It’s interesting to compare QC’s revelation of a transgender character last month with the Court’s exploration of one for whom gender doesn’t matter.

(From Gunnerkrigg Court. Click for full-sized extreme uncanny valley.)

As is its wont, Gunnerkrigg Court has answered the question of what, exactly, Jones is in a way that a) doesn’t actually answer the question (turns out Jones doesn’t really know herself) and b) raises more questions than it resolves.

The just-ended chapter began with a series of mostly frustratingly contentless flashbacks, starting with a number of interactions between Jones and Eglamore, then going back through the numerous identities Jones had taken throughout history, then dropping dialogue as it progressed through older and older time periods, until finally it wound up at a time before the existence of humans themselves. At this point I was about ready to call bullcrap on the explanation for Jones this was building up to, as it didn’t make any sense for Jones to have a human form before humans themselves existed, unless man was created in her image or humanity “retconned” her in to the formation of the Earth.

As it turned out, Siddell intended to use that seeming contradiction as a jumping-off point for an exploration of her psyche. It seems that when humanity arose, Jones initially thought she was no longer alone, that she had encountered others like herself, only to find that she could not experience the emotions common to all humanity. As such, she does not consider herself “living”, no different from the stones and rocks that make up the Earth itself, and simply hops from identity to identity taken from people she knows, with it being heavily implied that Mr. Eglamore will be next on the list. I still call bullcrap (it’s the classic “creature feels bad about not having feelings” paradox, though again the last page suggests this didn’t escape Siddell’s notice either), but at least Siddell used it as a jumping-off point for an interesting story rather than a gigantic hole in his existing one. It also means Jones is not that different from an autistic, developing social skills only through conscious “close observation and mimicry”.

But an exploration is not an explanation. It’s easy to see how Jones represents the apex of Coyote’s “great secret” we learned in the previous chapter; Jones is the imprint of man in every era of the Earth’s existence, billions of years before man himself came into being. Despite Jones’ very existence not making any sense without humanity retconning her in before their own existence, Antimony was prepared to use her existing before humanity as evidence against Coyote’s “theory”, on the grounds that such “retconning” should be impossible, or not having crossed her mind. Jones then proceeds to explore the apparent paradox, without actually coming to a conclusion; rather, the point seems to be to hammer home in Antimony’s head just how much power could be lurking in the ether, how much power the Court seeks to harness, if Coyote’s “theory” is true.

And yet, at the same time, she seems to suggest – without really realizing it – a limit to this power. “Coyote will say he [put the stars in the sky] himself, and it is not a lie,” Jones claims. “The same claim will be made by powerful creatures from other cultures around the world. However, I can unequivocally state that the stars were always in the sky. I saw them myself, long before any creature on this planet could lift their head to see them.” At first, this seems to suggest that Coyote was retconned in before even Jones, until you realize that his tale would still contradict those of the other “powerful creatures from other cultures around the world”. More generally, Jones’ personal history seems to line up with the actual, scientifically-established history of the world and the universe. The world’s history, as Jones has experienced it, is more consistent with what you’re likely to learn in science textbooks than with any stories coming out of any culture anywhere in the world, including those Coyote tells.

And yet, it’s coming from someone whose very existence – as someone with human form billions of years before life, let alone humans, existed – doesn’t make any sense without the ability of humans to “retcon” her in to the formation of the Earth, and whose presence in every era of history is attested to not only in her own telling of it, but in the actual physical evidence she’s left behind. That seems to rule out the idea that humans have shaped the memories of creatures like Coyote without actually affecting what actually happened. On the other hand, Jones claims to have no connection to the ether whatsoever, so it’s entirely possible she represents the “overwriting” of other ideas of the history of the Earth with more scientific ideas. That would put her extreme emotionlessness – and apparent separateness from both the Court and the world of magic – in a wholly new light. Perhaps Jones has not even been “created” yet, and will eventually serve as the Court’s means of imposing their will on the history of the world in a way that, they hope, leaves no room for magic. The only alternative I can think of would be the Court’s own version of DC Comics’ “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, that each culture has its own “timeline” of the history of the Earth, all of which has somehow been unified into a single timeline.

