Saturday, May 23, 2015

Problem Sleuth

The unofficial logo of the series
I normally talk about movies on this blog. However, I thought this comic deserved to be talked about. The comic can be found at along with its sister comics Jailbreak (which is complete), Bard Quest (which has been abandoned) and Homestuck (which is what Hussie is currently working on).
Before we get into the actual review, I want to talk about the comic's format. Problem Sleuth is presented as if it was a video game. Each page has an instruction that was based on reader input. This instruction would affect the character as if they were in an interactive fiction game. In the actual story, the characters have stats and level up as if they were in a role playing video game. I point this out because the format might seem odd to the uninitiated.
What is the plot? The protagonist, Problem Sleuth, is a detective that finds himself trapped in his office and tries to escape. He soon discovers his fellow detectives, Ace Dick and Pickle Inspector, are in similar predicament and is forced to team up with them.
What's good about the series? Despite being a largely gag-driven series, the comic forms a cohesive (albeit a bizarre and ludicrous) plot. For example, a minor joke about building a fort out of an office desk ends up becoming a major mechanic for the "game". The humor is extremely good. For example, Death has recurring gag about playing games, such Hungry Hungry Hippos and breaking piƱatas, with other people. While normally this would get repetitive, the writer, Andrew Hussie, managed to use this to tell a variety of jokes. The series manages pull off being both insane and awesome at the same time. The best example is a villain being defeated by a jawbreaker-firing cannon. On a similar note, the fight scenes manage to be good despite the humorous tone of series. They manage to be fast-paced and action-packed. The art, while employing a minimalist style, manages to impressive especially toward the end where we have pages where loads upon loads of characters assemble and Andrew doesn't skimp on the detail on any of them.
What's bad about the series? Even for a comic where the pages are mostly one panel, it is a long series. If you include the epilogue, the comic spans 1892 strips. The plot gets very complicated. To put this perspective, "Recap Part 2" (strip 1696), which recaps the plot up to that point, spans nearly five pages. While I personally found these to be non-issues, I know this can turn some people off. At least one or two images would not appear on my computer, but these were unimportant to the plot and seemed minor compared to the other 1890 pages that worked. The characterization is rather weak due to the focus on jokes.
This is my favorite web comic of all time. The comic is the most crazy awesome thing I have ever read yet has good writing at the same time. I give it a five out of five.