makes that difficult, her friends do try to help her by pointing out that she needs either change her expectations or her methods. It also turns out she got sent a fake dickpic from a pornstar. But then the gang realises that since Gina's profile had impossible search parameters then it couldn't possibly be from a random match. It had to be from someone who had searched for her. No, its's not Lily. Turns out it was likely just a random internet troll. This arc is NEVER wrapped up in the comic proper - instead it gets a few pages in the epilogue to wrap things up, which of course is not how you're supposed to write a comic.
The next thing of note that happens in the webcomic is another part of the mugger/police sub-plot where the now ex-cop girl wants to return the stolen gun, and asks Benjamin if he remembers the address. Leave your brain at the door, because it of course makes no fucking sense that the cops haven't done that already. Because the BLM-grade love of cops is a running theme here, Benjamin gives the wrong address just to fuck with her. Then they both go to return the gun and the owner instantly tries to rob them, though Benjamin manages to bullshit their way out. It also turns out that ex-cop sabotaged the gun.
Benjamin returns the favor by getting her a job at the restaurant he works at, which leads to several pages of training where we also learn how to wash our hands right. Subsequent comics with resturant kitchen gags are actually quite funny, though when he tries to take ex-cop to a hippie smoothie place, we of course get some more obligatory cop hatred because of course.
Next fun event is when Lily runs a homebrow RPG game with the girl-gang set in her hard-scifi techno-utopia. Of course, utopia for a man-hater means there's no men in it. This is of course instantly called out to no effect. Hilarity ensues when Ellen does some brushing up on the setting and finds the porn. In the words of Ellen: So. Much. Robot. Fucking. And apparently Lily has fans. And like any good ideologue, Lily's world has some fucked up shit going on that somehow makes it perfect in Lily's view. This encounter is the first grand exposure we get of Lily's lunacy.
Benjamin is of course asked what he thinks, and his reply is painfully forced and doesn't make sense. Humans do not talk like this! Hell, he straight up goes full "men are just evil so she's right", with some of the most stupid arguments you can imagine. Sure, Ellen tries to call Benjamin on his and Lily's bullshit but that it even got put in the webcomic means the damage is already done, because as we all know Benjamin is TS's self insert.
Later, after work one day, Benjamin takes ex-cop now co-worker to a hippie smoothie place the rest of the gang once introduced him to. We of course get some obligatory cop hatred because of course, followed by more SJW BS or going on about how cops totally lie all the time or how they totally live in a class based oligarchy because Mr. Hippie is obviously a secret commie. After dealing with the hippie, we get a hilarious conversation about why prostitution is bad because of course Benjamin is so stupid that he doesn't know what pimping is. This leads to a truly moronic accusation from Benjamin that ex-cop is actually undercover and trying to spy on him, an accusation ex-cop doesn't take well but she fires back by being really fucking creepy.
Back to Lily's man-hating utopia game, nympho wants to be a dude and gets shot down hard, to the point that Lily invokes the Holocaust because that's supposed to make sense. Ultimately Lily doesn't take the attempt to break her game very well. Anywho, once the game starts they instantly run into the fact that Lily's villains sound strangely reasonable, almost as if they're actually the good guys. More bullshit is discovered and this is discussed at length, like how the right to having a kid is something you bid on with money. And like always Ellen wins them the game by taking the game mechanics and sodomizing them like your drunk uncle on your asshole after he took half a pill-jar of viagra. All of this is much later discussed by the girls, where they reflect on how the strange setting works, with Lily admitting that her personal political screed/schlickfic setting isn't suited for freeform RP. The girls also point out things that don't quite add up. The nympho is of course most upset about the lack of penis in the setting.
Anywho, Benjamin has a nightmare and this leads to him trying to track down the dead man who mugged him, in order to get some closure. But... TWIST! The ID the mugger originally gave cops was stolen, and the person who died later was an innocent person who most likely got killed by the mugger, in an attempt to cover his tracks. This leads to Benjamin wanting to track down the killer, both to clear his own name and to get justice for Richard, the dead kid who got his head cut off. He of course enlists the ex-cop with bribes of food, who of course tells him to go to the police. With his "quest" of wanting to track down that killer without going to the cops (because BLM logic) Benjamin seeks info on PCP, which goes roughly a well as one might expect.
