|Original review author:||webkilla - Original review written between January 2018 and August 2019|
|Webcomic names:||Quantum Vibe|
|Author:||Scott Bieser for all the art, and most of the writing. Two different colorists have been with the comic through the years.|
|Start Date:||Jan 3. 2011|
|End Date:||Ongoing, but vol. 3 ended May 2015, vol. 4 ended July 2015, vol. 5 ended November 2017, vol. 6 ended august 2019|
|Genre:||Science Fiction, politics|
|Defining Flaw:||Poorly done genre mix. This is big L Libertarian/An-cap Sci-Fi and it's not shy of reminding you of that, except it NEVER shows you why it's better than anything else...|
Just like The Probability Broach then this comic is quite well drawn, and its clear that Scott isn't a bad artist. Also unlike the Probability Broach then in this he's a lot better at not drawing the bad guys as grotesque villains, but 'merely' as villains and letting their actions speak for them instead.
Volume 1-3 is fairly good sci-fi, with not too much overt political bullshit (but lordy its still there) - but after that the comic takes a steep nose-dive, which keeps it from earning a higher rating.
All main characters have extreme plot-armor. Anything bad that happens to them, including decapitation, is ultimately fixed with little to no permanent issues due to magic sci-fi bullshit.
The setting itself is somewhat interesting, being original sci-fi.
There are worse political propaganda comics on this wiki, and its less insane than The Probability Broach or Escape From Terra, but not for a lack of trying - likely more from the guy making it having seen the others and (sometimes) learning from their mistakes.
This wiki has several reviews from comics that had come out of "Big Head Press" - the libertarian/An-Cap online media publisher. To this end it was only a question of time before this comic came on the chopping block. On the plus, then it seems to be the least offensive of all the comics there...
But ok, Scott Bieser, the guy who writes and draws the comic, also drew The Probability Broach - but very important: He did not write the Prob Broach. This comic seems to basically be the artist going "I can do better than that" and then... well... trying to do so. Though, it doesn't take much to go from batshit fantasy-land political propaganda to slightly less batshit political propaganda, and make no mistake: All of the Quantum Vibe stories are political propaganda.
When volume three ended, we got a nice wrap-up to a four and a half year long story. The story that came afterwards, volume 4, took a huge dip in the quality of the writing - putting political commentary far above good story progression. This will be explained further in the story and plot section for the various story arcs - lets just say that when the comic started featuring 2015 youtubers, it jumped the shark really fucking hard.
This is also why this review will cover the comic’s writing before going into story and plot:
Rule one of a comic with a political agenda is that you can't really 'debate' the politics in a review of that comic – it will always be one-sided, that’s a given. Any kind of propaganda comic will invariably strawman its opposition, and present the things it does like in the best way possible.
What it can be rated on is: 1) whether it does that at the cost of the comic and its story – and 2) As with The Probability Broach it can be rated on how far-fetched the utopian vision/straw-maning of its opposition it presents is.
For volume 1 through 3, the initial story arc, then these two issues don’t actually come up that often – but they are there. There are a few HIGHLY politically charged elements here and there, mainly around the main character's visit to earth's moon – because we’re shown that the moon's government is horribly corrupt and its people xenophobic and merely told that their economy in ruins, while the main characters are of course civilized, sophisticated and always able to conjure up endless amounts of money.
Still, the comic generally avoids large walls of text when it tries to give an exposition dump. An example of this when the two main characters leave Mercury and then the plot stops so we can watch along with the girl as we witness an exposition dump/documentary about "belt-apes" who live on Earth's moon. Here we first learn that on Luna people talk like retarded ten-year olds who dabble in leet-speak - which doesn't just get annoying fast, it gets really annoying really fast. We also see the first example of how pants-on-head retarded Luna's government and judicial system apparently - Basically it is Probability Broach levels of "if they are this stupid, why aren't they all dead yet?". Suffice to say, the writing around the entire visit to Luna, Earth’s moon, is generally the lowest point in the writing of the three first volumes.
Still, it’s overall a descent sci-fi story about a young girl getting mixed up with a mad scientist, a coming of age story of sorts where she grows a lot as a character - and is repeatedly shown to break down crying after having to kill people even when it’s always in self-defense. There's a good level of suspense in most of the story, and you do have a few "oh shit" moments where you think the good guys might really be in trouble.
Basically the main character girl is flawed, quite often shown as vulnerable and having to run for it - especially during the Luna visit where elf-girl ends up in prison for a brief stint. The problem is more with the mad scientist, who almost always seems to have the right answers – or at least has enough plot-armor and wits to come up with a plan to get out of even the worst of situations, except one time, but even then he ultimately gets saved by the rest of the cast so it’s all good.
In this sense the comic has a very Atlas Shrugged feel to it – a smart scientist is trying to come up with something new, and evil corporate overlords are trying to steal his invention, or kidnap him so he can be forced to finish the invention for them - but there's more than enough original content that you never notice the connection unless a joker like this reviewer points it out.
However, in volume 4 the quality of the writing takes a dive. From random references to YouTube personalities which will only end up dating the comic, to a story arc that centers entirely on fighting the AI-regime on a robo-socialist planet purely because the 'good guys' don't like their politics, to the fact that we are simply told that socialism = bad, without ever being shown how or why it’s bad in the comic. As noted previously, then this basically falls under straw-manning the opposition for a propaganda comic - but in this case it makes the message of the story come across as incredibly ham-fisted, especially considering the lack of any real resolution to the story, after elf-girl takes control of the robot-regime. This sadly becomes a trend for the rest of the comic:
It's a question of show, don't tell. It wouldn't have been difficult to show in the comic how the robots reject random citizen's requests to start new businesses or introduce new technology. It would have been very easy to use visual storytelling to get the message across - and it is done to a very limited extent, like the bit about how the robots give car-privileges to whoever they favor the most and whatnot, but even that bit of information is given to us in an exposition dump, not shown to us. Thus the comic tips its hand and reveals that the cartoonist has prioritized his political message over making a good comic with a story that makes sense in this volume, and he's barely even doing that because at no point are we shown that the author's own preferred form of techno-utopia is better than the one's the robots are giving people on that planet. It's shit writing down the level of "No these guys are bad and my guys are good, because I say so, done"
Volume five suffered in the sense that it wasn't really original sci-fi anymore. Here Scott reduced the comic to star-trek fan-fiction, mixed with internet memes – making the writing of this volume the least original so far. The villains were villains because we were told so, hardly ever shown why, and the "gods" who were "gaming" introduced an element of the supernatural to the comic setting that basically throws all logic out the window, and replaces it with internet meme magic. I mean, for fuck's sake – making Kek a character? Ya that won’t date the comic horribly, or confuse your readers.
