Sly Cooper: Thief Of Virtue
|Original review author:||kyrtuck|
|Webcomic name:||Sly Cooper: Thief of Virtue (makes Sly sound like a rapist don't it?)|
|Start Date:||May 27, 2013|
|End Date:||January 8, 2017|
|Genre:||Fan fiction, Action, Drama, Furry|
|Defining Flaw:||Subpar art and overly emotional, sometimes illogical plot.|
A BWW member brought up a list of "webcomics to be riffed" from God Damn Webcomics and this was among them. I was curious to see how a Sly Cooper fan fic read, having played two of the games myself.
This started out just okay, but the "Winter Storm" arc is about where the author took his series down the swamps of crappy emo furry OC drama, increasingly unconvincing furry OC Marty Sueness, furry OC cameos, increasing usage of photo backgrounds, "Torus is a meany head" nonsense, and clumsy attempts at social commentary.
We start off with Sly Cooper's two BFFs Murray and Bentley getting beat up by some new gang of criminals who also stole the Cooper family treasure hoard. Couldn't light a candle to Kane Island's security system, huh? So, like any good Sly Cooper game, the trio goes around the world, tackling different crime bosses to retrieve fractions of the treasure. They bust a Lion boxer thug at Miami with a little help from Dmitri. They whoop a so-called ninja crane at Japan with a little help from Panda King. Sly also comes across some magic crystal that temporarily makes him stronger with a "scary" feral rage. There's two more of them in this series.
When the Sly Cooper gang tackles the third crimeboss, a rich penguin, they are betrayed by a Squirrel woman thief named Ice who is actually an Interpol agent, who sends their butts into jail. However, they don't stay there long, thanks to a obscenely powerful mercenary who tries to kill them only to die from a silly equipment malfunction. The Sly Cooper gang then infiltrates a party held by the fourth crimeboss, a sexy snake woman, and Carmelita and her partner finally get more involved only to bring up some cringey love triangle BS. Their boss Torus is mad that they're aiding the Cooper gang, forcing Carmelita and her partner to hang out with the gang further. In Africa our heroes take on a buff snow leopard who's an arms dealer and warlord in Africa, and he's actually really badass. Meanwhile, Torus is being tyrannical and overstepping boundaries...supposedly. More on that in the Writing section. So, the heroes finally beat the snow leopard, Interpol recaptures Sly, but Carmelita and her partner rejoin.
The "meany weany" Interpol bullies "force" Sly Cooper to face Drake, the main mastermind behind it all in Switzerland...which is what he'd do anyways. Drake tells Sly his backstory which involves Drake's cop dad getting killed by Clockwerk, Sly taking away Drake's chance for revenge by killing Clockwerk first, and somehow this made Drake want to TAKE OVA DA WHIRLD!!! Sly refuses to join, runs, then gets injured falling down a big badly drawn mountain. Then he's visited once more by his ghost Dad (who's appeared a few times earlier in this webcomic, but never in the games) who instead of talking cryptically once again, gives the final bit of Drake's story where he tried to adopt Drake before getting killed by Clockwerk.
In the final climax, Drake uses his three magic rage crystals to transform into a big black werewolf (except he was already a wolf) and slaps around Sly, Ice, and Torus. Since no one can best Drake in combat, Sly instead teams up with the ghosts of his Dad and Drake's dad to overcome Drake with the power of positive feelings or some mush. Drake, a changed wolf, destroys the rage crystals, and essentially everyone lives happily ever after la di da.
Davidson started off this webcomic with somewhat serviceable cell shading, mixed with awful bright, distracting backgrounds. Later on he takes up blurry digital shading with weak contrast in the colors. The result being something like Ned's "sexy muscular" body being not so impressive in execution. The solid black lines also clash horribly with the soft blurry shading. To make this look real good and natural, try not doing the outlines at all, or make them colored to match the interior of the object or figure. Or, stick with the solid black outlines and go with cel shading instead, like the Sly Cooper franchise's official artwork does.
The expressions are generally good and convey what they need to. Sometimes the action poses are okay, but other times they are stiff and underwhelming, like this one scene which should be a dynamic exciting chase, but Carmelita looks like she's just walking, and she doesn't even have the shock pistol she threatens to use. The author never tries to do anything with angles, everything is just viewed head on, which can look a little underwhelming, like when Drake's werewolf transformation is complete. The special effects look bad early on, but get pretty good towards the end.
