Zap!

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The reviewer apologizes in advance to the Nostalgia Critic for ripping him off instead of coming up with a more original way to spice up this review. To reconcile, he will flood his own e-mail account with hate mail, accusing himself of copycatting.

Original review author: BTIsaac (based on the review by YaoiHuntressEarth)
Webcomic name: Zap!
Author: Chris Layfield (writer and creator) and Pascalle Lepas (Artist)
Start Date About 2003
End Date September 28, 2014
Genre Sci-Fi
Defining Flaw Unoriginal computer game inspired plot with all of its clichés.
Things that are horrible about this comic Pointless non sequitur humor, forced running gags, unprofessional character development.
Things that aren't terrible but could use improvement The art is top notch, though the character designs are uninspired.
Summary The art is good but the plot is predictable and the writing in unprofessional.



Rating Summary

Art Wiki.png Wiki.png Wiki.png Wiki.png

Very bad at the beginning but improves slowly during the following volumes. The current art is very good, but the character designs are uninspired.

Storyline: Wiki.png Wiki.png

Not much to be said. It's rather bland. Chances are, if you played console RPG's you won't see anything new. The problem is, it's spiced up with some godawful running gags and pointless non sequitur, plus there are several details about the writing that are just plain stupid.

Characters: Wiki.png Wiki.png

Mostly just character archetypes, though somewhat better developed, plus you can give them a different name and they immediately turn into another existing character from a different story.

Miscellaneous Details: Wiki.png

The current site layout combined with the small page size makes the comic very hard to read, but it has keyboard browsing so at least you don't have to worry about carpal tunnel while reading.

Overall: Wiki.png Wiki.png Wiki.png

It's sad that the art is wasted on such amateurish writing. If at the very least Chris could get a professional to review his scripts, this could be a decent comic.



Background

I came across this comic by accident when I was looking for a scene from a completely different comic, which I ironically ended up disliking, and that's all I'm gonna say about it. Regardless, Zap! here looked like an interesting read, and since I've already seen it in plenty of ads during my Keenspot days, I decided to get into it.

Downfall

The comic was pretty bad from the start, featuring horrible art, and the most cliched setup a story could have. The thing really hit rock bottom ten pages in, when we find out that the protagonist is a complete moron, who's also special for no real reason, and is amnesiac. The art has outgrown the writing since then.

Story

Welcome to the future, where we will build space stations, have countless adventures and fight the evil government for being douchebags.

The very first bad thing I noticed about the comic was the very first page of the story that acts as the first part of a quick summary of the world's history, in Fricking FUTURE TENSE!!! Why? Okay, so the plot takes place in the distant future, that much is obvious, but in terms of the story, all of this has already happened, so what's the point? Well anyway, we learn that the evil government,called the GEF has taken over Earth and is now ruling over the entire Galaxy. Hear that? EARTH! Earth is the center of the frickin' universe. We are never told why, we are just expected to believe that of all the various races, it's humanity that conquers the galaxy.

Following the most over the top transition from future tense to present tense ("The future is NOW!!!" - see what I mean?), we cut to Cloud Strife's retarded twin brother outrunning an exploding dumpster, while trying to escape from a bunch of bucket heads. He boards a ship managed by Reona, a cute anorexic redhead, Grontar, a four armed wookie , and a sarcastic robot called xrbarbeque... I mean xarbeq9... xr-3-0dsthingamabob... ... Robot, who are looking for a new captain. Apparently their ship, Excelsior (no article) chooses 'her' own captains, and Cloud Strafe... I mean Zap Vexler qualifies, because he's the protagonist. With this, the adventure begins, and the crew of Excelsior, who are all members of the Resistance (seriously enough with that word - it's the blandest, most uncreative name you can come up with for a group of freedom fighters) resumes their original mission.

Zap learns that he's psychic, just like the previous captain Efrem was. So as is to be expected, he begins working hard to become a good captain, learn to control his powers, and get the girl, so she would shut up about Efrem she's so smitten with. All the while the GEF, led by George Dubya, I mean dumb old mister Billings, and his two generals, is continuing their evil tyrannical rule, by annexing planets, and recruiting psychics for a special academy that trains them into soldiers. The leadership isn't very stable, seeing how one general wants to replace the president, the other wanting to dismember the GEF from the inside, and the dean of the academy, Sephiroth Gunner Strife I mean the Serpent, deciding to use the academy to create his own army and overthrow the government.

Art Review

I'll get this one out of the way quick. For the first two books, the art is some of the most badly drawn generic animu shit I've seen. Granted, I'll give credit that even with the uninspired character designs, it has the decency to not directly trace from actual manga, like 99% of the animu out there. I mean those goddamn weeaboos...

Please stand by while the reviewer trashes his surrounding in a fit of uncontrollable rage. Thank you.