It basically came across as if Scott had run out of original ideas at this point. Volume 4, while ham-fisted, is at least original in using an obscure but very sci-fi form of cyber-socialism to set up the big bad - but volume five was just star trek fan-fiction with an alien race that had butts for faces and twice the normal amount of tits, who are evil space communists, though even that is something we're only ever told, never shown, because again: "No these guys are bad and my guys are good, because I say so, done"
The writing in Volume 6 is a strange mixed bag: The plot goes back to the original ancap-utopia setting, but it contains some oddly conflicting messages. The main character for the arc is a supporting character from Volume 4, but it delves into a strange mix up where it seems as if Scott can’t quite decide if his an-cap utopia setting is all that much of a utopia or not. It’s supposed to be a detective/spy thriller kind of story – but it really grates against the utopian vision set up in previous story arcs. The details of this will be gone over in the story and plot section. Of course the "true" an-cap jokers, and the evil villains who want to force government and democracy on the an-cap utopia are vile horrible, people, because: "No these guys are bad and my guys are good, because I say so, done"
In conclusion for the writing: It's surprisingly good when Scott can ignore the politics and just come up with original sci-fi. It's ham-fisted as hell when he fails to do so, and by volume 5 its just star trek fan-fiction and internet memes. Volume 6 barely has any new or original characters, using random celebrity or politician cameos so frequently it hurts. A sad decline – but it just seems to indicate that Scott has been running out of ideas, and even worse so that Scott can't ever seem to bother showing us exactly how his guys are better than the bad guys.
Story and Plot
Overall the setting of the comic starts in a future around the year 2500, where humanity has spread throughout the solar system - and yet the various human colonies and planets seem to poses wildly different levels of technology, government type and what have you. You know, generic sci-fi setting #29874324.
Vol 1-3: Quantum Vibe
For a simple TL:DR: Mad scientist recruits elf-girl, from the utopian an-cap L-5 space city, reveals that he is one of her 11 or so daddies (no really) and they tour around the solar system doing SCIENCE while various bad guys try to stop them because bad guys want the SCIENCE. In the end its revealed that the mad scientist is old as dirt and somehow managed to nuke the middle east at one point, but then he becomes a robot and everyone lived happily ever after because nobody can really die, because SCIENCE and now also TELEPORTATION.
And just to be real: That’s actually not a bad story. The problem is all the shit that Scott sneaks in between the more interesting story beats – and this review will focus on all those bad elements.
Because of this the reviewer has to stress: Volume 1 through 3 is actually a worthwhile read, despite the really stupid parts.
Now on to the stupid: As mentioned earlier, then much of the comic has some very Atlas Shrugged style narratives to it. There are overarching narratives pushing an-cap/Libertarian politics, narratives repeating that any kind of government is bad, that big corporate business is bad and so on. The biggest example of this in volume 1-3 is during the mad scientist and girl’s visit to Luna, Earth’s moon. As noted in the writing section, then this part of the story is by far the least subtle in its politics.
Beyond the ‘documentary flashback’ mentioned earlier, then the stupidity of the Luna visit arc is high and constant from start to finish: At first we're also introduced to Luna's use of fiat currency, you see, so far in the story we've seen people talking about "silgrams" and "augrams" - literally grams of silver and gold, you know the wet dream of an-caps and whatnot - never mind that doing that wouldn't make any sense if asteroid mining is a thing, which it featured directly in the comic.
Now you're not allowed to convert the Luna money "Miltons" back into gram-money because lol evil guberment. Can you smell the heavy-handed political commentary? We are of course also told that the Milton is suffering from massive inflation - not shown, just told - and get a not at all subtle jab at the US TSA border control invasive scans and enhanced screenings, which leads to the elf-girl being instructed to disarm herself because you're not allowed to carry around weapons on Luna. This of course terrifies the elf-girl, but as we can see from the not at all subtle way the TSA agent is drawn, then this elf-girl clearly has nothing to fear because big luna brother wants to be watching.
We also learn that its actually cheaper to pay the fine for being caught with a weapon, than getting a permit - we also learn on the same page that L-5 an-cap utopia city somehow doesn't have "lower classes" of people, but the moon apparently does, and the government doesn't want it armed, because that's one of the favorite libertarian/an-cap talking points. Conversely, the an-cap utopia is a perfect place where everyone is somehow rich and has the right to bear arms, but nobody ever seems to shoot each other. Real subtle, right? No, sorry - this is the kind of utopia bullshit that can really kill a propaganda comic, because its just so far out compared to the rest of the setting.
The next head-desk inducing bit of stupidity is when the girl is set up with some drugs planted on her and she goes to jail. Now, with Luna's judicial system previously established to be pants-on-head retarded, elf-girl's treatment is not exactly kind or fair. As a side note, this is the first time we see her ears confirming that "elf girl" isn't exactly wrong. While in the slammer elf-girl makes friends with a belt-ape we previously saw get wrong-fully convicted during that documentary flashback. The ape later becomes a regular supporting character who joins along for the adventure as muscle.