The key may be Antimony’s first visit to Coyote in the forest back in chapter 20, when Coyote let Antimony leave her thumbprint on the moon. Coyote appears to bring the moon down to Earth at the same size it appears in in the night sky, then gobble it up, at which point it appears where it did before. Kat detects no “irregular lunar activity” while all this is going on, yet still detects the aftereffects of what happened. Might the physical evidence of her existence Jones has left behind be similar? If this were to be the case, the stories of the past and the explanations for existing phenomena Coyote and others tell of may be false, but the physical evidence of their existence may not be. In keeping with the fundamental conflict of the comic – and, reversed, in some real-life defenses of religious explanations of the way the world is – there may be no way to disprove stories like Coyote’s or Jones’s even if they happen to be false. In this sense, it may well be possible for multiple contradictory accounts of, say, how the stars wound up in the sky to all be “true” in some sense. (I’m not yet willing to adopt Robert A. “Tangents” Howard’s explanation, that humanity only shapes the divine into a form it can perceive, without changing the existence or history of creatures like Coyote or Jones.)

I suggested before that the revelations in the last chapter represented the other shoe dropping, that we were finally learning exactly what it was that the Court feared in Coyote and the creatures of the forest. At first glance, this chapter seems to be moving in the opposite direction, firming up the Court’s place as the comic’s villain seeking to use the power locked in the ether for “their own ends”, and if the theory that the Court is planning to use Jones to overwrite history is true it would seem to lock in this notion. Yet the suggestion, first hinted at at the very end of the last chapter and explicitly raised by Jones in this one, of Coyote exerting some sort of power over Ysengrin that exhibited itself in Ysengrin’s attack on Antimony, certainly makes Coyote look a lot darker than he’s appeared as to this point, and Jones suggests not that the Court has evil intentions in and of themselves, but that Coyote has been trying to “sway [Antimony’s] opinion” of it through the revelation of his secret, implying that the Court’s actual intentions may be nothing of the sort; my idea of the Court as a “modern Prometheus” may still be alive.

This chapter heavily implies that Antimony is about to be named the Court’s new medium (it’s not like Jones is likely referring to Parley here), and Jones warns her that she’s likely to encounter decidedly more dangerous and less friendly creatures than she has thus far, which Coyote may have been trying to prepare her for both by revealing his secret (and giving her the homework assignment that formed the basis for this chapter) and inducing Ysengrin to attack her. Yet it seems to me that Antimony has come out of the last two chapters less prepared for the job than she was before. Before, she could hew to the approach that there’s no reason for the worlds of magic and technology to distrust one another, and indeed that there could be great boons to their cooperation; now it’s become apparent that that approach will be impossible without putting some sort of value judgments on the value of the Court vis-a-vis the creatures of the forest, and more generally mankind vs. nature, at least without establishing the extent to which Coyote’s “theory” is true. I would suggest that it’s incumbent upon Jones to lay out all the Court’s secrets for Antimony to see and to assess as reasonably and rationally as she can, so that she has a full appreciation of both sides of the issue.

After all, it’s not as though the preceding 38 chapters have given her, or the audience, a particularly cheery view of the Court as it is.

Apologies if I don’t get Ysengrin’s species right. It’s damn near impossible keeping everything straight in this comic.

(From Gunnerkrigg Court. Click for full-sized unsettling thoughts.)

I’ve been more than a little puzzled at how both Antimony and Ysengrin have been treating Coyote’s revelations in this chapter as only a “theory”. Certainly the way Coyote explained his secret would be consistent with his attempting to explain something that’s just an idea of his, but I get the sense that Coyote firmly and solidly believes every word he said, and more to the point, that the audience is supposed to as well. Merely by referring to it as “[his] great secret”, Coyote seems to have been trying to give the impression that he’s presenting facts, things that he knows or has learned, not merely things he’s theorized about – and at the very least, he would seem to be in a better position to know such things than either Antimony or Ysengrin.