I apologize for that outburst. It was childish and immature. Anyway with that crappy... That GODAWFUL. BULLSHIT... A... you know what, out of the way, I think it's best if we move on to the next section, because there's no way God himself can save this horrible scribble from... ever... ... getting... ... ... HOLY SHIT!!! I mean look at this. The art improved that much in less than 4 years. Now that's something. Sure NNFB has some pretty good art, but it didn't start this bad. And most of the popular comics out there don't show this much art improvement in 10 years.

I should mention that despite the good art, the character designs really aren't special. It may be just the concept behind them, but we've seen these guys everywhere. The whole cast looks more like a bunch of cosplayers dressed as OC's from a bad fan fiction. One of the few reasons I'm reluctant to give the art 5 stars. That's some wasted potential right there. And I didn't even start elaborating on it.

Writing Review

I'm usually very easy going, but I think others will agree that I should give credit where credit is due and admit that this isn't even such a bad comic. So why is it here. Well, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Rock bottom. This is where the comic screws up and falls flat. Sure the setting is old and dull, I mean haven't we heard of that Sci-Fi dystopia, evil tyrannical government and shadowy conspiracy a hundred times the plot is cliched, and a few moments are simply stupid like how Zap's latent psychic powers are always triggered when Reona, the girl he met a few hours ago) is hurt, or in trouble, but it's not all that cringe worthy, right? Well, let's take a look at this. Simple enough. Every amnesiac console RPG hero has recurring nightmares about their mysterious past, even though they aren't so terribly wordy about it. But then Reona, the girl he's known for one day, shows up and... falcon?... what?... I have no idea what's going on. I mean what was that all about? Sure it's some sort of prophetic dream or something, but what the heck is up with it? Why does everybody have to talk that much? What's up with floating Reona? Why is it so hard for Zap to decide whether or not to pick up Reona, who's right next to her, before running away while the Falcon buys him time (boy does that sound forced), instead of wasting it to make up his mind. I mean with a body like that, she can't be that heavy. Well, this is the end of this book, so maybe the next one will be better.

Oh goody. Space squid attack. Pretty weird if you ask me, but at least Here's Zap's chance to save the crew and earn their respect right? WRONG! Once the fight is over, nobody ever mentions it again, which makes this, you know what. And that's not even the only one. Several scenes in the entire comic are simply pointless. Like this annoying running gag of robots getting destroyed. Like this one here. Or this one in the very next comic. Or these two. I don't get it, what's the point? Is this supposed to be funny? Here's another one. At least this didn't... oh, wait a minute. Yes it did. Ha. Ha. Ha. Stickle insurance.

Oh yeah. Stickle. That's the actual name of an alien race here. All alien races in this comic have some of the most awful, uncreative and illogical names. Stickle is one thing. Then we have the Felenar, who's names derive from feline, because they are cat people, and the Elementaro, and race that specializes in bending I mean manipulating one of the four elements. There could even be pastanites, who all act like stereotypical Italians, and the Mcruffians, anthropomorphic dog people who are very good at law enforcement. See? I can make up alien races too. It's easy.~

There is also one last serious issue I had with the writing. This concerns Gunner Strife, or as some like to call him, the Serpent. And no, this isn't a spoiler, because it's so god-awfully obvious, that if you didn't realize the connection the moment he first appeared as Gunner, then there's something wrong with you. Hell, even a guest comic said it, before the reveal was made (it's no longer available though), that's how obvious it was. Zap had an excuse at least because he never knew or heard of the Serpent, until the big reveal finally happened. Even so, it doesn't excuse what kind of a bumbling moron he comes off as. The only serpent he has ever met before, is the big purple one with yellow eyes, fighting a golden, green eyed falcon, in his dream. Now he's blonde, has green eyes, and a falcon shaped tattoo. The first thing Gunner (who has purple hair and yellow eyes) does when meeting him is reveal his serpent shaped tattoo. Zap fails to make the connection. Later, during the commotion in the casino, he realizes Gunner is behind it, and immediately later, meets a hooded man with yellow eyes, wearing Gunner's clothes, and he still doesn't make the connection, even though he addresses this mystery man as "the Serpent". Then Gunner pulls back his hood and Zap looks like he's been struck by lightning, because only now he realizes what everybody else has known for the past 3 books.

So let's recap. First Zap is like "Durr-hurr you're that guy I never even heard of who's been following me this whole time and has something to do with that giant serpent from my dream" Then Gunner pulls his hood back and Zap goes "OMGWTFBBQ Gunner, I absolutely no idea it was you, even though you kinda have the same color scheme as that giant snake and even have a snake shaped tattoo, and I was originally expecting to find you here anyway. I totally didn't recognize you with your hood on, even though you were wearing the exact same clothes you always wear." ... THIS! IS! DUMB!!! This is Dumb. Gigi Becali, the owner of the Steaua Football League, president of the Romanian New Generation Party and the only man on the planet with a negative IQ isn't this stupid!!! blgrgharghlblgragghraghAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cast

Again I apologize for my earlier outburst. I'll be resuming the review now. Time to discuss the characters.