Now, at this point in the story the mad scientist is out of the picture due to plot, but then we reach an absolutely mind-numbingly stupid part of the plot:
A random lawyer shows up, claiming to be sent by the space utopia city legal service but elf-girl hadn't been able to contact anyone yet about being in jail. Also with his smile, he totally doesn't look like a bad guy - no, not at all. Grade A subtlety going on here. He informs her that she was actually out for three days following the beating the cops gave her and then he tries to ask her about what mad scientist is working on. We also see the cops listening in on her convo with the lawyer, because of course they would.
So we have a double whammy of a dubious lawyer who doesn’t seem to care about her as much as ferreting out the scientist’s secrets, and police breaking the law. Now, what would you expect in a situation like this? You certainly wouldn’t expect Elf-girl hitting the prison library to simply google-search the lawyer, right? She instantly discovers that he's in the pockets of one of the mega-corps that are after her boss’s secrets - so much for the mystery of where he's from. It simply doesn’t make sense that a prison system so corrupt would give its prisoners free access to the internet… it is such a stupid and contrived solution.
This leads to the obvious in-court sequence where elf-girl rejects the fake lawyer and points out her lack of a phone call, because as luck would have it, then the bought-and-paid-for judge didn't get the case. It just seems to utterly contrived that everything suddenly solves itself – oh and the cops have of course been stalling, because apparently the planted drugs found on elf girl are 'missing' from evidence - this forces the prosecution to drop the charges. Remember what I said about plot-armor and nothing ever having any real consequences?
This effectively wraps up the arc of the main characters being on Luna, ending with one of their rich friends selling his shit, skipping town and in true Atlas Shrugged fashion this leads to an instant real estate crisis, because when the rich righteous folks leave bad things obviously have to happen. As with the Probability Broach, its stuff like this which truly strains the credulity of the comic. At least in Atlas Shrugged, the book, we learned that this was due to active acts of sabotage from the people leaving - but in this comic? No this just shit just seems to happen as if by magic. Lazy writing I say!
Of other noteworthy bits of stupidity in the story, then during another interplanetary journey from A to B the ship that the trio is on gets captured by space pirates. Initially they’re talking politics to some corporate jokers where we learn that the L-5 space station colony somehow has "governance" but not really a government? An-cap logic at its finest, including a claim that fiat currency is somehow 'phony money'.
The real fun starts when space pirates show up and effortlessly defeat the ship's counter-measures effortlessly, taking over the ship. Now, the first hint that there's something... off... is when the pirate captain is introduced like some kind of hero – because anyone striking a blow against corporate bigwigs is obviously a good guy, right?
So what do the pirates do? They have kangaroo courts! Owning stock in a mega-corp? You're guilty! Sold children into slavery? Guilty! Beat your wife? Guilty! Be a mega-corp toadie? Guilty! – the straw-men here are just lined up and knocked down, as if it’s not possible to work for a mega-corp without being evil. Oh and extra fun: Two of the poor souls who get kangaroo-courted have a striking resemblance to two RL politicians, both of which it seems Scott got a hate-boner for. Hi there Rand Paul and Mike Pompeo, I wonder what Scott's going to do to you two since you let the Tea Partiers down?
Say it with me kids: Subtle.
Let’s just say that the sentences are rather gory and... of course the mad scientist is friends with the pirate captain!. You see, it turns out that the space pirates are 'freedom fighters' trying to free the people living on the moons of Jupiter from corporate rule. And yes, elf girl ends up banging the pirate captain because that's pretty much what she does to every male good guy character we've met so far.
...oh and how do space pirate freedom fighters communicate? Why, via an encrypted blockchain complete with a not at all veiled reference to bitcoin. The sad thing is that this entire piracy arc just seems entirely out of left field – and once it’s over it has no bearing on the remainder of the plot. It does nothing for the story, other than show what Scott thinks about kangaroo courts and a couple of politicians he didn't like at the time. But ok, the story wraps up with the scientist and elf-girl arriving where his fiancé live - though we do get a bit of foreshadowing that there's more to come. There our scientist finally meets up with his fiance but after a night together the trap is sprung!
Turns out that the mad doc is from our time and did some naughty things. We then get a massive exposition dump/history lesson where we basically learn that our mad scientist was once a normie who married an Iranian girl, but Iranian daddy didn't like that his daughter had married a non-believer so they all had to die. This made our scientist mad to the point that he wanted to destroy Islam, which he then did by making friends with Israel and then hacking their nukes and launching them on Mecha.
The tonal whip-lash that the story gives you here is enough to wring the neck of the shark that just got jumped. Because with the scientist busted, it sounds like the end of the story, then... not quite. Elf-girl and a fem-bot they rescued earlier runs off to finish the science project, and scientist gets shot down while on his way to Earth for prison. As for finishing the project then everything seems ready when the duo shows up at the secret workshop. Also elf-girl ends up banging the fem-bot, because she fucks everything, as previously mentioned.
Finally finishing the project, it turns out that they've invented functional interstellar teleportation technology. Now what? Why, you rescue the scientist with it! Turns out he was captured by the Chinese mega-corp. Because of course.
Cue a rescue operation, they escape and regroup at the L-5 station, and get interrogated by its rather oddly dressed leaders, which includes a furry. Here its pointed out that a teleportation drive is a bit dangerous - you know, teleportation of nukes and stuff, but scientist is now scientist-bot comes and gives some notes to elf-girl, who develops a teleport-shield a few pages later that solves that issue. Convenient, right? That kicks off a grand expansion of human space with people teleporting all over the galaxy. That's the end of that story: As far as we know, all survivors lived happily ever after.
