My review of Basin Vale:
|Original review author:||Senior Salvador - March 28, 2018|
|Webcomic names:||Basin Vale|
|Start Date:||January 1, 2014|
|End Date:||September 20, 2015|
|Defining Flaw:||The writing fails to properly explain things while basically nothing meaningful happens in the plot.|
I used to frequent Hiveworks Comics. I would go there to find new webcomics to read. The majority were terrible with the comics being all style and no substance. One of these was Basin Vale. I forgot it for a while.
Upon joining Bad Webcomic Wikia, I started to think if there were any webcomics I thought deserved a page. Most of the terrible webcomics, while bad, weren’t really interesting enough to warrant a page. Then, I remembered Basin Vale.
The story is extremely bad at explaining things. The most egregious example is our main character’s motivation. According to the “About” page, Alessa wants to find her coven. This is not at all apparent in the comic, where she just wanders around some random backwater town. While this is the most blatant example, other key aspects are never explained such as the rules of vampirism and what time period the story takes place in among other things.
The dialogue is terrible. It is very stilted and feels unnatural. At first, I thought this was a deliberate because Alessa mentions how she forgot to interact with people. So, it would sense for her dialogue to come off as strange. However, the other characters also have unnatural dialogue. So, it seems like Alessa’s dialogue was an attempt to sound olde timey rather strange and unnatural.
Not helping is how wordy and redundant the dialogue can get. The most egregious example comes from the first fight between Alessa and Jade. Out of the eight dialogue balloons here, there is only one that is actually necessary: the one where Alessa explains she has mind control powers. While this is one of the most extreme examples, this is a recurring problem.
The art is the strongest aspect of the comic. It has a very stylized, cartoony look to it. However, I found it was generally easy on eyes and to follow. Personally, I very much enjoy the style. However, I can understand how it might turn some off people off.
An issue that arises is the panel out. Generally, the panel layout is component if nothing to write home about. However in the complex pages such as this one, it can be hard to follow what is going on thus requiring rereading the page several to properly understand the sequence of events.
The story starts with our protagonist, Alessa Wolfe, escaping from a tower. She accidentally drops a locket and stops to pick it up back up. This gives her pursuers enough time to catch up with her. However, she manages to escape by turning into a bat. After returning to her human form, she boards a ship.
This beginning raises a lot of questions. Who is Alessa? Why is she running away? Who are the people pursuing her? What is the significance of the locket? Having read the entire comic, I can confidently say that none of these questions are answered.
So some time later, Alessa looks out a window. She realizes she has no idea where she is. To get a better idea of where she is, Alessa fumbles open a map. However, she is told to get off the train because it has reached its final stop.
No. You didn’t miss anything. Alessa clearly gets on a boat with the water even being visible. However, she exits a train. I get that she probably changed vehicles off-screen. However, we could have had a travel montage to clearly convey this. As it, the sequence is confusing to the lack of a clear transition.
Alessa gets off on the train station. A sign identifies the location as “Basin”. A strong gust of wind blows the map away. Alessa manages to grab it. However, she loses her balance and falls off a cliff into some snow. Alessa realizes that the next won’t come back until next week. However, this revelation is cut short by a pain in her eye. To fix this, she puts on an eyepatch. Why she didn’t put it on earlier is never explained.
After wandering a bit, she decides to hide in a school, which is empty due it being late in the night. Some blond girl happens to wander by the school and hears Alessa. The blonde, worried about Alessa, tries to help her. For concern, she is murdered by Alessa. Alessa wakes up with no memory of what happen. So, she is surprised to see the corpse. According to her dialogue, she goes psycho if she doesn’t feed for too long.
The idea of main character becoming feral and violent if they don’t feed on blood could be interesting plot if executed correctly. Here, Alessa feels bad for like five minutes while looting the corpse and never thinks about this again. In addition, she does nothing to prevent this type of thing from happening again. So, any story potential here is wasted. In addition, it casts Alessa in a negative light for treating the murder so lightheartedly like she forgot to load the dishwasher.
Alessa leaves the room and decides to steal supplies. However, she interrupted by a teacher. The teacher mistakes her a student and introduces Alessa to the class. A goth girl in the class notices Alessa. She glares at Alessa before storming out.
Later, it turns out that the goth knows who Alessa is and that she is vampire. The goth even addresses Alessa by her surname at one point.. How? No idea. This is one of the many mysteries left dangling by the story's end.
After school, Alessa tries to befriend some of the kids. However, the blond guy claims that they don’t talk to new kids. They proceed to talk to Alessa (i.e. the new kid). While they have a pointless conversation, Alessa notices the goth spying on her.
After checking her supplies, Alessa tries to talk to the goth. The goth proceeds to attack her. At this point, Alessa acts smug and confident. She uses mind control to paralyze the goth and drinks the goth’s blood. However, this causes the goth’s bracelet to glow knocking out Alessa.
We enter a dream sequence. Here, a pale white, glowing version of Alessa is floating in a purple void. A shadowy figure speaks words of temptation to Alessa.
So, does Alessa have an alternate personality? Is she being possessed by a demon? Is this why she was acting completely different prior? If so, was Alessa being controlled when she killed the blond chick? We are given no actual answers.
The goth wakes up (apparently having fallen unconscious off-screen). Instead of making sure Alessa is dead, she wastes several minutes thus allowing Alessa to get up. Black Alessa is in control. The fight continues with Alessa displaying new powers and taunting the goth. The goth sprays Alessa with holy water causing her to cringe in pain. Alessa gets clonked on the head by the goth.