The author does have a pretty good eye for keeping up a variety of page layouts, and he later on does very well using non-rectangular panels now and then. His making only a few select things colored in the otherwise grayscale flashback scenes was a nice idea. His tendency to do floating heads, not such a good idea.
As for Connor Davidson's character designs for the newcomers...the birds and reptiles are fitting enough for their respective species, but all the mammals are dull, looking like every other furry artist's work on the internet, with big anime eyes, perfect athletic human bodies with animal heads and tails attached. The characters in Sly Cooper are more cartoony, and various, not perfect humans at all. Octavio had a short compact body and a long face. Neyla has somewhat thick forearms and a squashed little face. Muggshot has big bulldog face flaps, gigantic arms and chest, thin legs, and gets around like a gorilla. Le Paradox has a big head, thin arms, short legs, and a belly slightly larger than his chest. Jean Bison has a hunched posture with huge arms, short legs, big forehead and small eyes. Sly Cooper himself has big shaggy thighs, with skinny little calves.
Sure, Connor Davidson can shout his right to artistic license all he wants, but what good does it do him if he just blends in with other artists, rather than stand out?
By far, the worse thing the author does with his art is using real life photographs in place of actually drawing backgrounds. It is mind boggingly bad and childish looking.
Connor, you will never get any good at backgrounds, buildings or landscapes if you don't practice on them like you do with figures. Quit the lazy shit with inserting photos.
The author seems to have it in his head that most criminals are actually kind compassionate people, and the police gotta act like friendly little squeak toys that bow out to their whims. For starters, take a look at how Carmelita is used. She's practically Sly's doormat, making Interpol give back Sly his family treasure hoard that they confiscated at the end. See, the problem with that is that the Cooper family treasure is 100% stolen from other people, so Sly in fact has no legal right to it. Sly certainly should not get mad when Interpol didn't just fork it over to him earlier. But okay, the plot of Sly Cooper 3 had also fudged it up with legal property law, so at least there's precedent for that.
How about we bring up her letting the Sly Cooper gang use Police intel and her own credit card! Or how, unlike in the games, Carmelita makes no effort at all to catch him. She practically joins his gang at the end despite claiming that she still is, and always will be a policewoman. This is pretty much the same relationship between Drake's and Sly's fathers, except there, they simply admire each other's skills or some crap.
Yes, the Coopers are friendly, charismatic, honorable thieves who mostly steal from other criminals because its more challenging. But that does not mean the law should just lie down and become best buddies with them!
Or how about Sly for some reason acting shocked that Drake be handcuffed, as if Drake's last minute change of heart somehow nullifies everything he did before now. And its not just Sly and Drake either. Go see the Characters section to see Lady Venom and Vick receive no consequences for their actions.
On a much related note, I must bring up is the weak attempts at painting Interpol director Dominic Torus as a "harsh extremist". Carmelita, like the good little Sly apologist that she's become claims that he's been denied his rights. But just look at Sly! He's not getting beaten by guards, he's not being sodomized by inmates, he's not starved or tortured, he's not naked in a tundra, he's not sleeping in his own excrement. He gets to play with a ball in what looks like a fairly humane looking prison cell.
Anyway, back to Torus, he's somehow supposed to be bad for "militarizing" Interpol. But all we really see are beefy cops in riot gear. In the games Interpol was already pretty much militarized, with its using gorilla mercenaries with rocket launchers to combat Octavio's mob. Or using tanks and planes against the Contessa's forces. There's mentions of riots, but we don't ever see cops brutalizing any civilians. We do see them just stand and stare at protestors. Heck, in one page we even see them save innocent civilians form Warlords trying to rob or abduct them. Torus himself is even at the front lines, putting himself at risk when he doesn't have to!
The second time Sly's gang is captured, Torus actually makes a deal with them and puts them to work against a worse criminal, which is just what Carmelita suggested he do earlier. Yet Bentley and Drake act as if Torus is some sort of slave driver for doing this.