That’s volume 1 through 3 – well, the weirder bits of it. Nothing bad ever happens permanently to any of the main character – sure, some supporting characters, villains and random goons get killed, but with the comic confirming very early on that you can just upload your brain into a robot body and become an immortal cyborg. It takes a lot of the drama out of the story once you realize this, though Scott does somewhat counter this by having the scientist guy be captured during the final bit of the story. Still, the problem is that with such a solution to the story it retroactively takes nearly all the stakes out of the story. If captured or killed, just restore an old backup and ‘resurrect’ in a new robot body? Hell, it seems that this was actually what Scott was thinking when he wrote Volume 5, but more about that later.
Vol 4: Venus 23
This volume signals the true downfall of the comic. If you thought the Luna arc in vol 1-3 was stupid, then here we have a volume made of nothing but that kind of stupid.
The very short TL:DR version of this volume, is that it’s about a “Venus project” which is a sci-fi utopia idea of a place where technology does all the work, robots take care of people, and we all live in harmony with nature as effective wards of the robot-state. Scott, being a Libertarian, of course had to show why that wouldn’t work. So... this entire story arc is a piss-take on a real-life post-socialist post-capitalist post-scarcity concept of a utopia, where the good guys ultimately defeat the evil robots and take over.
I can't stress this enough: This entire story is basically Scott taking a big an-cap shit on a socialist techno-utopia, with Scott going "Nope, my an-cap techno-utopia is far better! Look at how these strawmen are falling before me at the slightest touch!"
It should be noted that this part in the comic also signals the departure of one Zeke Bieser, who apparently helped on the writing in the first three volumes. Now, this is purely speculation, but it really smells like Zeke kept Scott's political BS in check, because... well, this volume is about Scott's own techno-utopia taking a big shit on another techno-utopia. This only gets worse in the following volumes.
The actual story begins with the main character with a massive chin having a nightmare where his dad gets eaten by a giant robot fish which turns out to be rather topical, since apparently the world he lives on is run by robots - robots who seem to have a metal hate-boner for the mega-corporations from the previous storyline. Oh gee, I wonder what that will lead to?
It leads to lunch, where we get a hint that there's something wrong with wonder-chin's father and an art class where the students are taught that they just have to put effort into their art, and it doesn't matter if the end result is crap because here everyone gets a pat on the head and a participation ribbon.
On his way home, wonder-chin and his aspie buddy get stuck on a tram due to a power failure but then he has to dodge patrolling robots to get home instead of waiting on the train. The power failure on the train is a good show-don’t-tell moment to demonstrate the apparent resource shortages on the planet, but the patrolling robots seem needlessly tyrannical in comparison – but Scott has to hammer home that the government there is tyrannical, so… ya.
Later wonder-chin and kid aspie sneak off to an underground party where what looks like a mob-boss wants to get wonder-chin and kid-aspie (who's good with technology) to help him hijack unused cars and set up a black market car rental - because the robot state apparently controls who gets cars. That’s a hell of a lot of setup to show us that the government hands out car privileges and that Scott doesn’t like such an idea.
...and after the duo leaves, we see the mob boss get a call from someone who looks rather familiar – This heralds the arrival of the actual plot. Indeed, after that we see some AIs talking about some kind of medical procedure that didn't go right - who might that be? Will we care? Does it matter for the plot? Not really. But questions we don't need answers to and the plot will have to wait, because it’s time for wonder-chin to show the class his history report where we get a cheeky wall-o-text exposition dump on what happened since volume 1-3:
Basically shit happened because faults with the anti-teleport shields messed up some techno-babble, which somehow killed off inter-stellar travel, isolating all new colonies, including the world of Zytomonde where the story is taking place now. But... wonder-chin claims that's a lie, and that Zytomonde was isolated for political reasons, but robot-teacher straight up gags him with a robot tentacle-arm and hauls wonder-chin off for telling "untruths".
This entire screed doesn’t make any sense on several levels: If the society is supposed to be so heavily regulated and censored, how the fuck did wonder-chin get that information to begin with? Secondly, this completely breaks the rule of show-don’t-tell. Wonder-chin is then interrogated by the robo-gestapo for thought-crime and trying to undermine his classmates faith in the social structure. Still, he gets off without any punishment because his classmates delete his heretical essay from his tablet so there’s no evidence of wrong-think, and he returns home to find that his father has returned from prison, only he's also been lobotomized because reasons.
So, we have an oppressive robot regime that lobotomizes dissidents, re-writes history and and intimidates people who question it. Subtle.
During a later meet-up with the mob-boss, wonder-chin is introduced to elf-girl which leaves us a lot more questions than answers - but it seems that she's building a resistance movement. Later, back in class, we are taught that Zytomonde doesn't just have a planned economy, but a planned ecology in another stupid example of being told not shown. After that, during another meetup with the mob-guy, wonder-chin hands over a car-hacking device that aspie-lad made but they are being spied upon. Oh dear.
Next day we learn that aspie-lad has run away from home and has hidden with some rebels of some kind. At this point in the story we start to meet all the cameos at the rebels:
Karen Straughan - a YouTube-famous MRA - who we later learn is actually a fem-bot in disguise, not the same fem-bot from the previous story though
Diana Davison - another MRA who even uses the comic's illustrations of her in videos see around 25 seconds into the vid. In the comic her character is called "Diana Martelli". This character becomes a recurring character in later volumes.
Sargon Of Akkad - they even call the character Sargon, and the comic uses a character based on how his online avatar looks - he only shows up briefly.
Now why on earth would an an-cap comic be featuring Men’s Rights Activists and left-leaning anti-SJWs is beyond this reviewer, but it seriously makes it difficult to take the comic seriously - it also dates the comic horribly, and makes for confusing visuals since the cameos look out of place... at least to anyone who knows who these people are, such as this reviewer.
Anywho, wonder-chin is unwittingly leading a daisy chain of spies because he's looking for aspie-lad. One of his class-mates who might be a state informant is following him, and another of his class-mates who might be a state informant is following her. Who is the real spy? Who is on the up and up? Who knows! Who cares!?
