order of the stick
Original review author: Thedude86
Webcomic name: Order Of The Stick
Author: Rich Burlew
Start Date 2003
End Date Ongoing
Genre Adventure, Fantasy, Medieval
Why It's good It combines simplistic art with a storyline that keeps you more than entertained

Ratings summary:


Background

This webcomic started on its own as a basic Dungeons and Dragons parody. With that sort of beginning, one would expect to be lost if they weren't familiar with the game. Surprisingly, even someone who's never even heard of DND could keep up after a while. Eventually, it became a part of Giant in the Playground comics with erfworld. It continues to this day with a few updates now and then.

Story and Plot

In a DND (Dungeons and Dragons) world, an intrepid group of adventurers seek out the ultimate treasure, vengance for their fallen father and various other quests. There are so many stories within the comic it's hard to write a full synopsis but what I can say is this, it's a full and very well fleshed out storyline with many twists and turns, some unpredictable and some a little less but it keeps you engaged and interested. I personally spent a whole afternoon dedicated to reading this.

The main idea is, a group of adventurers of different species, alignment and background have come together in an alternate reality world where dungeons and dragons is reality. The villain and his henchmen are trying to go about their evil plans. Comedic relief comes from the fact that the Lich King villian Zykon, doesn't really seem to care about their quest and even goes as far as to struggle remembering who he's killed in the past (It's a long list). Mix in some punching bag characters and evil twins and you have a comedic-dramatic story that's a little heavy on the tropes but otherwise, good fun.

The characters are explored individually to the point where there's no stand-out main character. Each one has as much time dedicated to them as the next, minus the dwarf-warrior Durkon to a point although he was touched on (In more than one way) early on in the comic. Even the elf-wizard Varrsuvius's familiar starts to get development later in the story. The characters are cliched in the sense that they're almost the exact definition of their alignment but there's enough to them that they do become their own characters over time with their alignment taking the backseat for a while.

Art review

It's just stick figures. Though even with stick figures, it has its details. big armies and such. Otherwise, it's nothing to sneeze at. The art however is the LAST thing one would care about with this comic. I will say this however, sometimes the stick figure art is lampshaded a little too much but one panel in particular made good use of it.

I wasn't really expecting much at first glance but with the limitations of the art style, it does manage to pull off a good comic. Sometimes, it could be better since that kind of monster requires a certain degree of detail but other times it's actually alright when trying to get the point across of what's going on in the scene. It's the bare minimum when it comes to decent art, supported only by it's eye for little details and the lengths he goes to in order to establish a scene but it leaves the reader wanting more. The guest strips give the reader a better interpretation of what the characters look like.

Writing review

Incredible. It strings you along with some banal bickering and banter but it all comes together at some point and it all means something whether it's for character growth or it'll come in handy later, it's all readable. Even if it doesn't, it's friendly chat that seems both beyond real and sitcom-ism but believable. Sometimes the writing is lengthy and a reader would be tempted to skip a page or two but they'll come crawling back. The gags are hit and miss but more hit than miss. I've found myself giggling at Xykon's "Evilgasm", Gasping at Vaarsuvius's corruption and being downright pissed that azure city (The home to a large contingent of good guy paladin samurai, fell to the evil goblins. Yes…a stick figure comic will make you feel the same.

One failing of the writing is, sometimes they like to throw it at you without a good execution. There will be times where you're confronted with entire panels of text that explain what's going on and it becomes chore to read. I mean, holy crap. As well, sometimes the use of deus ex machina becomes too unbelievable and the story suffers, it'd be funny if they didn't rely on it so much. The first time it was funny, the next few times it was beating a dead mount. The reliance on self-reference and explaining the humor gets a little excessive at times as well. It's something people have come to expect from the comic and it's not so much a quirk as it is a main theme of the webcomic.

Otherwise, the writing is quite good, superior to a number of more popular webcomics out there.

Author biography

More Research needed, may need help with editing

Conclusion

This is something I'd recommend to the reader who's read it all. It has comedy, drama, romance (Yes, a stick figure comic has romance and it's played up well) and action that's very nicely done and it all comes together to make something that will keep you glued to your screen for some time.

Overall, I give it a 8.5/10. It loses points for the tedious amount of reading and useless background information on minor characters, coupled with the sheer number of recurring, but small characters someone has to remember. I personally can only remember the main troupe by name and the main villian, good luck in doing better. It scores high points for its addictive storyline. The humor falls a little flat sometimes but rebounds with some genuinely LOL-worthy moments. Just be prepared to sit and read for about an afternoon.

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