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Webcomic / The Challenges of Zona

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The Challenges of Zona is a webcomic by J.E. Draft, begun in 2005. It is a sequel to an earlier work, The Three Challenges of Zona. Despite the title, the viewpoint character is a second-rate busker called Mentl, who finds a Great Big Book of Everything and is transported to a fantasy world where he discovers both the love of the title character and the ability to cast magic through his music. He then becomes convinced that Zona only loves him because he inadvertantly enchanted her, goes back home, and Zona is left to carry on alone while Mentl gets drunk and farts around back on earth. After which the viewpoint splits into many.

This webcomic contains examples of:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Maldik. In the most recent chapters, it's revealed that his parents, Yanora, and his yet unnamed father made his life hell, by Yanora's own admission "for no good reason," completely destroying his self-esteem, hopes, dreams, and joys, making him grow into a bitter ball of impotent rage, and now he's so far into his Gambit Roulette allying with the Urtts and the Church of Thrasu that even with Yanora's help, he can't figure out a way to extricate himself from the shitstorm that's coming.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Averted with the Erogenians, with the exception, so far, of Jerk Jock Pontagar. The Kivalians are a more mixed bag. Prince Maldik is The Caligula, Queen Yanora is a Magnificent Bitch, but Count Tethik is definitely one of the good guys.
  • Fanservice: My Gods, the fan service, both male and female.
  • Fish out of Water: Mentl, although he's adapted fairly quickly and fairly well.
  • Functional Magic: Theurgy, Mentl's music magic (which may be unique to him) and Item Magic. Hinted that Vito uses Rules Magic but we haven't actually seen him in operation.
  • Genius Ditz: Yatta-ta, while a buffoon in most cases has proven to be an excellent swordsman.
  • Gentle Giant: Keltan and Liri, especially Liri when it comes to the "gentle" part of the trope.
  • God of Evil: The god of fire, Shuach, who is worshipped by the Urtts, preaches that Love Is a Weakness and that the strong must rule the weak without mercy, encourages misogyny, rape and Human Sacrifice, and teaches that he is the sole true god (or at least the only one worthy of worship). He has lately taken to hiring demonic mercenaries to do his dirty work, especially on Earth.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Ginsha is half Urtt. Many members of the Snake Clan have varying degrees of Urtt blood.
  • Heroic BSoD: Mentl has one after he becomes convinced that Zona only loves him because he inadvertently enchanted her
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Why Mentl goes back to our world.
  • Large Ham: Yatta-ta comes across as a medieval fantasy cross between Errol Flynn and BRIAN BLESSED.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The ruling family of Kivallia bears an awfully strong resemblance to the Plantagenets. Maldik (Prince John), Yanora (Eleanor of Acquitaine) and the absent Gudik (Richard the Lion Hearted).
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Giants are a rare mutation among humans who grow much faster than normal humans and never stop growing. They face persecution and bullying because they tend to be born only in times of hardship and are, by Kivalians at least, considered harbingers of evil. Other writings indicate that to the contrary they're born in order to combat evil. All three giants so far encountered are of the gentle variety
  • Prince Charmless: Pontagar
    • Maldik too. Unlike Pontagar, he's shown shades of realizing he's an abhorrent little tool. Whether or not he'll act on that insight is left to be seen. So far however Pontagar, unlike Maldik, is merely obnoxious, not evil.
  • The Power of Rock: Mentl tends to channel his powers through impromptu spells, which are actually the lyrics of favorite rock songs. He accidentally cast a love charm over every lady in a ballroom by singing The Troggs' "Love Is All Around Me", and threw fireballs at an opponent with a chorus of Jerry Lee Lewis's "Great Balls of Fire". Also, a future version of Mentl, joined by his and Zona's future teenage daughter used The Beatles' "Get Back" as a time-travel spell.
  • Power Trio: Mentl with his powers barely under control is definitely the Id and Tula is the meditative Super Ego. Zona might seem an odd choice for the Ego but except when she's in the middle of battle qualifies. Pontagar, Carshik and Brantik may also form a similar group in which case Pontagar is definitely the Id.
  • Religion is Magic: Tula gets her powers from the Moon and Earth goddesses, while Gorshash gets his from Shuach.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Big Bad's Mooks are a race of Always Chaotic Evil Lizard Folk called the Urrt.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Tula and Zona are both princesses of Erogenia, while Pontagar is an Erogenian prince. Queen Yanora does more to run her kingdom than her son, the nominal ruler, who to be fair, is busy running a war. Ipola of course also counts.
  • Stealth Pun: 'Morcai' is a variation on 'Mordecai', which means 'little man'... and he is obviously on the short side (this may have been unintentional).
  • Straight Gay: Count Tethik. At first glance he seems like a typical example of what you'd expect from a Kivalian nobleman (albeit with maybe a stronger moral fiber); then Mentl inadvertently casts a love charm... And Tethik's just as affected by it as the ladies present. He's seen later on with other male partners.
  • Training Montage: In a recent arc, Zona and Tula travel to Earth to reunite with Mentl. At one point he reveals that his mother's death (evidently at the hands of evil demon mercenaries) prompted him to take several levels in badass, training himself not only in magic but in krav maga and firearms.