I can sort of see Antimony’s position, considering she didn’t sign up for a semi-lengthy lecture on Coyote’s worldview. Ysengrin’s reaction, though, is more interesting; there’s some evidence that his disagreement with Coyote is more a result of denial, a refusal of what Coyote’s “theory” would imply about Coyote or himself, not necessarily having an actual reason to dispute it. And that plays into something that seems to be intentionally puzzling: his turning on and attacking Antimony.

On the surface, Ysengrin turned on Antimony as a result of a perceived slight that he took as Antimony taking Coyote’s side, a slight so minor that the only sane interpretation I would have of it would be the complete opposite. But then you start to wonder why this came in the same chapter that the theory itself was given. Now consider how Ysengrin turns on Antimony: he becomes utterly feral, far more animalistic than almost all of the creatures of the forest have heretofore been, going completely dialogueless immediately thereafter. Finally, consider this comic, where Antimony is shaken that Ysengrin just acted in a way totally unlike how he’s acted before, while Eglamore considers it perfectly in character.

Is it possible that it’s not a coincidence that Ysengrin acted this way immediately after Antimony learned Coyote’s secret? Is it possible that, on some subconscious level, she started seeing Ysengrin as just an ordinary wolf, so that’s what he became? Is it possible that Coyote has led Antimony to start seeing the creatures of the forest more like the members of the Court do? While it would certainly meet the challenge Robert A. Howard set for the Court, it would do so in a way that still paints the Court, in a sense, as the bad guys, a way that suggests that the entire conflict may come down to mind over matter. In any case, Antimony’s sudden reminder of Coyote’s homework assignment suggests perhaps she thinks that just might be the case, and perhaps it’s only in that moment that she started to take what she’d just learned seriously, as more than just “Coyote’s funny little theory”.

See, if this were Order of the Stick, I’d know all the points I’d need to make by heart and wouldn’t need to re-read the whole thing.

(From Gunnerkrigg Court. Click for full-sized homework assignment.)

Remember when I did my original review of Gunnerkrigg Court, and talked about how a major theme of the comic was the conflict between magic and technology? Well, Tom Siddell is turning that theme completely on its head.

When we started a chapter entitled “The Great Secret”, I honestly expected the secret in question to turn out not to be so great. Siddell has shown in the past that he’s not above setting high expectations for a chapter only for it to turn out to be a shaggy dog story – though he’s also done just the opposite; a chapter depicting the formation of the Court had a cover page that made it look like another frivolous holodeck simulation chapter. In this case, I was proven dead wrong; we’re learning things that force us to rethink the entire comic. This post is going to be far short of what it could be; to do this chapter justice would require me to reread the entire comic, and I don’t have time for that, even considering how relatively short Gunnerkrigg Court is.

For Coyote, the mind of man is forever restless, never able to see things as they actually are. This isn’t a new concept to the Court, but to this point it has generally been used to explain the Court’s stance towards magic: a firm belief in Clarke’s Third Law, that everything that appears to be “magical” must have a scientific explanation, not realizing that maybe magic actually exists and all the weird phenomena in the comic just is that way. Siddell is now using it for the opposite purpose: that man is responsible for the existence of magical phenomena in the first place. To use Coyote’s example, a man doomed to die in the desert and have his corpse feasted on by a real coyote does not see an animal like himself driven to survive and opportunistically preying on his misfortune, but the power of a god that has actively decided his fate. When a man dies, the contents of his mind are absorbed into the “ether”, a concept that has appeared in the comic before as the source of its magic, and from that all the ideas in his mind bear fruit. Coyote himself is but a “being of the thoughts of man”; the content of the secret itself, in the single page in which he utters it, is “I do not exist!