We cut to a dream / flashback. Alessa’s parents are talking about their “arrangements”. The entire conversation is written in a way to make it unclear what they are talking about. However, the point becomes mute because Alessa informs us they both died in a purge.
Was the second fight and the flashback necessary? We already had a fight that Alessa was knocked out in. The flashback didn’t reveal any important information aside from parents being dead, which could have been revealed later. So, why not cut have the segment with black Alessa be the dream?
Alessa wakes up in a visual novel. No seriously. The comic turns into a visual novel briefly. I have no idea why. It’s like the author saw the video game sections from Homestuck and decided to do something similar. However, Homestuck was all about video game tropes. As such, the video game segments had a thematic throughline. Meanwhile, Basin Vale has nothing to do with visual novels so this comes straight out of nowhere.
The visual novel goes on for much longer than it should so here is the short version. Alessa has been tied to a pole in someone’s basement by the goth while Alessa was unconscious. The goth is Jade Speckle, a teenage vampire hunter. She thinks that Alessa is responsible for the rash of murders in Basin. However, this has been going on before Alessa arrived. Alessa tries to claim innocence (despite murdering the blonde), but Jade doesn’t believe her.
Upon returning to comic form, Jade hears a crashing sound and decides to investigate. For some reason, Alessa doesn’t turn into a bat and escape. Instead, she sits there until magic suddenly frees her out of nowhere. Alessa escapes and meets Gin Lilly, a pointless side character. Here, the font of the dialogue suddenly changes. Gin pats on her the head like she is a child and leaves. Alessa berates herself for losing control and decides to get her supplies back.
We get another visual novel sequence. However, it is now a tedious maze. The maze is so poorly designed that kept getting disoriented. I couldn’t solve the maze. So, I just skipped it.
Alessa peeks into a window. Inside the building, the townsfolk are talking to Jade. Remember how Jade was investigating a loud crashing noise? Well, the story doesn’t. Jade reveals she was sent to investigate the disappearances, which surprises the townsfolk. If this was case, why was Jade at the school and why Jade is just telling the townsfolk this now?
It turns out that one guy survived an attack. As such, Jade decides to talk to the guy... in a visual novel! In the visual novel, the man, who is acting twitchy and paranoid, claims the townsfolk (particularly the village chief) are feeding people to a monster in the forest. Back in the comic, Jade instantly believes him and confronts the townsfolk about it. The villain chief appears and threatens her. If the townsfolk are feeding people to the monster, why would let Jade (who didn’t know about the survivor until she was told about him) talk to survivor and not just silently kill him to keep the secret?
A girl walks out of building and notices Alessa. The girl, while not questioning why someone is peeking through the window, notices Alessa’s pitch black eye and talks about how cool it is. Alessa, realizing the black eye is visible, covers it with her hand. So if Alessa has this conspicuous black eye, why doesn’t she just wear the eye patch over it all the time to hide it? The other girl segues the one-sided conversation into how she and her friends makes movies. Then, the girl introduces her as Lei. Then, the comic just stops.
So in eighty nine pages (not including the chapter pages and mini-comics), not much has happened. The story managed to introduce to the two main characters. Even then, we barely know anything about Alessa. In addition, the entire comic is set up that never pays off. Consider how the comic hasn’t updated in three years, it most likely will never pay off.
The comic has two main characters in the form of Alessa Wolfe and Jade Speckle. However, the “About” section alludes to a third character: a witch named “Taira”. Presumably, she was responsible for the magic that save Alessa, but the comic ended before she could be properly introduced.
Alessa is a terrible protagonist. Why? She is utter passive in what is ostentatiously her story. More often than not, it feels like the plot is happening to her than her moving the plot. Meanwhile, her causal disregard of blonde paints Alessa in a negative life.
The only thing she actually has going for her is the whole evil(er) personality. This could have created an interesting Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde dynamic. Instead, the evil personality is completely pointless. It seems like this personality takes over whenever the Paz got tired of writing Alessa.
Meanwhile, Jade is more a protagonist than our actual protagonist. She has a clear motive (to stop the murders) and actively pursues the goal. Jade actually drives the plot forward.
With that said, she is rather one-note. Jade spends most of her time being angry. While I get she is supposed to temperamental, it would have been nice to see another side of her character.
So, this is the part of the review where we need to get serious. The comic was created by Paige Paz. She is better known as “Zamii070”. Some of you might be wondering why that username sounds similar while others might be wondering what is the big deal.
You see, Paige Paz used to post fan art on Tumblr under the username "Zamii070". Among her various works, she posted a drawing of Rose Quartz (a character from Steven Universe) as skinny (whereas Rose is fat in the show proper). Certain members of the Steven Universe fanbase took offense and harassed Paige for making the fan art. The harassment got so bad that Paz tried to commit suicide! Fortunately, she managed to survive albeit ending up hospitalized.
Given the circumstances, I want to emphasize that this review is not intended on an attack on Paz. I hold no ill will against her. The point of this review is to express an opinion while entertaining the readership of the Bad Webcomic Wikia.
Overall, the comic has some decent ideas and good art. However, it is ultimately let down by the writing and story. The writing has trouble conveying the important information. Meanwhile, the story has basically nothing happen in order to set up a payoff that will never happen.