Now picture this: Benjamin in a black hoodie, walking down into "da hood", walking up to the nearest group of hoodlums and plainly asking to buy drugs. This of course isn't taken well, but to Benjamin's favor then he did come up with a good cover story. This ends with Benjamin sitting across from a drug dealer with a jar of PCP in his hands, because of course this was a good idea. And because plot armor he gets to run away from the whole thing without a scratch. After this he of course fesses up to his friends, and ex-cop later notes to him that doing all this without police means that any evidence he finds won't be admissible, plus right now the killer doesn't know that Benjamin is alive, so... she tells him to stop. She also quite effectively calls him out on the simple fact that he has no real end-game in mind for when he finds the guy. He then completely fails at human-talking in an attempt at being angry over said call-out, because Benjamin's dialogue has always been painfully robotic. Oh and of course Benjamin thinks that sending this MURDERER to prison is bad, because police bad, as if that's an excuse not to come with a plan for what to do if he found him.
At a different point in the webcomic, Lily calls out by Ellen on the fact that Lily has assembled a fanbase of self-hating beta manlets and how that's fucking pathetic. This is followed by a bit more back and forth feedback on that techno-utopia setting, but it ultimately leads to Ellen realizing that she has to attend a wedding pretty soon. Benjamin is of course tapped to be the plus one for when that time comes.
Now its a little over 700 pages into the webcomic, out of the 1000, that Ellen finally realizes that she likes Benjamin. With that realization, she notes that she fucked up pretty early on in the webcomic, because Benjamie is a fucking tard who will absolutely do exactly what he's told, and she told him not to express or entertain sexual or romantic interest in her whatsoever. This comes to a head when she asks him if she looks good in the dress she got for her father's wedding, and he won't answer. Once she revokes that rule, he of course says she's beautiful - leaving her dumbstruck.
It could very well be argued that this sequence signals the endgame of the webcomic: Of course the two are going to become a couple, and as they struggle to get Benjamin dressed for the wedding, using a queer eye for help, with Ellen enjoying the result, though Benjamin would likely prefer one with fewer needles poking him. En route to the wedding, slice of life stuff happens, to which Benjamin strips near-naked to change a tire in the rain so as to not ruin his suit. Problem is they blew TWO tires. While trying to call a tow truck, they also learn that the wedding got canceled because rain and roof collapse. That's when both of them loose cellphone connection, and they suddenly start thinking what if they're the last two people on Earth. You get absolutely no points for where that ends up hinting towards. Of course, as luck and PG ratings would have it, they get tow truck blocked.
So, upon returning home you'd think they would just jump each other's bones, right? Right? Well no, because fuck you.
What happens next is the most cringe sequence of the entire webcomic. More cringe than Lily's bad customer strawman, more cringe than anything Nympho did, more cringe than anything else in the webcomic: The duo walks in on the other girls playing D&D, and waiting for Ellen to GM it in her wedding dress, because reasons. Basically the D&D subplot and the Benjamin getting a girlfriend subplots collide, catastrophically.
The cringe comes in that Benjamin joins the game - in a game, with Lily, and him knowing nothing of pop culture... and they're apparently all playing as the Scooby Doo gang. And he's the dog, knowing nothing of how Scooby normally acts. Of course he goes a bit overboard with Scooby saying everything with an R first, but then nympho points out that since Scooby can talk it can consent to sex. Benjamin then tries to stage a 'coup' in the gang by trying to hump Nympho's character Freddy into submission.
Imagine how Lily, the very publicly self avowed misandrist who think all men are rapists in waiting reacts to this. After the game Lily demands that Ellen evict Benjamin, revealing her utterly fucked up mind which is just a marvel of lunacy. Her definition of a relationship is of course insane to put it mildly, though the real kicker on that page is in the blog underneath where TS straight up claims that SHE IS NOT REALLY WRONG. Fucking hell.
...now, if this was a full on openly SJW comic, that would be it - but as a point in TS's favor, then Ellen does call Lily out on how stupid that is. Though Lily is still shown to think that she's completely right. After that we also get the explanation to the dominance humping: Benjamin, the idiot-savant that he is, knew that such is normal dog behavior and Scooby is just a normal dog, right?. He thought the idea of a talking dog as the weirder part of it all. We also learn that Ellen had been attempting to play footsie with Benjamin throughout the game, but had accidentally been doing it to Lily who of course thought it was Benjamin trying to foot-rape her.