Of the main cast, we have Zap, the amnesiac psychic, with Cloud's hair. He's a complete moron, but he starts kicking ass and chewing bubble gum when things get serious. I mean whenever he sees the girl he just met shedding a tear. Geez Reona, maybe if you brought some tear gas with you to make yourself cry all the time, you could have a competent captain on your ship. Being stupid and incompetent isn't Zap's only problem. He's also a selfish prick who gets his priorities mixed up. He's supposed to be captaining the ship, not trying to woo the girl. Though to his credit, he IS trying to be a nice and decent guy, and tries to prove himself worthy, rather than being a self absorbed womanizer pushing himself on her.

Too bad he has such a poor taste in girls, because Reona happens to be one of the shining examples of the webcomic heroine of the strong independent female character type - read über megabitch. Thing is, all her bitchiness and habit of punching the hero when things don't go the way she wants them to, fail to make her seem like a strong independent character, when she's neither. Reona's personality (if we can call it that) comes down to obsessing over her former captain and supposed boyfriend Efrem Nutari, complaining about everything, and generally being useless. Zap trying to cheer her up? How dare he imply that she needs a man? Megaton punch! Enemy soldiers coming in trying to kill the crew? Fire arm cannon that can only be used once and only makes things worse, then flee and leave the to the others. Somebody mentions Efrem? She's reduced to a whimpering wreck. That pretty much sums her up.

It's interesting that when it comes to main characters, the number two is always the most interesting. The brains behind the hero's muscle or the muscle behind the hero's brain, the brain and muscle behind the hero's ... nothing, the rationality behind the hero's recklessness, and the personality behind the hero's bland genericness. This is Grontar, the four armed love child of Worf and Chewbacca. This guy is simply awesome. He's got everything the other characters lack: interesting design, in depth personality, brains, brawn, and most importantly common sense. Too bad he never really has a chance to show how great he is, because every time he has a chance to show off how great he is, he is conveniently written in a situation where he becomes completely useless. Thankfully that started to change lately.

No team would be complete without the snarky comic relief character, so the comic brings us x-rati... xr1skq EX-ARR-blgarderdash... AHEM... Robot. Robot is a sarcastic, wise-cracking... well... robot, who handles navigation, and cybers with the ships AI on his free time. Yeah... not at all disturbing.

Robot's grand nemesis is Casey, the Stickle, who I swear should belong to the asylum. Sure she's a great mechanic, and an expert gadgeteer, but she is also clinically insane, loves blowing things up, and suffers from a very bad case of Mechanophilia, which appears to be normal for females of her race (now there's a strange image). Not only is Casey in love with XR-fq54 I mean Robot, she gets jealous of him easily, blowing up any machine she sees him interact with. So far, this Excelsior is safe.

The most interesting characters in all stories tend to be the villains. Unfortunately, George Dubya President Billings and the GEF don't do any actual villainy at first, other than annexing planets and suppressing the rebellion. However, they really do some really nasty things, that are related to us indirectly by other characters. Probably the evilest thing about the GEF is that it's lead by only three people: The president, the General in charge of the army, and the General (Admiral?) in charge of the Air Force and the Navy. Obviously that is too much power for three men, and that's horrible. To make matters worse, the generals want to overthrow the President and take everything for themselves. Well, that's General Verbatim's reason. Obviously he doesn't want a buffoon acting like his immediate superior, regardless of what a good scapegoat he makes. General (Admiral?!) Yago on the other hand wishes to bring down the DEF from the inside, which makes him a more interesting character than the generic backstabbing power hungry Verbatim. Looming over the GEF is the even greater villain, an evil triumvirate of powerful psychics, with a secret agenda, that most likely involves taking over the world. Sephiroth Gunner, who I already said enough of, is the face of the organization. The existence of the other two isn't even known until we are introduced to them, and their reveal is probably there to compensate for the how disappointingly the Serpent's identity was revealed a few pages back. First there's Efrem Nutari, who I swear is the biggest asshole among webcomic villains. The other one is, or rather was, Zap Vexler, before his amnesia kicked in. That's right ladies and gentlemen, Zap is officially Darth Revan. I knew the plot was familiar from somewhere. Gunner is always followed by a felenar called Naveed Catlos, who is, you'll never guess, a cat person. With a name like that, I was totally expecting her to be an armadillo.~ Now this woman is evil. You can tell by the amount of clothes she's wearing, which I swear are by all means ridiculous. There seems to be a trendy fetish outfit for women which seems to consist of bulky pants that cover up everything but the thighs and buttocks, the appeal of which I fail to comprehend. Naveed takes it one step further by doing the same with a thick miniskirt, which is also open in the front. I'm not even asking for her to wear more, it would be much more practical if she's just walking around in her boots and bikini and ditch that ugly sheet of fabric hanging from the belt. Naveed is pretty much made up of all the supervillainess cliche's you can think of: slutty, shameless, extremely violent, jealous of the heroine, sadistic and naturally far more competent than any of the men she's usually fighting. Except for her immediate superior she's smitten with, and who treats her like garbage. What makes absolutely no sense is that she apparently erased Vexler's memories. The how and the why is never discussed. We are just supposed to believe she just blanked the mind of one of her superiors, and that's how we ended up with our dim witted protagonist. BULLSHIT!!!

