One Punch Reviews #51: Aikonia
When I first started this site, one of the most exciting new artists to appear on the webcomics scene was Awkward Zombie‘s Katie Tiedrich. Even if you didn’t like video game comics, you had to admire her fun character designs, her sense of comic timing, and her unique character personalities. Marth and Roy, for example, were less the characters from Fire Emblem and more Teidrich’s own creations who just happened to look like somewhat familiar video game characters.
It made several of us wonder: how would Katie Teidrich be able to handle original characters? We sort of get a taste of that with Aikonia, a fantasy webcomic illustrated by Ms. Teidrich but is written and developed by a team from MADSOFT Games, LLC (who are working up to a game release based on the world established in the comic).
It pains me greatly to say this: Ms. Teidrich’s style is all wrong for this comic. Aikonia is set in a dark, joyless world where the authority figures are corrupt two-timing villains, people are sacrificed in pentagrams, and there’s a graveyard where students who have been killed by magic have been buried. It’s like Harry Potter without Bertie Bott’s Beans, talking portraits, mail delivery owls, Quidditch, or anything else that might make witchcraft and wizardry seem like a fun career path for a young mage to pursue.
As a result, Teidrich never really gets a chance to draw what she’s good at. All the characters are permanently scowling, which makes them even more difficult to tell apart since everyone is draped in the same black robes. You learn to relish the few comedic beats, such as the all too brief scene where Ariel, a possessed girl who becomes the focal point of the story, begins to vamp it up. It’s not funny, but at least someone in the story is showing some personality beyond grimly ascetic. It’s almost like you’re reading Gormenghast as illustrated by Jim Davis.
Outside of that, Aikonia is fairly predictable fantasy fare. It’s about a council of mages trying to unleash an ancient magic to gain more power. Things don’t go as planned, people start suspecting that illicit doings are afoot, etc. Fantasy is one of those genres that thrives on rehashing the same familiar story beats while keeping the good-vs.-evil dichotomy as black and white as possible. The trick is that you have to make the readers care about where all of this is going … and, sadly, the characters in Aikonia are so flat that having that world ruled by the far livelier Ariel would actually be a welcome improvement.
Rating: 2 stars (out of 5).