Anywho, to more or less wrap up the mugging arc, Benjamin's next harebrained scheme to flush out the killer relates to real estate. This of course looks really stupid, but basically he's spreading a bit of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about whether the poor neighborhood, in which he's sure the mugger/murderer lives, is going to get scooped up by a big corporation and turned into a mega-mall and expensive condos. The logic here is to ID the killer by getting him to sign a petition with his name and address. This ultimately pays off, because of course it does. But Ellen demands that he stops it because its not safe and they are looking at starting dating, because their sexual tension is getting quite tense. She gives him a week to get his shit sorted out, or she'll kick him out of the apartment because she can't stand the idea of him getting hurt from all this.
Of course, before that wraps up, the two identical twins and nympho meet in a restaurant to talk about how totally normal and not weird nympho and her girlfriend's lifestyles are, when someone gets arrested while they're eating. Nympho, being a pathological "I make the world feel better type" can't stand see what she feels is police brutality (Remember kids: All cops are evil and violent), so she goes all livestreaming on the action, which ends up getting the guy freed. Ex-cop twin talks to the officer, who says she can likely get her job back, but she declines, because she's a good reformed ex-cop now - par for the course for an SJW fantasy.
Right, back to the mugger/murderer thing: With a name and address, Benjamin makes his peace, says goodbye to Ellen, who hopes he'll come back safe, and finds... that the murderer ate his own shotgun. This upsets Benjamin, because he wanted to redeem him, which totally makes sense, right? Oh, and it turns out that he's not quite dead. Benjamin initially wants to leave him for dead, but being a bitch he calls for an ambulance and scrams. He then seeks out ex-cop, informing her that he didn't shoot the guy, because she'd been going about wtf he was going to do with the killer. Returning to his own place, he finds Ellen and they talk, her ending up telling him not to feel sorry and to finally take his own wants and needs into account instead of being a doormat.
To that end he lunges at her and kisses her. This is of course instantly rejected because male dominance of any kind is this webcomic is EVIL. What is correct, instead, is for Ellen to reciprocate, by lunging at Benjamin and kissing him. Because of course that makes sense. This turns into them shagging, with subsequent interactions merely reminding us of how much of a "adorkable brainlet" Benjamin is. It doesn't help that the two talk like robots programmed by aliens. Much later, after reading some online kama sutra, Benjamin turns into a sexual tyrannosaurus, because of course then TS's self insert would be the best lover in the world.
Lily is of course upset over all penis-enjoying because like any good man-hating lunatic, she wants everyone to adopt her twisted vision of men=bad. So after freaking out, and Gina crying a little because she clearly also wanted that hot hot scrawny chef ass, Lily straight up accuses Ellen of having been brainwashed by penis, because of course.
To this end Ellen has a revelation about the true nature of Lily's twisted mind, realizing that the true reason Lily is upset is that with a boyfriend Lily can't control her anymore. Lily of course throws a fit over being confronted like that, arguing that she is "keeping them safe" and "wanting the best" for them and BS like that, like a good cult leader.
Now, in a logical setting this would be where Ellen considers quiting her job at Lily's tech shop, because being around such a clearly toxic lunatic can't be good... but they just hug it out. This leads to Lily and Gina leaving, Lily taking Gina bowling to help her get guys to hit come and hit on her.
This leads to the two talking, Lily opening up about her childhood, where we learn the root of her need to control everything and apparently it boils down her parents having dragged her around to child beauty pageants of which she never won anything, which in turn made her hate physical beauty. But of course, because an SJW could never dream of talking a man-hater out of man-hatred, then she doesn't repent at all. In TS's own words, in the blog for that comic: "So Lily has unpacked her misandry's roots, but recognizes that revealing her belief's psychological origin doesn't make it untrue."
The fact that TS even included this final confrontation in the webcomic is a massive point in his and the webcomic's favor: A full on SJW would never have had characters that so deeply rejects such misandry - but to detract from that again, then we never see Lily reform in the comic, despite something like that being an obvious continuation of having been BTFO'd like that. Also TS's claim that her beliefs aren't true show how much of a self-hating little bitch he is.
but ok, what does the webcomic end with?
Wrapping up the mugger arc at the end of the webcomic, Benjamin finally tracks the killer down to a hospital and vents at the guy for survived a drug-fueled suicide attempt. Benjamin introduces himself formally, and introduces to his plan of redeeming the guy because Benjamin is a goody two-shoes moron. He later visits the guy, only see the father of the murder victim there as well for no explained reason. This gets awkward because daddy has a gun, so they talk and Benjamin realizes its the same damn gun he was mugged with, which was returned to its owner in a disabled state. To this end he disarms the old man, and reveals that its the other guy who likely offed his son. The killer later dies, leaving the old man without a reason to live anymore because that totally makes sense. He bemoans the fact that he can't cook either. You get no props for guessing where this is going: Cooking lessons. Thus the webcomic ends by name-checking itself.