But then the rebel hideout that aspie-lad is in gets raided and upon escape aspie-lad and wonder-chin meet up and meet elf-girl who leads them to a new hideout that doesn't have any kind of security system so the jokers following wonder-chin walk right in - resulting in a bit of a fight, and a hurried escape to elf-girl's space ship.
Now we also learn that the class-mate girl who followed wonder-chin who wasn't a spy is a conspiracy nut, but that's quickly forgotten as wonder-chin, aspie-lad and conspiracy-girl are wowed by the fancy tech that elf-girl has. Upon arriving at elf-girl's home, the three gawk around and spot a painting featuring mad scientist, fem-bot and elf-girl and apparently this reminds the three that they had been taught in school that elf-girl was a villain who "inflicted capitalism on the universe".
Say it with me kids: Subtle.
After a lot of back and forth, conspiracy-girl being paranoid about shit, we finally get a proper dump of exposition on the true past of Zytomonde: it was supposed to be a literal Venus Project based on the RL ramblings of a dude who wanted to create a planned economy/ecology utopia, where robots would do all the work and humanity would just party hard all day. Anyway, in true an-com fashion we are only told that this idea of a utopia, not based on a free market economy, is stupid and that all other attempts to make similar cyber-utopias have ended with disaster. We're also told (not shown) that Zytomonde's population is in decline and that the very rebels that elf-girl have assembled are probably the smartest minds that Zytomonde currently have to offer. Why oppress people like that? To maintain the 'sustainability' oriented society instead of trying to advance things which might upset the balance, because we are simply told that all welfare states are bad.
Say it with me again kids: Real subtle.
"The bad guys are bad because they believe in things and do things that are just always bad, because we say they're bad - no, we're not going to show you"
This is where the Probability Broach also floundered: The utopia being presented sounds way too good to be true, and we’re supposed to buy into the moronic strawmen for all the bad stuff that Scott doesn't like, without being shown evidence of why these things are not good. It’s crap like this which makes the comic fall apart completely.
Now, to move the plot along, the solution is obvious: Down with the evil robo-socialists. (Well, the true real question is why elf-girl hadn't done that years ago)
Elf-girl says that won’t work, since people like their gilded cages - she also admits to being the cause of wonder-chin's dad getting lobotomized, because he was a former rebel working for her. So while elf-girl gears up for war, conspiracy girl googles random shit and discovers Alex Jones IN SPACE and that is just as stupid as you can imagine.
Yes. Space-Spanish speaking Space-Alex Jones.
And before you can say "Mary Sue", conspiracy-girl - who came from a world with tech that is basically lagging behind 300 years technologically - has sniffed out a conspiracy where elf-girl lives, which was the cause of Space-Alex Jones's recent death. Because of course.
So while the rest of the gang and elf-girl run off to Zytomonde to fight for freedom conspiracy-girl wants to explore the space city she is in, but wont get a brain-implant to properly interface with the super tech there. So, what to do? well, the the house AI just gives her a mini-spaceship that folds up into a suitcase and just demands that she signs a document that she wont violate the NAP (Non-Aggression Principle, more an-cap jargon) - no need for a drivers license, insurance, or anything else.
Makes perfect sense when you're just arrived the day before on from a technologically retarded world, and have no personal wealth or means to compensate anyone in case of an accident. This is another example of how the utopia presented just seems too damn perfect and stupid to work.
Thus the story splits in two, with the gang en route to Zytomonde where we learn that robo-socialism straight up makes you stupid because welfare states pamper people too much so they don't learn. Again, we’re told this – not shown this.
Back in "Oz" - the space-city that elf-girl lives in, we manage see to conspiracy-girl about to commit an atrocious bit of social faux-pas: She was going to go out into the city without a weapon on her person.
That's right folks, we are at Escape From Terra levels of stupid. The real irony is that we get some rather sensible questions towards how silly such a social requirement is by conspiracy-girl, but as is well known among an-cap propaganda comics, then you cannot argue against walking around with an arsenal, so she gets a wrist-mounted death ray and then flies off to seek out the studio of Datawars.
Meanwhile the rest of the gang is about to bust out some captive rebels where they find them being lobotomized. Then back in Oz, Conspiracy-girl is already being a better private dick than the private dick she seeks out info from, because of course. But she gets ignored because she's a nobody with no real evidence.
meanwhile the gang is in a shoot-out but teleports away with the captive rebels. They then also teleport out some more captives. Elf-girl then graciously gives all the liberated rebels two and half hours to decide if they want to go back to Zytomonde as rebels, or immigrate to her space city. No rush? Back in Oz, Conspiracy-girl finds the late Not-Alex Jones's co-host but she isn't open to ideas that he was murdered and totally isn't being really shady about it. After lunch conspiracy-girl ends up being stalked by a VERY shady character.
With the gang we get elf-girl waxing about how planned economies and collectivism are always bad because we gotta have some political monologuing because she has her feels. Elf-girl then teleports straight to the building housing the AI controlling Zytomonde - this goes roughly as badly as you can imagine, but also begs the question of WHY SHE DIDN’T DO THIS TO BEGIN WITH!?!?!! Why not just teleport an EMP bomb in there? Fucking hell this plot just makes no sense.
Back in Oz, the mysterious gift from the strange stalker turns out to be statist propaganda and seems to be evidence of a conspiracy to - GASP - try to set up an actual government in the an-cap space city! We are of course told that this is very bad, because obviously. Conspiracy-girl then gets a call from the late not-Alex Jones' co-host, she wants to meet with conspiracy girl, alone. Faster than you can Admiral Ackbar this gets her captured and surprise-surprise, the co-host is a bad guy but when co-host tries to kill her the mysterious shady stranger rescues her - it was the private dick from earlier! And he offers her a job, as a private dick working for him.
