April 22nd, 2015

need for speed

Second Quest (Comic)

So I ended up reading Second Quest, which is a lovely comic about Zelda (the video game series), an interrogation and deconstruction of it. I want to like it more than I do. It's written by the guy who wrote Saving Zelda and it's drawn by the guy who did the art for Braid, and that was definitely more than enough for me to be willing to give it a shot in the first place.

I love the idea of a feminist examination of Zelda and of the video game tropes that animate it, and the comic definitely takes a good stab at it. But there's something about the execution that doesn't quite resonate for me.

Maybe it's that my expectations were too high. Maybe it's that I'm comparing it (unfairly) to what I've seen fic writers do with problematic canons (hell, and problematic fannish tropes!) and how they poke and prod at it until they've cracked it wide open instead of just tipped things over a bit. Maybe it's that I'm unfairly comparing it to Broken Age, which has similar themes and has more time and space to explore its ideas. But it feels like a shallow, lumpy experience. Parts of it feel too drawn out. Parts of it feel too rushed.

I like the main character Azalea, but she's kind of your standard Plucky Girl Who Walks Away From Omelas kind of archetype and doesn't go much further than that. There are pieces that reference Zelda lore and mechanics, but that feel kind of half-there, not fleshed out enough. The trinkets, for example. The bird companion. Her relationship with her father.

This is a lot of griping, though, and it's a lot better than I'm making it out to be. It has something to say and it articulates it in a cool way. The art is gorgeous. There are plenty of moments of pure wonder. It's jam-packed with interesting ideas. But there's also something frustrating at the center of it, and not in the good way.

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