Lastly, Torus tries to threaten Vick, a captured criminal, and Drake's number two guy, to get intel out of him. Torus does not beat Vick or poke him with sharp implements or water board him. Torus just menacingly holds a crystal he does not know how to use. Yet the protagonists act like he's about to disembowel a baby. Vick even films this as if its a horrific deed that will somehow discredit Interpol all the way. Why is Torus a bull when it feels like everyone else in the world is giving him cattle feces?
So, in addition to various characters muttering abstractly about traditions and morals and the right to compliment women on their looks, the author also tries to insert bits of "social commentary". They tend to be ham fisted, the worse instance was where he derails Drake's backstory flashback to show some woman throw a big loud conniption over having a door being opened for her.
As for the ghosts of the fathers, I can kind of buy that Drake couldn't see them earlier because he wasn't open to them. But what about Sly? He wasn't clouded with rage like Drake was, so why couldn't Sly see his Dad earlier? There's so many dire times in the games where he could've appeared to Sly for guidance or support.
Sly's one on one fight against Clockwerk, the killer of thousands of Cooper family members? Nope. Sly being betrayed and captured by Neyla and stuck in the Contessa's abusive prison? Nope. Clockla crippling Sly's BFF Bentley for life? Nope. Sly being crushed by a creation of Dr. M, who used to work with Dad Cooper? Nope. Cooper family history being erased by the son of Dad Cooper's rival? Nope. Sly stuck all alone in ancient Egypt? Nope.
But Sly messes with some rage crystals that Cooper Dad's cop friend gave to Drake as a birthday present? Dad Cooper is all over that shit, flimsy ghost rules be damned!
Also, why is Sly suddenly so triggered by being reminded of Clockwerk? Yes Clockwerk was a terrifying, immortal, hate-driven, nigh-invincible killing machine. But Sly acted rather calm and collected in his fight where he killed Clockwerk in the first game. Years have passed since then in which Sly has grown and developed, so what's the deal? Sly even had Panda King, a former team mate of Clockwerk, on his team for a few weeks in the third game. I suspect that maybe Connor Davidson doesn't know how emotions work.
The humor is not much better with random pop culture references like Muppet Treasure Island, or cameos of random characters from Oscar the Grouch to Felicia from Darkstalkers. The worst case was when almost half a page was dedicated to Shadow the-where's-that-damn-fourth-chaos-emerald-Hedgehog discussing the What Does The Fox Say? song with Vick. However I did enjoy some of the humor early in the series that referenced elements in the game, such as the guards all looking alike, the flimsy disguises, or the flashlight guards being crazy unobservant. There were a few little bits later on that made me laugh too.
Lastly, Davidson does not know how to make his villains look competent as criminals. In the games they protected their bases with not only guards, but an assortment of traps and obstacles which the Cooper gang had to spend side jobs disarming. Sometimes a villain could be unexpectedly clever and turn the tables on them, like Jean Bison seeing past the main trio's disguises and knocking them out, or LeFwee sending Sly into a bomb trap. But in this webcomic, their security rarely goes beyond just telling their idiot guards "go get 'em". And for a badguy to get the upper hand in this webcomic, Bentley, the smart one of the Cooper gang, has to hold the Idiot Ball something fierce. In Japan he leaves his post just because its cold, allowing a dumb thug to mess with his computer. Bentley isn't even suspicious when he sees that his drink is gone. Bentley later sees his computer is acting up, but does nothing to repair or replace it until another guy hacks him horribly. When Bentley sees his own wheelchair leaking and leaving a trial, he does nothing to fix it, allowing the dumb guards to find them. Or finally, Bentley is for some reason so bothered by Vick getting interrogated by Torus that he bursts in, allowing Vick to escape. The running gag of "Bentley sucks at drawing" does not help.
On the plus side, the overall story is well paced, and there is a good sense of escalation. There's nice little touches like with the verbal tics and accents of a few characters.
I've read and reread this webcomic. I've thought long and hard about Drake's role and I've come to a not so startling conclusion. Drake isn't simply a worthy foe to Sly Cooper with sympathetic backstory. No, Drake is a blackhole of contrived, furry Marty Stu magnificence which this entire fictional universe must bow down to. Watch as Drake teleports in and out of scenes willy-nilly with a perpetual grin plastered on his face, weaving his webs of manipulation that people like master planner Bentley or Director Torus, or arms dealing warlord Colonel Zahn are all just dumb blind pawns in.