Back on Zytomonde, Elf-girl is brain-fighting in the matrix, so much that her RL head lights on fire because reasons. This is of course not really something you survive. Back on her space-ship aspie-kid detects this, since he got a cyber-implant so he plans to attack the AI head on, but... elf-girl is now fem-bot elf-girl because her mind took over the Zytomonde AI during the fight - because we've already seen one main character in the comic "die" only to come back as a robot. Tension? What tension?
Oh and her former fem-bot ally turned traitor? She mysteriously dies while in prison, with no known back-ups - But let's not bother asking how that happened until volume 6. Also conspiracy-girl got to torture the shit out of evil co-host with a metal-spiked glove. Because an-cap society is humane and civilized, amirite?
Oh and wonder-chin's dad got his brain restored, but he thinks the new fem-bot elf-girl is icky because he's been hating on robots all his life. Somehow elf-girl thinks that's unfair and calls him an idiot, walks off and meets with mad scientist and Murphy from the vol. 1-3 story, because how dare this no-body reject the perfect an-cap robot elf-girl and her ideological perfection!?.
The end. No really! There's no additional resolution for Zytomonde or the rebels - nothing, no explanation how her taking over the place worked out or in any way helped the lives of anyone. How will AI-elf-girl handle Zytomonde? Will she turn into her own personal slave-state? Will she preach the glory of an-cappy goodness to the people there? For all the preachy bullshit about how her way of life is better, we never see it actually implemented, hell we don't even see a "several years later" bit showing the planet fixed or anything. This is incredibly lazy storytelling, showing just how conceited Scott is with his politics here: Doesn't even care to show how much he is right, as long as he gets to show his ideological opponents (or a really shitty strawman of them) getting defeated.
But who cares! Because instead we get...
Vol 5: Assimulation
Star Trek fan-fiction. This is star trek fan-fiction, pure and simple.
Forgive me if this is sounds familiar: This entire story is basically Scott taking a big an-cap shit on the Star Trek techno-utopia, with Scott going "Nope, my an-cap techno-utopia is far better! Look at how these strawmen are falling before me at the slightest touch!"
But ok: The plot...
Remember the idea of just going full cyborg and being immortal via your back-ups, and how that takes all the danger and suspense out of a story? This is used, repeatedly, in the story. We’re introduced to a character straight up called a ‘manic pixie dream girl’- that’s right, this is sci-fi as written by TV Tropes. Anyway, the short version is that the mad scientist cyborg and the fem-bot from vol 1-3 are playing space explorer, poorly, keep dying, and get a bit tired of respawning back home again. Their solution isn’t to stop space exploring, it’s to space explore some more but this time they bring pixie-girl. Shit happens, they meet ass-faced space commies, not-Borg, living internet memes and an older version of the mad scientist cyborg who turned genocidal because the space commies killed an earlier version of fem-bot. Mad mad scientist cyborg is defeated and bob's your uncle.
Ok, did any of that sound just a little silly? Let’s take it from the top:
We're told that despite centuries of teleportation-based space exploration then nobody has ever found any technologically advanced aliens. We were first told this briefly back in volume 4, but we apparently needed a reminder. So of course the next thing that happens is that they find a strange alien galaxy on the very next page, at one of the hot spots for space-travel they suddenly detected. They discover that they have radio. Basically, they find technologically advanced aliens, doing nothing different than what people had already been doing for 300 years.
"We've never found any other alien civilizations during out hundreds of years of search... oh what's that over there? Another alien civilization? Neat!"
Anywho, they approach the aliens and make contact: So once they get to an inhabited planet they quickly get an alien ship approaching and first contact is made, face to butt-face. Communication is done via fart-noises. It should be noted that the fart-face aliens seem to have uniforms that look a lot like Star Trek starfleet uniforms.
It’s at this point that the bullshit truly starts rolling: For example, we learn that the assliens are entirely heterosexual and that’s of course boring and not cool. We also learn that all their seniors officers are female, and all their low-rank officers and grunts are males. We are straight up told that this is because their females are smarter, while their males are stronger, so they divide their society up entirely like that. Also the asslien females have two sets of boobs.
We later also get a taste of the not-star trek federation "for the greater public good" logic in a big ol' exposition dump where we're told things like how the assliens don't execute people and whatnot - a fact that scientist cyborg reacts with scorn to, because of course. So basically sci-bot doesn’t like the assliens, because they’re vile militaristic and gyno-dominant statists which obviously makes them untrustworthy to the an-cap people.
At this point anyone who isn't brain-damaged should be able to predict what will happen next: The assliens, being a very poorly made parody of the star trek federation - only evil, of course - will eventually try to steal the super-tech from the good guys, because the star trek federation is obviously nothing but evil space commies. That's it, that's basically the entire premise of this story arc... or is it? (It is, for a large part, sans the bullshit in the end of it)
We also get this gem: We are told that our 'heroes' live in what they call a "Propertarian Anarchy" with an Egalitarian Justice System. Can you say an-cap buzzword word-salad? Fucking hell, not even the Probability Broach was this bad - but this is volume 5... Methinks that Scott got tired of holding back and just unleashed all the stupid. Remember what I said about all this being so Scott could claim that his techno-utopia is better than the Star-trek one? Ya it's stuff like this that just kills the comic.
Anyway, to make a long story short, we’re very quickly given an exposition dump about the other alien races at play: the cat-like not-Klingons, the not-gorn, the space-insects and the not-Borg. Basically out of five alien races, all of them are knock-offs of star trek aliens or factions. Originality? What’s that? Never heard of it.
But ok, the three try run away from the assliens, but pixie girl gets left behind by accident and gets tossed in jail, meeting a not-Klingon cat guy, while the two cyborgs hook up with what is totally not a knock-off of a Klingon bird-of-prey – though its full of those not-gorn lizard aliens. It seems that Scott’s ability to mix things up with regard to Star Trek lore is oddly limited.
Anywho – pixie-girl of course ends up escaping, by hacking the asslien prison system with her cyberware and we see the lizards actually call the assliens 'commies', because who needs subtlety here?