Jeez, what could this guy's power be? Energy? Sleaze? Mint and berries with a satisfying crunch?

Further listing the characters we come to the anti-villains, Gunner's henchmen called the Galilean Satellites, four Elementaro named after the four largest moons of Jupiter... do I really need to comment on this? Aliens from a different part of the universe, naming themselves after four satellites from our solar system that were named by a scientist who lived on Earth probably more than a thousand years before the events of the comic. Why? Just WHY? Their power to control the elements also makes no sense, I mean what is it? They can't be psychics. Is it magic? some form of Chi based martial arts? How does it work? The author just expects us to believe that these guys can control the elements, without any explanation or comment on the nature of their powers. These guys join up with Gunner, because they want to get back at the GEF, which destroyed their entire home planet, and slaughtered their people. Why you ask? Well DUH! Because they're evil. So who are these guys? Well, we have Europa, with the power of wind, Callisto, with the power of water, Ganymede, with the power of Earth, and Io with the power of fire. There's also Ma-Ti with the power of heart. And together, they can summon a blue gay man with a green mullet, who teaches kids about preserving the environment, and aids.~

Finally, we have the neutral character, Random GEF officer #159. You know he's important because he's got a face, unlike the rest of the mooks. And a name, granted William Haskins sounds pretty bland and uninteresting in a sci-fi setting, just like the guy who's called like this. They may as well call him mister expendable. But he can't be expendable if he's got a back story. And a mentor. And apparently a destiny. And he gets brainwashed by Gunner into becoming his spy, and that's about all he does in the story. Good God. This guy is developed from nameless generic mook into a someone more interesting that the protagonist (not that that's saying much), only to end it like some generic mooks usually end up. What was the point? Why give the impression that this guy is important, then leave him out of the story for 100+ strips, then bring him back again like his time has finally come, only to have him offed and reduced to a tool again. His mentor is also wasted in a predictable fashion, and ends up like mentors usually end up: Dead.

Author Biography

The authors seem to be on good terms with the creators of No Need for Bushido. Besides that, I don't know much about them, except that I'm watching Pascalle on Deviantart. She seems to care a lot about improving, and used to make a habit out of keeping the pages' old Photoshop files for practicing her coloring techniques. I know much less of Chris, but it's obvious from all I said earlier, that he's not a good writer. I think the copyright disclaimer for this comic describes the contrast between them best: "Chris L. is a Dumb-Dumb, Lepas is super awesome." That's pretty much the difference when you compare them and their respective skills, and it shows.

Conclusion

So what's wrong with Zap!? Nothing in particular, if it wasn't so GODDAMN STUPID! I mean the art is awesome, some of the cast are bland and generic at worst, many would be fun and interesting, if the author would be more fair to them, the plot is cliche, but if you're looking for some light reading, that's not really the number one concern anyway, but the way it's written is simply... dumb. The heroes are stupid, the villains are illogically exaggerated, the plot twists are poorly executed, or just directly ripped from some other familiar media, the running gags are annoying (except for this guy, he's funny), the names are lazy and unimaginative... what's worse is that sometimes, Chris shows that he CAN write something halfway decent if he really tries, so does that mean he's too lazy to put some serious effort into his story? I don't know. But like I said, the art is good, and when the writer really tries, the writing can be good at points, and as evidenced by it's following a lot of people love it. But with all the flaws the comic has I simply cannot enjoy it to it's full extent. Maybe I'm just not in the right mindset. Therefore I will now proceed to rectify that issue... Please stand by while the reviewer hits his forehead 144 times with a mallet DurrHurr... Me liek Spaceships...

Links


Zap! is part of a series about keenspot


About: Created by Chris Crosby, Keenspot has developed a reputation for insane owners and snobbish elitism, which is really rich considering the kind of dreck that has been (and still is) part of the portal.

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Comics

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