Reviews: Grim Tales From Down Below
nice graphics and new features
thanks good features
Your Mileage May Vary
As the title may imply, this review of the fic can be summed up in those four words alone. On one hand, you have the MANY cons. Minnie is a disturbing Yandere and her interest in her brother comes completely out of left field. Way too many characters. Lack of a strong plot (we're constantly flashing back to Aku's daughter Chi whose only real defining characteristic is her unexplained adoration for Mimi). Waste of many good characters (wonderfully drawn versions of many old Cartoon Network heroes are unceremoniously killed off-screen), on top of the domineering fanservice that Minnie and Mandy provide on top of Grim's tendency to ignore Mandy's bitch tendencies and Junior's strange love triangle. On the other hand, we have Junior, who's a lovable dork who just wants to be cool and make his family happy. He is ultimately the most human member of the cast (despite being, well, a skeleton most of the time) who has an amazing super mode and is ultimately just plain likable compared to the rest of the cast. He's fleshed out fully and his struggle to make sense of his crazy life and just make the ones he cares about happy is one we can all relate to. He's flawed, tangible, and ultimately like us aside from being a regenerating skeleton with a parasite in his body. On top of that his regeneration makes slapstick jokes that are actually pretty entertaining (continuing to talk even after having his head and spinal cord ripped out elicited more than a few chuckles from me). His denseness and naivety are easily explained by being a relatively sheltered ten year old, and there isn't really a point in the story where you can really hate him (which can't be said for the rest of the cast aside from the possible exceptions of Grim and the killed off and totally wasted cameos). The art is also lovingly detailed and incredibly well-drawn, easily rivaling or exceeding those of professional comic companies. Everything is crisp and colored, with naught a single flaw to be seen. As others have stated, the plot is ultimately the worst part of the comic, as it's constantly zig-zagging between Junior's love triangle, Chi's inane crush, Mimi's backstory, and Mandy's bitchiness with no brakes or stops to breathe and make sense of it all. Worse yet, the comic only updates with a single page every month, meaning it isn't going anywhere any time soon. So ultimately, if you want a half-decent read to pop in from time to time with a likable protagonist and lots of cameos, go for it. However, if you're looking for an epic story with a robust plot that avoids cliches and cast filled with your favorite characters from the 90s and Early 2000s, I'm afraid you're out of luck.
Worth Reading, with some serious problems.
Like his previous Fan Comic, Bleedman (And others? I'm not certain whether it was a group project or not.) has managed to do something that is both impressive and bizarre. He has taken a mixed mythology from various cartoons, whilst creating a completely independent theme. He clearly knows how to ease up the transition a reader must go through to stop trying to reconcile this work too much with its roots. Speaking of which, it's worth noting that the important characters and events here draw from a much smaller base than Power Puff Girls Doujinshi, though it still has cameos out the wazoo, probably because the main cast is mostly made up of Original Characters and the 'classics' being aged, altered, or given depth that they frankly never had before. It would be a testament that this comic added new depth to them, but it's simply not saying much, given the original material. The art style is animesque, yet very unique, and it definitely looks good. The story is overall interesting, but the the frame story means that we already know the end result of everything that happens, which is probably the series' biggest problem before we get into the real controversy. Specifically, the author did a few things that were either considered offensive, or just distasteful. Most obviously, there was a lot of Author Appeal Lolicon Fan Service, though it doesn't seem to be quite as pervasive as in PPGD. More problematically, he did such things as using a mention of many relatively recent disasters in a way that seemed to glaze over any emotional significance to them. Next, he essentially mentioned a force of ultimate evil gaining power through "left-wing politics", perhaps more a matter of Unfortunate Implications than Acceptable Targets. Later, he used a very Theme Park Version of some Judeo-Christian belief system, though it's just so vague... Finally, it uses Brother Sister Incest (rather, childish crush that may have been blown out of proportion by the circumstances) as a major plot device without ever resolving the issue in a satisfying way. Hopefully the sequel will help this... All in all, it's good, but whoever you are, you'll probably find something, and possibly several things, that you'll have to take with a grain of salt.
I personaly find this comic "average". Perhaps its not the best word, but what I mean is that its not bad but its not a masterpiece either. For the good things, I enjoy the art. It looks like a really nice mixture of the Animesque look and of western comics, and it can be said thee author of the comic did made an efford. The humor works and the characters are generally very well in character (even if many things were changed in order to fit the crossover), and I find it a well made Deconstruction of shipping fics and specially Spin Offspring fics. That said, there are obviously also bad things. While many characters are IC, the ones that are OOC are painfully obvious. While the story begins well paced, it gets rushed towards the end. When the rushing begins, it also becomes more predictable, but when you already know the end result the fate of the main characters shouldn't be surprised. Something I don't enjoy very much is the changed cosmology of the universe, specifically made a christian based one (its not even worthy of being called part of the christian mythology canon, since its just the Theme Park Version). The angel character is so annoying, unoriginal and useless to the point he was probably only added out of cruelty (yes, I know he was added for the sake of "coolness" and spread the christian message, but really even his character design makes Rob Liefeld's male characters look handsome), while the Seven Deadly Sins bit was hilariously narmul (but then again it was probably the intention of the author). I laugh at the Lolicon and overall blantant Fan Service, but again I pretty much laugh at any works with only straight male only fanservice so its not really relevant. As a final positive note, I find the author very brave for the presenting Mandy as the cause of the infamous calamities; not many people dare to cross lines like that.
Visually Impressive, Thematically Iffy
In many ways, Grim Tales From Down Below is similar to Bleedman's other fan comic, and the compliments I paid to that I'll pay again to this: the artwork is not just incredible, it's better than many professionally-drawn comics (provided you like looking at phenomenally-drawn monstrosities), and though the writing is less than spectacular, it's streamlined and unpretentious, and it serves its purpose well. There's a strangely sweet kick to be had in watching so many old friends and familiar faces interacting with one another, all in the context of a story that's grown up right along with us. It's Mickey Mouse Works for the Hot Topic crowd, and although that's about as far removed from a compliment as you can get, believe me, that's exactly how I mean it. However, it's clear that this isn't Bleedman's first comic, because there's an appalling tactlessness to it I doubt he could have gotten away with before having made some sort of name for himself. Grim Tales reveals a lot about its author. We learn, for instance, that he lost no friends or family members in the September 11th terrorist attacks, or else he would have known better than to set up a plot point wherein Mandy plans the collapse of the World Trade Center. I'm a big fan of artistic freedom, but that kind of thing is just plain bad manners, and it isn't funny. A few pages later, we see that she, proudly evil and borderline demonic girl that she is, acquires a position of power through left-wing politics. Though I felt slightly affronted, I didn't stop reading... but somebody else might have, and Ngo really should have known better than to pull a stunt like that, especially in a comic that appeals to a relatively small demographic as it is. Besides, we know that, canonically, Mandy favors anarchy... so why does she have a poster of Adolf Hitler in her bedroom? Hitler was a fascist, the exact opposite of an anarchist. While I'm at it, why was Teen Titans cancelled two years before it even premiered? But I digress. All complaining aside, Grim Tales is an incredible work of fannish devotion. If you're a child of the nineties and more than half your wardrobe is black and / or has skulls on it, I quite recommend it.