This volume of the comic is looking an awful lot like the anti star trek story arc in RHJ’s space ranger webcomic only with the star trek faction shown as militaristic commies, instead of naïve and ineffective. Both arcs have in common that the cartoonist clearly doesn’t like Star Trek. Meanwhile the two bots that are building the lizards a new star-drive, but then run into what totally isn't a knock-off Borg cube - Guess who? The not-Borg teleport the bots out from the lizards and then they meet AN OLD ROBOT!.
We learn that sci-bot 2 identifies as the old mad scientist's identity - you know, the mad scientist who started a nuclear apocalypse. Apparently fem-bot 2 kicked the bucket at some point earlier, making him go all genocidal again Oh and in case it wasn't obvious: sci-bot 2 is in control of the not-Borg, building up their forces to wipe out the bug to avenge fem-bot 2.
Then sci-bot calls bullshit, pointing out how much this is like the star trek Borg. As if Scott is calling bullshit on his own work… Oh and the not-Borg also capture pixie-girl and cat-Klingon, injecting her with mind-control nanites but she has super cyber-tech in her head already! This is when shit goes off the fucking deep end, because now we’re introduced to a frog-dude in a pool called “Kek” all of a sudden.
Oh yes, screw sci-fi by TV Tropes, this is sci-fi via 4chan memes now.
Apparently Kek is a straight up god of chaos, and he's manifested a reality for him and pixie-girl to interact in. I wish I was kidding. He introduces her to the gang - which includes a floating testicle, a purple-looking guy and The Dude from Big Lebowski.
I need to know what kind of acid Scott took when he wrote this. Or maybe he just took a 72 hour binge on 9gag... who knows. While the Kek and The Dude 'references' are painfully obvious, then this reviewer can't really pin down the testicle-with-a-hat or the purple guy, but it's obvious that they're references to something, because they look far too specifically random not to be some kind of cameos. Please state in the Discussion if you know where they're from.
Then we get the most ridiculous exposition dump ever: these jokers are apparently 'gamers', but also gods, who spotted Earth and saw some Star Trek re-runs - and then they figured they'd pick a galaxy, tweak the laws of physics there to make warp drives actually work (which is why the teleporters stopped working) and then make a real-life simulation of star trek.
They also name-drop the story-arc in this - unironically calling it an "assimulation" The morality of what they're doing - uplifting aliens and making them fight each other - is never touched upon or questioned. Now we get the glorious stupid reason why they want to talk to pixie-girl: Genocidal sci-bot is fucking up their game by having taken over the not-Borg and they want her to fix it. Also the dude says he cannot abide that they're messing up their game, because memes.
This is the first time pixie-girl hears of the old sci-bot that took over the not-Borg, but she quickly figures out his genocidal intent
Oh and the gamer gods want pixie-girl to fix the game by becoming the not-Borg queen. By some miracly of plot convenience, she agrees - which leads to a rather amusing reunion with fem-bot and sci-bot where she fails her role and breaks character as the queen the instant she meets her friends and then she tells them everything
Cue some in-matrix mind battles, the good guys win, end of story.
Holy shit that was stupid. I can’t even begin with explain how stupid and unoriginal this was… It was as if Scott had just gone “Hmm, what would happen if my characters dropped into a star trek AU where everyone else is an evil moron, oh and there’s also Q if he was spawned by 9gag” This volume is pure cancer, kill me now.
One possible 'explanation' for the whole "gamer god" bullshit is that Scott read Erfworld and thought it'd be fun to cram in some kind of "what if a game-piece became a player" concept, except just like in volume 4 after elf-girl took over the robo-socialist dictatorship, then we never get to see the results of this. We do not get to see how pixie-girl manages as the not-Borg queen. Never mind that the whole gamer gods concept introduces magic to a sci-fi comic, which fucks everything up.
Scott: King of not writing in a fucking proper ending to his shit!
Vol 6: Chateau Périlleux
At the time of this review being written this arc just finished – and while it’s really not worth reading, then it does demonstrate some strange inconsistencies in the comic setting, as if Scott hasn’t quite realized that he’s written himself into a corner with how he’s portrayed the space city of Oz as a techno utopia:
This story is 100% centered on paranoid-girl from Vol. 4 who now works for the private dick who saved her and its basically a murder mystery, mixed with a political conspiracy that is about as stupid as that of The Probability Broach.
The whole point is that its a "conspiracy" involving the biggest PMC in the setting and some other shady fuckers who want to perform the dastardly deed of... institute a democratic government in the anarchist techno-utopia. Oh the fiends. This comes off as roughly as ham-fisted as that other sci-fi webcomic where the bad guys are the evil evolutionists who are trying to prove that god isn't real. This is basically really fucking stupid the moment you stop and think about things.
But ok, aside from the basic story premise being stupid, then there are some serious fucking plot-holes that are opened up in this story arc:
The strange thing is that all the previous stories all included the supposedly incorruptible and totally nice "Smith & Holder" armed security company, which seems to be the defacto private police force of the space city, and it has some shady shit going on all of a sudden. That flies in the face of pretty much everything previously established in the comic about how its so perfect and peaceful – oh and course the paranoid girl from a techno-retarded society discovers all of this on her own because she’s such a fucking genius somehow.
Now Elf-bot wants the PI and paranoid-girl to investigate the murder of the traitor-bot who ended up siding with the robo-socialist regime from Vol. 4. Apparently she was killed while in custody, and her mind-backups were wiped. Now why would anyone have done that?
We meet a furry who looks like Huckleberry hound because who needs original characters, who tells the private dick to drop the case, genius girl barfs in her ship while eluding capture and comes home to find her place tossed and then the private dick gets captured. Next thing we know S&H goons show up and try to nab genius girl and from that point on the rest of the story is nothing but the good guys trying to find "the truth" while eluding capture - despite everything being really stupid.
