Review of The Guild: Zaboo one-shot (FULL SPOILERS)

December 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Guild: Zaboo comic was pretty awesome on the first read-through, and it somehow got even better when I re-read it with the intent of reviewing it. I’ve always loved Zaboo as a character, and I was excited that Felicia Day and Sandeep Parikh were teaming up, because I love it when they work together, and I definitely wanted to see some of Parikh’s thoughts about his character’s backstory. The one hope I had that was not realized this time around was that we would get to know Zaboo’s mom, Avinashi, better as her own person, but this did not really happen. That said, Season Four does a fairly good job balancing out her negative traits with her positive ones, and so perhaps I’ll just re-watch that for greater insight. I do love the way in which her overprotective parenting manifests in an exploitation of communication/surveillance technology, just like her son’s misadventures in stalking.

The best part of this comic was the minigames, which are actually worth playing, although I’d recommend reading the whole thing first to get the story, and then going back to the games, if you’re as easily derailed as I am. Each minigame was different, but they all serve a primary purpose of helping the reader pay attention to the details of the comic, which is great for readers who are new to graphic narrative, but who are accustomed to games, whether highly complex or ridiculous. I was excited to see them, because they reminded me of the kinds of travel games books I used to take on car trips as a kid, which is oddly appropriate for Zaboo’s eventual bus ride to Codex, but they turned out to be a really fun way to lock in the visual details of the comic. This is especially worthwhile because the art is great, and worth paying attention to.

Zaboo’s emotional baggage has been pretty much front and center since the first episode, so there were no surprisingly heart-wrenching revelations here, in the way that there were in the Bladezz comic, or even the Codex prequel, which took away some of that character’s comedic qualities, and laid them bare for the depressed mindset from which they stem. In fact, in some ways, this comic focuses more on Codex’s emotional state, and Zaboo’s interpretation of it, than it does on Zaboo’s character beyond what we already knew about his sheltered childhood and subsequent arrested development. The question of whether or not to have sympathy for Zaboo’s stalking is closed for some readers from the outset, but I think that this comic enables the most generous possible interpretation, which is that Zaboo had little access to healthy relationships education, and was genuinely concerned for a friend who was genuinely in distress. In fact, the only thing I would judge absolutely in the comic is an ill-placed joke about AIDS, which may match the internet subculture’s sense of humor, but adds little to the panel where it appears.

Overall, I am thrilled with this conclusion to the Knights of Good prequel series, and I sincerely hope that there are more comics in the future of The Guild. The medium is a good match for the subject matter, and it’s nice to get a sense of each character’s perspective on the life/game balance they all inhabit.

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