One Punch Reviews #46: The Continentals

If there’s one thing I hate about Darryl Hughes and Monica McNaughton’s The Continentals, it’s Lady Fiona Fiziwigg’s stupid looking hat. Alright, to be fair, her entire outfit is completely ridiculous… and when she’s standing next to her partner, Jeffrey Tiffen Smythe, the ridiculousness goes up exponentially. It’s half Zatanna, half equestrian riding outfit. I’m tempted to say that she’s cross dressing because she’s a woman playing in a man’s world. It wouldn’t really be unheard of, since Gilbert & Sullivan, the Trey Stone and Matt Parker of the Victorian era, once mocked “the lady from the provinces who dresses like a guy.

I wish that Lady Fiziwigg dressed more typical to the ladies of the era, though. If she had to be eccentric, I’d tend more toward Mary Poppins than Annie Lennox. Because, shockingly, no one ever calls her out on her outfit. You figure if this is Victorian England, she’d get sneers and snide remarks everywhere she went. But no, this crossdressing strumpet is never really brought up in conversation. Hence, Fiziwigg’s fashion sense becomes a very unnecessary and distracting detail.

The hat is hardly the only thing wrong with The Continentals. I could talk about how most of the comic is Fiziwigg and Smythe engaging in droll banter… or, to put it less kindly, plenty of pages with talking heads. Or I could point out that the Webcomic Nation interface has gotten so out of date that the 2K11 virus seems to have struck the archive calendar (there’s no way to access any pages directly beyond December 2010). Not to mention the blah-ness of the Webcomic Nation interface in general. I could talk about how Fiziwigg and Smythe appear so haggard that when we get to the eventual sexy time, it unintentionally looks like your grandparents make out.

And yet, it comes back down to that goofy looking hat. Why, you ask? It seems me that Lady Fiziwigg is characterized as a very smart, sassy, and clever character with a morbid sense of humor. A sophisticated woman, in other words. And yet, she’s wearing a hat that’s so comically oversized that it looks like it belongs to Willy Wonka. Fortunately, this hat has yet to make an appearance in Chapter Two, which has the benefit of making Lady Fiziwigg look like someone who could do some actual detective work. Let us hope that the hat has suffered an inglorious death … or, at least, misplaced somewhere.

I’m a little torn on the art, which can get pretty inconsistent. Generally, I like the way the world of The Continentals is drawn to be dark and gothic. The crosshatching sometimes works, and it sometimes gets so overdone that it looks murky and sloppy. Sometimes the perspectives get jammed in a predictable pattern of frontal and side views. It can look a little stilted.

So The Continentals is about these two detectives, who are overt homages to everything from Get Smart to The Avengers. I suppose they work a variety of cases that stump Scotland Yard, but so far, we’ve only seen them working on one case. One of the things that The Continentals gets right is the mood. The most violent moments happen in flashback, with our characters using their deductive reasoning skills in relative action-free comfort. Perhaps that’s a little too cozy in our modern world where every week Horatio Caine is blowing up cars and Eliot Stabler is beating up perps … but it fits in perfectly with the world of, say, Father Dowling and Sherlock Holmes.

Besides, I have to credit Hughes and MacNaughton for taking the story on some legitimately strange turns … plot developments that I didn’t see coming. Without spoiling too much, we get a splash of mad science, some stuff on the occult, ultimate fighting… wait a minute. Allow me revise my earlier statement: Fiziwigg and Smythe are stuck in the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movie.

Still, there IS a pretty good story buried in The Continentals, if you can get past the sometimes weird art and a really horrible hat. On an unrelated note, I got married wearing a top hat. Top hats are serious business, people. Do not use them irresponsibly.

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5).


About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on May 30, 2011, in 3 Stars, action webcomic, gothic, historical webcomic, mystery webcomic, One Punch Reviews, The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. “Crossdressing strumpet”. I so need to find a way to fit that into everyday conversation, damn it!

    So, this looks like… I don’t know, one of those comic book adaptations of classic books(we had “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” at home; Usher disappeared long before I started to appreciate Edgar Allan Poe, sadly).