The problem with this story is that it flies in the face of the established lore of the techno utopia that it’s supposed to take place in – if corruption and conspiracies on such a level could take place, conspiracies linked to the Venus 23 storyline, then everything we’ve been shown in the comic about how great that society is seems to fall apart. Sure, as a detective story it seems promising enough initially. The problem is that it would work a lot better with a main character where we aren't supposed to believe that she’s caught on to that much advanced technology so quickly that she's almost better at it that the natives.
The saddest part is that the "bad thing" that the villains are trying to do... it doesn't sound too bad - I mean, democracy, amirite? But hey, it's those evil statists at it again... and you can't be a good an-cap without making people who want an actual state and government into villains.
No scratch that - the sad thing is how this arc wraps up:
Detective girl goes to talk to a fucking conehead, because Scott has completely stopped coming up with original aliens or human subspecies. This doesn't pan out, and then our Mary Sue goes to talk to none other than not-Carmen Sandiego. After that some more stuff happens, two of the three stooges show up as descendants of the now robot elf-girl who are of course super scientists but also lol-random because of course, and they run into quantum-mechanic Stan Lee because Scott can't fucking stop cramming pointless cameos into his webcomics.
Oh and they run into Carmen Sandiego again, but she turns out to be a bad guy who sets detective girl and her butch bodyguard-lady up for an ambush, and then detective girl gets captured and interrogated by Justin Trudeau - because, say it with me kids: Scott likes to put politicians he doesn't like, into his comic as bad guys.
...and that's it. As far as detective Mary Sue's involvement in this story, that's it. Because everything that happens afterwards is essentially told to us in flashback after she's rescued by robot elf-girl and her mercenary army, because of course she gets rescued. If this story had made any kind of sense, then her getting captured and tortured should have been game over. She had no means of escape, only hanging from her shackles and pissing herself.
Fucking hell, the plot armor that Scott gives his main characters is the stuff of legend.
Anywho, robot elf-girl rescued detective Mary Sue, and during the trial of the bad guys detective Mary Sue of course overhears the bad guys complain that her detective abilities are 'unreal' - which makes sense, because when you have the power of plot armor… you get the idea. Ugh.
I don't know what volume 7 will contain, but I don't think it'll be better than volume 6... I think this comic is only going to suck even harder, with more pointless cameos, more RL politicians as bad guys, more plot-armor...
Update: Volume seven is so far Bieser drawing up a September 11 attack on his utopian space society, the terrorists being anti-capitalist social justice warriors? Let's just say that it sounds exactly as stupid as volume 6. This review will be updated again, probably once the volume has concluded.
The art is good. No really.
Too bad its reasonably often wasted on ugly caricatures of celebrities, politicians and other people or fucking internet memes that Scott crams into the comic. But overall, the comic is very well illustrated. There really isn't much to complain about here. Characters emote, stone-faced security guards never smirk, and you're never in doubt about what emotion a character is feeling. The blood, lasers, firearms and whatnot also work reasonably well - and boy does Scott like to design space ships.
If anything, then all the cameo and internet meme bullshit inserted into the comic looks... off at times - its not difficult to see that a reference picture was used for Stan Lee, making it not quite fit the rest of the body of that character. Still, that's minor nitpicking.
Scott Bieser has a wikipedia page for those curious. He illustrated but did not write The Probability Broach, and also illustrated another Libertarian/An-Cap bit of fiction called A Drug War Carol which is a pro-legalization comic using the Christmas Carol story - which in true an-cap fashion is behind a pay-wall after the first few pages.
Basically he's deep into right-wing Libertarian and an-cap politics, something that is reflected quite a lot in this comic.
Also: Fun fact, according to his wikipedo page then he used to be a computer game animator, but we're talking for ancient games like Battle Chess 4000 or stuff for the NES.
If volume 1-3 was a standalone comic, it wouldn't be bad enough to go on the wiki, despite its flaws - at least in the opinion of this reviewer, because it actually features some genuinely good sci-fi concepts and ideas. Volume 4? Oh that's wiki material, as is volume 5 since its nothing but Scott writing fan fiction where all his original characters beat up parodies of star trek characters and factions. Volume 6 is just as stupid, with the added fuckup that it screws up the lore of the comic that the an-cap utopia is... well... a utopia, plus it glorifies the Mary Sue detective girl who doesn't ends up getting captured and tortured, yet still somehow wins because an-caps always wins in the comic.
It's difficult to tell where things went wrong. Volume 1-3 was made in cooperation with one Zeke Bieser, probably Scott's brother or something. This seems to have reigned him in, but after that nothing seems to have been holding him back, leaving Scott to go full an-cap retard, abandoning good storytelling in favor of pissing about with his an-cap fairy tales. This is of course purely speculation, because this reviewer hasn't been able to identify who Zeke actually is, but it makes sense.
As with right-wing cartoonists like RHJ of Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger and The Probability Bomb 'fame', then its clear that Scott can write great original sci-fi. Some of his ideas work really well, and he knows how to pace a comic well, as well as keep people in suspense... as long as you forget that nobody important ever really dies because they can just become a robot, or some douche-ex-machina will swoop in, because in his comics the an-caps ALWAYS win, even when it looks like they've lost.
Scott has great potential - but its wasted because he repeatedly gives his political soapboxing higher priority than good storytelling, plus his odd habit of drawing RL politicians and individuals he don't like as villains into the comic, which just down right petty - or similarly giving cameos to things or people he like, which just completely fucks up the comic. I mean, fucking KEK!?!
- Quantum Vibe - the archive gives easy access to the various volumes
- The Probability Broach - another comic that Scott drew, but he didn't write, though it clearly shares a lot of similar sci-fi and political elements. It's safe to say that Scott lifted a ton of elements from this comic and used them in his own work, though he did refine and update a lot of it.
- Escape From Terra - a similar-themed an-cap sci-fi webcomic written by Scott Bieser, but illustrated by someone else. It's just as stupid, and has a review here.