This is when TS stopped giving a fuck about the webcomic and just went "Fuck it, I'mma wrap this shit up real quick!"
There are a few epilogue pages, showing various events without much dialogue or anything - basically just wrapping up loose character arcs with single-page comics, not giving us any real context to how the events came to be. The only two real surprises is that Gina, the religious woman, ends up dating the old man whose kid died, and that Lily ends up falling for the smoothie hippy and even merging their businesses - the last one would legit have been rather fun/interesting to see unfold, because how the fuck that worked out is beyond me, though the way they're drawn they do make a cute couple. Amazing what actually drawing a smile will do for a character, but fuck actually spending comic pages to actually show us what really happened, because actual story-telling clearly isn't something TS likes to do very much.
The art is serviceable. It's done in a very cartoony style, with stylized humans - but you're never in doubt about what expression or emotion they're supposed to be conveying. Sure, the faces are somewhat same-face-ish, but every character design is unique enough that you're never in doubt of who you're looking at.
It all seems to be mainly done as vector art, which allows for some easy copy-pasting every now and then, but for a slice of life comic it seems very non-offensive as a lot of it is just characters talking to each other. The art also improves from start to finish, mainly in the introduction of better shading and the faces becoming a bit more expressive, all things one would expect from a 1000 page comic run.
On a plus for the art, the TS seems quite capable of drawing different body types quite consistently - from tall and gangly to short and stocky. There's very little to nitpick here - at worst TS could be accused of failing to use his art for visual storytelling very much, though that tangent ties perfectly into the next section because boy does TS have so much stuff he wants to tell us... so much more than what he can fit into the webcomic, or what's even relevant to fit into the webcomic.
Well, if you look at the webcomic you'll quickly notice that at the bottom of each page there is a small blog post. Sometimes its nothing, but quite often its the author's commentary on his own webcomic.
The reason this is worthy of mention in this review is that Tailsteak repeatedly puts information in the blog that 100% should have been featured in the webcomic, like in-depth information about a character's mental state or logical reasoning. In epic displays of failing at "show don't tell" Tailsteak puts such information in the blog, while other times we get completely irrelevant factoids like how the nympho character was partially inspired by a furry porn comic. Most of the blog posts are utterly irrelevant in and of themselves to the comic, but its TS's built-in commentary track to the webcomic, and boy does it cast his comics in a strange light, because there is no doubt that you're supposed to read both the webcomic AND the blog to get the intended experience here.
We get TL:DR musings on the deeper meaning of spin the bottle or rants about him not liking guns or his fascination with BDSM or explanations of obscure biblical references in the webcomic. Or random shit about bananas and God, or just the straight up existential horror of Abrahamic religions where he compares it to Lovecraft's mythos. Or where he talks about his definition of utopia in fiction. How about a bit on whether LGBT people have a 'responsibility' to help get/force their partners out of the closet? And of course a weaksauce argument AGAINST polyamory, which he of course rejects out of hand just the same because you can't have an SJW comic that is against shit like that. How about him going on about how people writing ship-fics based on the two main characters from Zootopia are wrong because he doesn't like the idea of a normal guy dating a cop, because as we've clearly established TS doesn't like cops. Fucking hell.
Oh and apparently Tailsteak thinks that haggling over a price is morally wrong, with one of the longest blog posts in the webcomic detailing a shitload of topics on why haggling is wrongbadfun, oh and the same blog post has TS state that he thinks it ok for adults to beg for sex.
But hey, when you've got deep thoughts about when its ok to deny someone your business or that we shouldn't be upset that the webcomic is shitting all over the cops for the simple reason that its just the characters who don't like the police, because its totally not TS's own opinions put on display, despite him admitting to that very fact in a later blog, what do you expect?. This is all SJW musings. Similarly, there's a blog where he talks about how he dislikes the term heterosexual, and prefers the term gynosexual, because being straight is so 20th century, amirite?.
The best/worst blog post would arguably having to be the one where TS says that he thinks his webcomic is fairly realistic.
This reviewer has seen this so many times before. Good webcartoonists who end up putting their personal politics and opinions before actual good storytelling. This webcomic isn't any different... and yet it is, because the SJW stuff is spaced out pretty evenly between legit good/acceptable slice of life content that can make you laugh, or show us character development. Be it Ellen fessing up to her old roomie that she accidentally ruined the roomie's mom's old scarf, or the time she adopted a pet hedgehog only to later run it over with her office chair. All of this is for the most part good. It might even make you laugh - the D&D games, the adventures in cooking or boardgames - all of that works pretty well.
