This week I was given the pleasure of reviewing the first issue in a comic series I’ve followed for many years now. Written by Ryan Sohmer and illustrated by Lar deSouza, LFG has stood out as a personal favourite of mine with its interesting characters and solid plot.
LFG is a long standing comic on the internet already with an impressive following, and now the chance to own the series in print will be made available, book by book. Blind Ferret was kind enough to provide us a copy of the volume for review purposes so that we could let you know what to look forward to. The book will be retailing for $9.99 per their site.
Looking for Group follows the adventures of Cale’anon, an Elf Ranger on a quest to do right in the world and protect the innocent. Unfortunately Cale has the misfortune of meeting Richard: master warlock, cruel sadist, lord of the 13 hells and mayor of a little town with a scenic view.
After a slight disagreement leaves Cale in need of medical attention, the pair of mismatched companions (more like acquaintances really) meet the Orcish priestess Benn’Joon and the Minotaur-ish figure Krunch. Together they set forth to find a fabled artifact of untold power (well power that’s been hinted at.) The story itself focuses on Cale’s attempts to go against the evil nature of the Elves and be a champion for good despite the morally grey companions he has been provided. Over the course of the story, Cale will struggle with what makes someone good or evil, actions, intent, or necessity.
The comic is littered with references to other works of fantasy I grew up with, between World of Warcraft, The Sword of Truth saga, and The Legend of Drizzt. The tone is kept light and jovial, with a style of black comedy contrasted by the very colourful art of Lar deSouza. While the journey is progressed through blunder and accident more often than any conscious effort of the companions, the beginnings of a clear story can be seen beginning to sprout in the first book of the series.
Lar’s art is filled with both subtlety and exaggeration. The characters themselves are very finely detailed, while reading the same panel multiple times will often grace you with things you didn’t notice before. For me, this is half the fun of going back and reading LFG once more.
The speech bubbles are often tailored to the characters speaking as well. Particularly large creatures may be seen speaking with a font reminiscent of a pile of boulders, while Richard’s speech is white against a black background, bordered by red to give hint to his undead nature.
The space within the comic is well used, and the panels are rarely crowded, despite often having 4 or more distinguishable characters in them. The action and combat is clearly portrayed, and during my first read through I was only ever confused about what was occurring on a few occasions, though it became clear quickly enough.
The colors used can only be described as bright and alive, pulling your attention into the comic. A slight issue I have is a common reuse of colors within the comics, thought this may be a result of my reading the comic on a number of occasions.
This becomes far less of an issue further into the series, but I couldn’t help noticing how often Richard’s cowl, Cale’s shirt, and Benn’Joon’s dress, pauldrons, as well as bracers were all the same shade of red. These three characters are often all in the same panel, and it can be a bit much. Similarly, the gold on Krunch’s bracers and pants, Benn’s bracers, as well as Cale’s cloak is also the same shade of gold.
Each character is very well made, and feels like so much more than just “General Comic character #1, 2, 3… etc”. The first book sadly lacks character progression, sacrificing personal growth of the characters in order to lay the ground work of the story. There are a few blatant nods that I felt very appealing while studying the characters however:
Cale is a blatant nod to famed Drow Elf, Drizzt Do’Urden, who same to the surface world to escape the rest of his evil Race. Despite his origins, he fought as a ranger, wielding twin scimitars and calling upon a magical panther name Guenhwyvar. IN LFG, Cale is a hunter wielding twin swords with a panther named Sooba. As with Drizzt, he struggles to learn how he may be a champion of good in a world full or moral ambiguity. For all intents and purposes, he is considered the main character of the series.
Krunch seems to reference the Tauren of Warcraft. Huge and bull life, his fighting prowess is not to be denied, though there are hints later on that he may have drama with his clan. He is very close to Benn’Joon, taking on a fatherly role.
Richard, ah yes… Richard. Richard is the comedic relief of the comic, and he takes his role very seriously. Hardly a few panels go by in which he doesn’t make a joke, taunt someone, kill a villager, injure one of the adventurers, destroy a village, or show off his shiny fork of anger. His behaviour reminds me of your typical Player Character in an MMO series, as he has no regard for anything or anyone else, and is not above satisfying himself with random acts of torture. Unfortunately this means that Richard’s constant wit tends to steal the scenes he’s in, and I found myself reading all the jokes once or twice before realizing I’d retained none of the story he was involved in.
I’ve been a fan of Looking for Group for many years, and I have no intentions to stop going back and re-reading the series from time to time. LFG is an enchanting comic for any fan of the fantasy adventure Genre, filled with a wildly ridiculous adventure, a deeper message about morality, and a warlock who never seems to be more than a few feet away from something he can kill just to make a pun. This comic has the important things in life.
In the past, omnibuses have been released containing multiple books, but for those that like to own individual volumes, this is definitely a great deal.
If you’d like to see if LFG is for you, head on over to their website.