I really need to get my writing muscle back in shape.

(From Irregular Webcomic! Click for full-sized memory lapse.)

So most of what’s happened up to this point in the Steve and Terry theme since the reboot of the universe turns out to have been an extended flashback that just ended (in what may have supposed to have been June). Which is rather interesting in terms of fueling the “did the universe reboot to the beginning or not?” debate. All signs now seem to point to “no, except for Space”.
-From the last time I posted on IWC.

Want to know what was happening in the Space theme? You’ll never guess in a million years.

No, seriously. Guess.

The Space people were role-playing their first adventures together.

The Fantasy and Space themes, with their role-playing miniatures representing their characters, have always hewed closest to the idea of representing a role-playing game, and Space in particular has hewed close enough to it that the characters actually noticed the death of Me, but still, I did not see that coming. Not to mention the metaphysical questions it raises concerning the lack of Me.

As for the anticipated resumption of the Irregular Crisis, that doesn’t seem to be happening – at the start of the new year, Me solved his “on the run from Death” problem by settling down “in my own home town, with my only remaining family”, and that seems to have been the last it’s been mentioned. Instead of a resumption of the Irregular Crisis, we seem to be getting a new Irregular Crisis, this one composed primarily of time-travel shenanigans with the 1940s turning into a hub of activity. One of the Martians that buzzed Roswell is being held at Area 51, where the 1980s Mythbusters, after moving to an alternate universe where the Nazis won World War II (suggesting the “scrambled history” may have indeed been major), have shown up, become their own grandfathers, and posed as Martians. Isaac Newton and Edmund Halley have started using their Doctor Who-esque time machine to recruit great scientific figures throughout history to travel to 1940, where the Pirates have turned up, as have Steve, Terry, and Jane Goodall, in a parody of Casablanca to boot (no, I am not making any of this up), and you just know that Cliffhangers, already set just a few years earlier, will get involved somehow, where the protagonists have learned of Hitler’s plans to conquer Europe.

(Mythbusters used to be one of my favorite themes and one of the few I would follow religiously if DMM offered per-theme RSS feeds, but it’s been turning me off of late. The closest we’ve seen of the “real” adult Adam and Jamie have been their Nazi-victory alternate universe counterparts, who just caused a rip in the space-time continuum by bringing unstable explosives to a trip through time; otherwise, it’s been all the 80s versions and their would-be grandfathers. And despite DMM working to preserve a PG rating, the whole “Adam and Jamie become their own each other’s grandparents” thing, besides feeling ripped off from Futurama, has just been painful to read.)

This crisis isn’t, so far, as far-reaching as the last one; Fantasy, Space, Nigerian Finance Minister, Shakespeare, and the part-time themes have maintained their own plots and haven’t gotten involved, yet. And beyond those themes (save Space), several other themes have, eventually, gotten to the point where they have picked up where they left off without any indication that anything happened, only getting diverted recently into the new crisis, namely Scientific Revolution, Cliffhangers, and Steve and Terry. On the other hand, other themes have had their disruptions feed directly into the new crisis, namely Martians and Mythbusters.

The new crisis is far from over, and knowing DMM is likely to continue to build right to the last day of the year. But if it weren’t for DMM’s reluctance to make money off his webcomic, I would think he’s trying to use all these crises to jazz up interest and maintain readership in his comic, using the hope of a resolution to string people along as long as possible. Instead, I’m left to wonder if the man who surprised me by saying my idea of IWC consisting of (then) sixteen comics in one, each of those comics being irregular, had never occured to him before, has gotten tired of the gimmick.

While writing this post, it occurred to me that the comic in which Me dies, effectively the start of the Irregular Crisis, is #1800. We’re now up to #2743, so the leadup to the Irregular Crisis, the Crisis itself, and everything leading up to this new crisis, has taken up a third of the comic’s entire existence. Add on top of that the fact that the multi-comic gimmick evolved over a very long time, starting around #30 and continuing past #100, and we’re fast approaching the point  (in about a year’s time plus) where the multi-comic gimmick as it’s best known, before all the themes started being united by crises, will have lasted only about half of the comic’s existence. As I’ve talked about before, David Morgan-Mar started a webcomic not really knowing what he was doing, only knowing that this newfangled “webcomic” thing sounded cool. The comic was titled “Irregular Webcomic” because he really didn’t anticipate the comic becoming as regular as it became – he’d just throw up something whenever he felt like throwing something up. In fact, re-reading that post, I’m reminded of the mini-crisis in 2007 involving four themes and a Martian invasion.

Irregular Webcomic! has been undergoing a slow Cerebus syndrome for most of its existence, and the point of no return was arguably a stretch from #457 to #793. For all of that stretch, a new Cliffhangers strip appeared, like clockwork, every three comics (which basically meant every three days). It was this stretch that led to Morgan-Mar sending the Fantasy cast off on a quest, because he’d come to realize that themes with ongoing storylines were easier to write than themes without, which benefited themes like Cliffhangers at the expense of themes like Fantasy and Space. Although the Scientific Revolution theme, which until recently was as TV Tropes described it – “an excuse for DMM to write heartfelt annotations about Newton, Halley, Pascal, Pasteur, Linnaeus and their contemporaries” – may have represented a backslide towards more gag-a-day comics with how relatively fast strips were coming out, the other themes without lengthy plotlines have not been heard from at all. Harry Potter and Imperial Rome have seen a grand total of two comics apiece since the reboot of the universe, and Star Wars and Supers have other reasons not to appear very often (Darths and Droids and the fact it’s hand-drawn by another party, respectively).

So perhaps it’s a natural progression from giving all the themes plotlines to trying to create an over-arching plotline for Irregular Webcomic! as a whole. But in trying to give people a reason to read IWC every single day, Morgan-Mar runs the risk of falling into PVP/Goats Syndrome (which I really need to settle on a single name for) by shoehorning some of the sillier themes, like Mythbusters and Steve and Terry, into these ominous, world-threatening plotlines. Most of those same themes successfully went through Cerebus Syndrome on their own terms by embracing their silliness as part of the plotline (though not always to the embedded extent Rich Burlew did), but when I see, say, the complete comic relief character of Steve panicking over the impending unraveling of time itself, I’m not sure whether I should be sitting on the edge of my seat or tipping it over guffawing in laughter.

Morgan-Mar seems to want to have it both ways, having a slapstick humor comic while also giving people a reason to follow the comic as a whole instead of single themes, and he doesn’t seem to be doing a good job of getting the two to work together. And it doesn’t help that the disparate themes are not very compatible with one another, spanning a span of time from the 1400s to the far future (not counting Imperial Rome, Fantasy, or several themes’ trips to the age of the dinosaurs), spanning nearly every genre imaginable, and spanning the entire globe and beyond, so that even giving them a reason to interact with one another to this extent requires inventing ridiculous contrivances.

I’m interested enough in where Morgan-Mar is going with this new crisis to keep reading to at least the end of the year, but fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. I’m not going to keep reading for a delayed resolution that isn’t there.

(If this post comes off a little more critical than I originally intended, well, re-read the title. I was tired by the time I was done.)