    Potential, it has. One day I might remember to give this a chance.

  2. Such a huge hat. Just that picture you posted of her in the hat already looks kinda bad.

    I’ve seen Jason Lutes depict similar outfits in “Berlin” with a kind of subtlety that is much needed for Lady Fiziwigg.

  3. I kind of find the treatment of her attire as not a big deal kind of refreshing, even if it is kind of ridiculous. But maybe that’s just because I find women in suits incredibly hot.

    Hm. Maybe I should get married in the most ridiculous top hat I can find just out of spite…Nah, but I still want a nice suit.

  4. I agree, the hat feels like bad character design. Something done more for aesthetic and “badassery” than story or mood. It’s the badass long coat in hat form! O.o

  5. I have never seen folks SO hung up on a hat. LOL!

    Darryl Hughes here. Writer/creator of The Continentals. I like the way Fiona’s hat took on a life of it’s own. And no, Anise, it wasn’t character designed that way. Sometimes a top hat is just a top hat. 🙂 Fiona’s hat started out as a normal sized top hat and got all Willie Wonka as Monique drew the comic nd I hope she keeps drawing it that way. I also hope that Monique gives her an assortment of top hat sizes from too damned big to small and funky. Why not? Have fun with it.

    As for folks not calling Fiona on her style. It’s not the 21st century, it’s the 19th century and folks don’t usually talk out of turn or their station in life. Who was gonna call Fiona on her style? The flabbergasted bobbie when she made her first appearance? He’s a bobbie, she’s a high society woman. But if you notice Monique has almost everyone who sees Fiona react to her with subtle and not so subtle glances like the curious bobbies at the crime scene at Lord Ashton’s home who can’t take their eyes off of her, or the people passing her in the halls at the university. You want someone to say, “Hey lady? why are you dressed like a dude?” But unless that person was of Fiona’s station in life they wouldn’t. Oh, they might say something under their breath, to their friends, or give her snarky looks, but they would utter a single word to her because they know their place.

    Hard to imagine? Not really. Say you met someone really important and they were wearing a godawful tie. Would you say to that person, “That’s a godawful tie you have on”? Or would you keep it to yourself and say nothing? Most folks wouldn’t say a word to the person. At least not to their face.

    Now when Smythe and Fiona are amongst ther peers in high society like the aforementioned upcoming dinner party thrown by Evelynne Poole plenty will be said to, for, and about Fiona and her “unconventional” fashion sense. But within 19th century societal lines the folks she’s been around so far wuldn’t say a word to her face.

    I do hope you folks continue to read The Continentals. I think you’ll enjoy the rest of it. 🙂

    Thanks again for the review.

    Dee – The Continentals writer dude

    • Anything you add to a character, hats included, is character design. Denying the hat is like painting of a pastoral scene, putting a thick blotch of red paint in the corner and then telling everyone that it has nothing to do with the rest of the painting.
      It does have an effect on the painting. Being an artist is about making decisions, and understanding that every decision we make influences the interpretation of our art.

      • The hat itself WAS a part of Fiona’s character design. What I said was that THE SIZE of her ha wasn’t. It became a rather large hat as Monique was drawing the comic. It was never planned on being anything more then a normal sized hat at any point during her character design. And it certainly wasn’t something we thought out with the intention of giving her–what was it?-“Badassery?

        • It’s kind of weird that you replied under my name…

          Now, the nice thing about webcomics is that they can develop along with feedback. Now that you know the hat is too big, or that it gives your character a particular interpretation, it’s up to you to acknowledge it and creatively work it into the story. Ignoring the elephant in the room does not a good comic make.

          • Yeah, a bit of confusion there. I don’t have a computer (I’m analog in a digital world. 🙂 ) so things take a LONG time to load and I was replying pretty much in the dark.

            Anyway, embracing the hat as is now is what I said in my original comment on the hat. You made it seem like we’d planned the “big hat” to give the character some sort of edge, and that’s not the case.

            Anyway, this is WAY TOO MUCH yapping about a hat, don’t you think? I just hope folks are enjoying the comic. Big ass hat and all. LOL! 🙂


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