The problem comes with all the SJW bullshit in the webcomic:
Musings on gay culture VS homosexuality, open straight up misandry with an acompanying blog post that notes that not all man on woman sex is rape, just most of it, talking about the virtue of polyamory and "compersion", completely unrealistic conversation about homophobia, painfully forced conversations about "healthy body shapes" , made-up sexualities, strange self-hating dialogue , idiotic conversations that see the main character accused of racism for the most contrived reasons because we gotta hate on the white man, shitting on religion because the only thing you should believe in is... whatever. Asking people if they are asexual, shitting on pickup artists because wamenz are queens. Riffing on anti-abortion activists. Talkin about ethical cannibalism. An obligatory "driving while black" bit which of course turns fucktarded because fuck homophobic police, and fuck realistic dialogue.
How about TS straight up saying that he, first up, considers it patriarchal for a man to do nice things to a woman to gain her affection, and secondly says he doesn't like that concept. No really. How about a BDSM sequence initially presented as gay bashing, which somehow turns into a really angry and awkward conversation about guy-on-guy blowjob rape?. Presenting prison for murderers as a bad thing. This makes even less sense when he a few pages later goes on about how he thinks all people can change - he's clearly not heard of a "correctional facility". Benjamin declaring himself to be gynosexual. Casual conversations between two identical twin sisters on why being polyamorous is normal and where it begins, or the two realising that their younger brother is the spawn of their mother's live-in boyfriend who totally isn't just an uncle. Or that one time Nympho's black lover (who becomes good friends with Benjamin) tries to defend him on an online forum and is accused of not really being black IRL. Perhaps some casual conversation about women wearing men's clothes undermining the patriarchy? Some anti-capitalist boardgaming?.
A true gem is late in the webcomic when TS straight up says that the the only good cop character, to him, is an ex-cop, because that BLM-style police-hate that TS has throughout the webcomic is just so damn pervasive. That the ex-cop character ultimately doesn't want to be a cop anymore just feeds into that SJW fantasy: the idea of talking a cop out of being a cop. How very SJW like. How about some good ol' bitching about the fact that the Dirty Harry movies got sequels, because cops are bad M'kay?
Also at one point Tailsteak straight up tells us bullshit about why women shave their legs and how it started - It's been done for ages, though that may simply be because he doesn't know any better himself.
Look, the problem with all these things is that if it was only three or four of them being in the webcomic, then you could chalk it up to small parts of the webcomic just not being as good as the rest. Problem is that these things are spread evenly through the whole webcomic, from painfully forced conversations that sound like they're written by aliens, to all the casual conversations about the virtues of polyamory, to all the comics that feature characters contorting themselves verbally into knots to not use the term heterosexual - or the manlet main character who's ability to assert himself seems to be inversely proportional to whether he's talking to a woman or not.
It's death by a thousand cuts - and the webcomic does indeed suffer from it. Nothing can rip you out of your suspension of disbelief, like a sudden comic page where the topic of ethical cannibalism is floated. The main cast of characters, while strange and quirky™, can be seen as written plausibly: The shy religious girl who's high standards makes it difficult for her to find a boyfriend, or the slob gamer-girl who works IT, or even the nympho chick with her three lovers. I can buy that. Sure, they're Strange and Quirky™, but I can buy it.
but then there is... Lily.
The primary problem with Lily as a character is that she's written as a villain - absolutely no doubt about that. If Benjamin is the main character, and Ellen is the "just shut up and kiss her you idiot" love interest, then Lily was without a doubt made as an antagonist who's only purpose in the webcomic is to stop the two from getting together, the kind of villain you have to expose for her social manipulation and intimidation, the kind of bully you gather your allies to confront and shut down.
Now, this is a problem, because that's not how TS portrays her in the webcomic. Instead she's just one of the friends, with some Strange and Quirky™ opinions and attitudes. That's at least how her friends react to and treat her, because despite knowing her for years they don't seem to know what her deal is. It simply doesn't add up, because shit like that is very much so something you'd ask into IRL. The way she's written you'd think she's one bad PMS rage from turning into a serial killer who hunts down men, then castrates and kills them. Girl is psychotic.