Marvel in open-mouthed awe as Drake's super de dooper flashy powers, which have no explanation other than he was born with them, can not only effortlessly whoop Murray and Ice but randomly repair Sly's cane. I bet he could walk on water too. All hail the miraculous furry Messiah Drake! And when this wolf goes extra-wolf, you'd better run because now he's the motherfucking Juggernaut, beyotch!
But Drake is more than just unbeatable brains and brawn. Look at those sculpted muscles that he can just will into existence! Oops, I mean, uh...he's a deep thoughtful person because he saves the butt of his buddy Vick, and has a friendly chat with Ned for no reason. And lets not forget his "tender romance" with his scaly vore monster. He even sends her dumb disposable goons to eat, truly a match made in furry heaven! And sometimes after this series plot, the author has them sex up their own little abomination against nature.
Drake must also have the saddest little story ever, that oh so incidentally gives him a connection with Clockwerk and Sly Cooper. Drake had it so rough growing up on the streets, which we see not even a glimpse of, where Vick was a true companion, much like Bentley and Murray were to Sly, after they fled their orphanage. How rough!
All this leads up to da gweatest face heel turn evers, where Drake is all chained up by negative feelings, looking like such a sad little victim, he may as well have been crucified. But Drake breaks through it not because he's enriched by his Dad, Sly, Vick, or Lady Venom, but because he's his own man who can forge his own path. Screw loving relationships-personal ego and willpower are tops! But that's not all, Drake is now so damn humble and reformed, he lets himself get handcuffed and taken away. Oh, the indignity of it! Especially since Drake gets to have an hours long talk with Sly. Oh that Interpol, they don't mess around, they're so professional. Alas, that little display was made meaningless when Vick busts out Drake who now has his cocky grin back on his muzzle, because he doesn't have to pay any comeuppance for his actions at all. Holy Vriska Serket, what a "great" character and plot.
Drake is last seen wandering the Alaskan wilderness spiritually cleansing himself, but without any real atonement or helping of others.
A useless little crud of a furry OC whose initial purpose was to make up a weakass love triangle between him and Sly both being in love with Carmelita. Being an OC, he's already at weak standing compared to Sly and Carmelita who've had lots of interactions and development in the four games. Ned's claim to Carmelita is further weakened by his general inability to do anything but stand around with his sad little puppy dog eyes. He doesn't bravely save her life or rescue her in some mission. He doesn't make any significant romantic gesture on their down time. He doesn't share any kind of past with her beyond a few months ago. Yet somehow, Drake and Lady Venom feels for Ned, despite the latter having just eaten him.
Ned does get slightly more badass when he gains a grappling claw glove, but later ditches it because it didn't agree with his saintly little morals somehow. Speaking of saintly little morals, the sappy self righteous speech he gives to Torus somehow qualifies Ned enough to become the new director of Interpol. Ned, who never took command in any situation, never had to manage a large organization's resources or manpower, never had to coordinate the unique skills of several individuals and direct them to a common goal. Nope, "his heart's in the right place" was somehow all he needed. And he gets himself some nameless reward object girlfriend at the end.
As explained in great detail in the writing section, Dominic being a tyrannical extremist director was poorly done. Apparently he's supposed to be a "bad boss" to Carmelita and Ned, even though he does compliment them at least once, and those two didn't really do anything competent on their own in this webcomic beyond threelittle side missions that were played more for laughs than anything.
What could have been expanded on instead was his corrupt side. He seriously considers taking a bribe from Caesar Derouque. He also used to have a bad gambling habit that led to Clockwerk killing Sly's dad. Though that makes me wonder why Torus himself didn't act on that info if he was more intent on bringing Dad Cooper to justice than Drake's dad was.
I was tempted to think that Torus was a ripoff of Chief Bogo from Zootopia, but it might be the other way around, since this webcomic's creation predates Zootopia's by a few years.
Drake's cop dad who is clearly the most awesomest dad ever just because he respects women's beauty, holds doors open for them, continues being a dad after Drake's mom left for no explained reason, and is BFFs with Dad Cooper.
