Inverloch (first comic) (some violence and gore, finished) is a comic that I just came upon today, but I loved the archives. It’s a dramatic story, no laughs to be found, but the story is well done and the art is stunning. My timing of finding the strip is a little amusing, since I believe the comic is scheduled to end in a few weeks (it’s roughly finished, it’s just doing epilogue at this point). Updates are a page-style sized update (although less panels per page than most of the other page-based updating comics I’ve reviewed), and there are 757 pages in the archive.

Inverloch is primarily the story of Acheron, a Da’kor, a race of shorter, fuzzy, clawed, horned people who are known to be aggressive and hostile towards the other races, humans and elves. Acheron, however, is not aggressive, and when he meets an elf in the forest, he talks to her. They become friends, and discover that she has lost a childhood friend, Kayn’dar. Acheron decides to go find this person, and in so doing discover why this feels so important to him, and the secrets that have been hidden from him.

Acheron picks up various traveling companions on his way, and every once in a while I was almost willing to accuse the characters of fitting into a cheesy roleplaying party composition, but it never quite crossed the line. The characters develop quite well, and the tension in between them at different points leads to fun interactions. The only gripes I have about the character interactions is that the racism point gets played on a little too often and people get angry/calm about the subject a little too fast, and the initial “strong female” character doesn’t get quite enough development for the “strong” part, but those are certainly minor points out of all the rest of the good. The drama between the characters drives a lot of the strip, and the subtle interplay between them as they ferret out each other’s secrets is fun to watch.
Inverloch is the first webcomic I’ve read where after reading through the whole story, not only did I feel completely satisfied that it was a story well done, but I wanted to read it again immediately. Part of this is because of the secrets that are revealed throughout the story that explain so much of the background, but none of them are required to enjoy the comic the first time through. A second read through the archives had just enough new information to still be interesting the whole way through.

Also, the art is beautiful by itself. The fact that a good story comes along with it feels like a bonus. Some of the strips are silent, as the characters move into positions or walk through town without a conversation, but I didn’t feel cheated, since the art itself tells a lot of the story and is wonderful to look at by itself. The art is a cel-shading style, with extras like foreground and background that fit seamlessly, including focus that gives a sense of perspective and depth. The elves and da’kor both have consistent and logical anatomy, and their distinctiveness is shown well.

Again, there’s no funny here, so if you’re looking for a humorous strip, you can skip this one. But if you want a good dramatic story, Inverloch is a great strip. You should read it.

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