The hints aren't exactly subtle either: She automatically thinks men want to rape her, or how in the blog here we learn that she openly dislikes women and hates men and thinks civilization is a lie. Other characters in the comic do call her misandry out for being fucking weird and creepy, but she just ignores that. Oh and she gets offended when she learns that Benjamin read her techno-utopia erotia, but didn't have the common cutesy to masturbate to any of it, because how fucking dare he. Basically Lily is a fictional radfem version of Jay Naylor, because her MO is the exact same: Using porn to draw in fans, then push one's personal politics on them.
Say it with me kids: Girl's got issues.
Still, the freakiest detail we learn is that Lily thinks that sexual satisfaction is not a matter of orgasm or companionship, but instead a matter of control over others. Upon hearing shit like that, you have to wonder how many homeless people she's got chained up in the basement.
Now, as noted in the end of the story and plot section, then we are ultimately do get some backstory to Lily to explain her fucked up state of mind - however, its weaksauce as fuck, and throughout the webcomic in the blog posts TS repeatedly backs Lily up. The problem is that if she's supposed to be a sympathetic villain with cruel motives that you none the less can understand and even sympathize with, then we damn well need that information early on in the webcomic, not towards the very end. This is bad writing at its very worst: We're supposed to accept her pathological hatred of men outright without questioning it, and then later nod to the weaksauce backstory that explains why she acts like that - but it just doesn't add up. Being dragged around to child pageants does not explain developing a psychotic hatred of human on human intimacy - though the worst part is IMO that we see her actually dating and even dating a guy in the epilogue... as if 'resolving' her character in two pages makes sense, because that shit totally doesn't go against everything in her character, right?
It's called "Show, don't tell" - and yet we're just told that that shit happened, we're not shown how it develops and matures - and its because of stuff like that, that this webcomic's writing is terrible the moment you actually start to think about it.
TS writes that he's married to Miss Mab and has kv1nna as his live-in girlfriend. This makes sense once you learn that Miss Mab recently came out as asexual. This also helps explain the nympomaniac character in the webcomic. What doesn't help, is that kv1nna has made comic pages like this which reveal deeply disturbing TMI shit about her health and hygiene, but also possibly explains why the nymphomaniac character was so skinny and focused so much on health checkups. It seems that TS really wants to have sex with a woman who isn't against sex, fat and/or diseased - which honestly isn't that unreasonable a desire. Then again he's a self-declared pansexual and polyamourous - and in that same comic he confirms that his married 'wife' is supposedly asexual and agender.
The term "A cry for help" comes to mind - especially with comic blogs like this one which contains the following:
If Jamie is my ego, Max is my id and Ellen is my superego, then Lily is my masculine self-hatred.
Lily is the criticizing, nagging, scolding voice in the back of my head, loudest during my darker periods of guilt and despair; the one holding up mental images of stalkers, flashers, serial killers, date rapists, wife-beating drunks and the more exotically irredeemable perverts, saying These are all men. You are male. Therefore, this is you.
We all have one of those, right?
I would be afraid to meet this man IRL - because for someone who seems to hate what he is that much, then it probably wouldn't take much to make him snap one day.
Tailsteak is basically admitting that not only are all the main characters in the comic various flavors of self-inserts of different aspects of himself, but he... hates himself? At least part of him does. This man is basically the ultimate stereotype of the self-hating white liberal who thinks that white guilt is a virtue, that all men are potential future rapists, that all women are queens, that all cops are villains, that being just hetero is boring and so on. Tumblr SJWs wish they were this deranged.
I mean, he's married to a woman who doesn't like/want sex and doesn't think she has a gender and has a live-in girlfriend who doesn't mind talking about her nasty ass boils. This webcomic comes off as a cry for help from a man who seeks normalcy but has no idea what normal is, as well escapist fantasy from a man who comes off as so whipped, so self-hating, that the only aggressive male characters he seems able to write are bland stereotypical thugs, cops or stuffy bureaucrats. At the same time he has to near constantly virtue signal, yet he still yearns for a normal relationship.
And this is his webcomic. Upon finishing this review, this reviewer no longer feels a dislike for the webcomic - but instead feels a great amount of pity for the man who made it.
...of course, after wrapping up this webcomic he went and started a new webcomic set in a future utopia where everyone gets universal basic income, centered around a supremely whiny trans-woman and a second class citizen prostitute robot-woman. Totally not inspired by Lily's robot-fucking utopia. No, it's much worse... and from day one it was agreed on the BWW forum that that webcomic would end up on the wiki for sure. Basically after finishing this webcomic, Tailsteak stopped trying to subtle and went full SJW, though sadly only updating that new webcomic once a week. No pity here, this thing was wiki material from page one.