However, I gotta seriously question Jack's thought process when he gave Drake a jeweled medallion that he knows absolutely nothing about, as a birthday present. Plus Jack said he confiscated that thing from Dad Cooper...so shouldn't it be in a police evidence locker, or returned to whoever the rightful owner was? And if actually capturing Dad Cooper is a "low priority" for Jack, then why even waste time chasing him at all? Why not use that time tackling the actual dangerous criminals who hurt innocent people?
Perhaps Jack's name was meant to be Jackass Lupus.
I speculate that perhaps Jack and dad Cooper were meant to be gay on each other. It would make so much more sense. Why would Jack refuse to give away the location of the Coopers, let himself be killed, leave Drake as an orphan, just because he got a little chummy with dad Cooper? We also never see Sly's mom, so we are left with little reason to believe that Jack and dad Cooper are straight.
Drake's number two guy that exists as someone for Drake to talk to and show off little hints of Drake's softer sympathetic side, which had also been done with Lady Venom and Ned, so meh. Referencing What Does The Fox Say? is a running gag for Vick, so also, meh. I admit it is sweet to see a young Vick witness Drake mourning over his dead dad, and the two of them must've grown up together and supported each other, like Sly, Bentley and Murray did. But this does not excuse his ending where Vick takes over Drake's criminal organization, with no sense of change or redemption. Why are we supposed to root for this!? Unless Vick is now just poser criminal who doesn't do nay actual crimes and just struts about in bars, wearing fancy clothes and grabbing some hot furry pussy? Yeah, that's probably it, isn't it.
The former Interpol Director back when drake and Sly's dads were alive, he's since retired as director, but remains active as a judge....not sure how that works. Bubo is meant to be a benevolent reasonable authority figure to call out Torus for overstepping lines and taking things too far However he comes across more as a sappy dotard who when director, put no rein on his detectives at all, allowing Jack to be BFFs with a thief, and Torus to go corrupt with a gambling addiction. And now as judge, looks to be more concerned with protocol and red tape than stopping criminals or helping innocents. His personal bias in a case he presides over doesn't help either.
A sexy snake actress who destroys Brazilian Rainforests, and gets away with it scot-free because she's a sexy snake actress. She can hypnotize victims with a stare, though she did nothing to all those hypnotized party guests, so what was the point there?
But of course the most notable thing about her (or perhaps this entire webcomic) is her swallowing people whole, giving her a damn big vore belly. Davidson has claimed that he had "never heard of vore" when originally drawing these scenes. And his defenses were that "it's enticing in other ways" (not helping) and that "they're animals", except that none of the characters in any of the Sly Cooper games ever ate other sapient animals, nor ever threatened to. And while cobras can in fact unhinge their jaw and swallow larger prey whole, they are not native to South America, and they only extend their hoods out when feeling threatened. So Davidson is being irritatingly selective with what he wants to be true to.
Lady Venom also has hot offscreen furry sex with Drake, because this comic should have been named "Drake Lupus: Marty Stu of Virtue". Lady Venom is eventually beaten in a stupid cat fight with Carmelita, but her being jailed causes people to riot for some reason. At the end, she's released, back to being a famous celebrity like she was before, despite no sign of change or reform from her scary murderous ways. Booooooooo!
Now this guy was my favorite of all the OCs here just because he's so damn badass. He's a warlord and arms dealer in the Congo, and Davidson actually writes him with justice. Zahn does a quick and pragmatic disposal of his share of the Cooper hoard. He lays on the hurt to an unruly customer that tried to pull a gun on him. Zahn freaking snaps Sly's iconic cane in half, beats Sly even when he's using a rage crystal. disses Sly for trying to use someone else's power, and relying on his family legacy, while boasting about being a self-made man! And unlike other characters, Zahn is actually seen working out so his strength doesn't look like shallow contrivance.
However, his base security doesn't go much farther beyond goons, goons in tanks, and one huge cannon. At the end, after an unspecified time in jail, Zahn becomes a harsh fitness trainer and possibly working himself into a position for revenge....which I don't mind since he's the best-written villain of this series!
This character is very easy to understand. He's rich. His parents were rich. He somehow causes oil-rich pollution. He lays claim to some of the Cooper family riches. Drake recruits Caesar with the promise of more riches. He attempts to bribe authorities with riches. He richly assumes he can own some random wild animal. And he's rich enough to buy a big squid mech. Oh, and he has a little verbal tick of saying "nnn!", which I thought was a nice touch.
The author really dropped the ball with this one. As a ninja, Kre could've had some potential to make a really cool foil to Sly. Kre could've had extra clever traps taking Sly off guard. He could've infiltrated and sabotaged Sly's camp with Bentley and Murray not even detecting Kre's presence. He could've remained hidden until the last minute, making some double do his business. But no, what Kre's ninja skills amount to in this webcomic instead, are: spotting Sly but doing nothing about it, sneaking up on one of his own minions, which another minion could also do threatening some thug with a knife, spotting Sly in a barrel and again doing nothing about it, and throwing badly aimed ninja stars at Sly's face. That's it.
His main contribution to Drake's plot was shipping, but Kre had to use one of Drake's crystals to make his ship invisible...so why did Drake approach Kre if any 'ol ship captain would do? Kre ends up doing Tai Chi with Panda King.
A scarred lion who was once a boxer, now a gangsta in Miami. Uses a steroid to briefly become stronger, which actually fits well with the Sly Cooper series, what with the second game having a narcotic spice that made Murray act crazy. Not much else to say except that he fills the role of starter boss well. At the end, he forms a singing duo with Dmitri.
A somewhat pointless character who overall only serves as a pseudo-Neyla, ie, a hot chick who betrays the Cooper gang, then resurfaces as somebody to fight at the end, and die a Disney death. Ice and Snow were cybernetically enhanced as experimental super soldiers for Interpol. Interestingly, Ice and Snow are the only named characters to actually die.
A psycho joke spewing mercenary who went insane from his cybernetic implants. He's strong enough to wipe the floor with everyone he comes across until Sly uses one of the rage crystals. Then Snow's laser gun explodes because it was an unstable prototype and Snow dies. Lord forbid Sly actually kill anyone directly when under the influence of a scary dangerous artifact, that might challenge the protagonist's morality or something.
Snow's attack is meaningless. He doesn't kill or cripple any of the named characters. The bad guys he frees get recaptured before they can even say or do anything. Snow does not advance the plot except as an excuse to use the rage crystal and unhinge Ice a little. Supposedly his attack made people lose trust in Interpol...which would have more weight to it if Snow had attacked civilians instead of just cops, or the imprisoned villains had escaped, or even if Snow had killed more than just one cop onscreen.
And apparently Snow is supposed to be an "albino" despite his hair and fur having pigmentation.
Connor Davidson has steadily worked on this webcomic as a labor of love for almost four years until finishing it, and I respect him a good deal for seeing it through. In the DeviantArt commentary he does come across as a bit of a dumb brat, flip flopping between bragging about what a deep awesome story teller he is, and defending dumb cameos or references as being "just for fun". He's also made numerous comics, single images, and written short stories to augment the lore of Thief of Virtue.
Thanks to this comic's Lady Venom scenes, Davidson landed himself a few furry vore commissions. Most recently Davidson got himself into designing some surprisingly non-furry characters for a fantasy story.
Sly Cooper: Thief of Virtue irritated me both as a fan of the games and a lover of comics as a storytelling medium. Connor Davidson, I've heard you say you were going to make more big comic projects, so if you're listening, don't let the praise of your growing fanbase make you lazy and complacent. Keep challenging yourself with the things you're not comfortable with drawing, like landscapes or buildings. You have a few good ideas. Do more Showing along with Telling, with things we're supposed to feel bad for, like Drake growing up on the streets, or things we're supposed to despise, like Torus taking away freedoms of civilians. Show or at least mention someone like Ned working out so his randomly appearing abs don't feel like an asspull. Give us reasons to feel like characters earned their happy endings beyond simply "they're sexy and I like them". Let a main villain like Drake slip up now and then so he's not boringly invincible. Have a supposedly skilled character like Master Kre use his skills for something plot related instead of just gags. Don't insert characters unless you think they really add something to the plot. Snow and Ice were almost useless, and taking them out wouldn't have changed the plot very much. And do not pull the "this is by no means a serious comic" excuse, not after all the time and effort you've spent on this project.