This gets to the heart of the conflict between the Court and the world of magic; we see the roots of the split between the Court and the forest in the same process by which Coyote describes his own creation, while the main driver behind Coyote’s actions appears to have been protecting the secret more than anything else. The pretense for Antimony’s visit to the forest in this chapter is that Coyote is bored and wants Antimony to tell him stories – about himself, something you would not normally expect him to need to do, but which ends up making a lot more sense when Coyote reveals his secret: the more stories about how great and powerful he is there are, the more great and powerful he actually is, or at least will ultimately be. Coyote is worried that the Court will either take control of the process described in this chapter, or cut off the flow of stories entirely with rational explanations, either way cutting off his power but benefiting mankind, freeing him from his own unconscious creations, while vindicating Antimony’s position as explained in my original review.

Robert A. “Tangents” Howard has been waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the comic to give us a reason to sympathize with the Court and what it sees in the forest for it to fear, and that may finally be happening, though not in the way he had in mind. Coyote once called the Court “man’s endeavour to become God“, and while we’re now starting to see what he meant by that, from man’s perspective it’s really more like a modern Prometheus. The comic becomes less about the conflict between magic and technology and more of a parable of man’s conquest of nature with science, as well as (like Homestuck) a commentary on the importance of story. Suddenly the imagination of man becomes the biggest weapon in the fight between the Court and the world of magic – indeed it’s no longer a sure thing that the comic is building to a fight in the normal sense.

To this point, while I have found Gunnerkrigg Court interesting, I haven’t found it any sort of literary masterpiece. But while my original thoughts on the comic’s entertainment value are unchanged, I now wonder if it might have just as much literary merit as Order of the Stick. If it weren’t for the fact that Antimony is in the middle of the third of five years at the Court, I’d think Siddell was starting to build to the end of the comic; as is, I’m now very interested in seeing what direction he goes with this, and I may want to take notes from the Court for my own future webcomic I’m working on. The comic’s direction has now changed course considerably.

Spoilers ahead if you haven’t been reading Gunnerkrigg Court. Especially chapter 31.

(From Gunnerkrigg Court. Click for full-sized dream discussions.)

It figures that the first full chapter of Gunnerkrigg Court I read as it comes out is quite possibly the most confusing one imaginable to start with.

So… what the hell just happened? Apparently Antimony is out cold and Zimmy and Gamma come in to help her… and start ribbing Kat for some reason? And Zimmy enters Annie’s dream-world where she wanders about with her eyes closed, hanging out with some forest spirit and Kat, and has a white mask for some reason? And she dives even further into Annie’s psyche where the fire-thing inside her has a bunch of stuff sticking into it that apparently leads to her dad, who Zimmy punches in the face? But then Annie and this other guy who has a crush on Zimmy start playing with her, and Zimmy cracks Annie’s mask? And apparently Kat looks like some sort of horrendous monster to Zimmy? And Gamma grabs Kat’s headband before they leave, and now Kat thinks the whole thing was just a dream? Was it all a dream? And what does the title of the chapter have to do with any of this, and why did we start it with events from Zimmy‘s perspective?

It’s hard to figure out exactly what to take from the whole thing with all the nonsense going on around it, and I wouldn’t have decided to write a post about it if it weren’t for the implication that Antimony’s father had something to do with her condition. The implication is that Antimony’s optimism is unwarranted and her father actually has sinister plans for her specifically, but given the circumstances of how Zimmy finds this out, I suspect he’s trying to find a “cure” for what ailed her mother and what could end up killing Antimony as well… even if Annie herself ends up being collateral damage.

The chapter does make a little more sense read all at once, but then it’s not as though there wasn’t a plot when read when it came out.I’m hopeful that future chapters will be a bit more comprehensible, to justify my continued reading of the comic.

(And my fears of how slowly the plot advances have proven warranted. I read two months’ worth of comic in maybe ten minutes.)

For this review, I think I’m going to try to put on my best Robert A. “Tangents” Howard impression and overanalyze everything.

(From Gunnerkrigg Court. Click for full-sized scrounging.)

Longtime readers of Da Blog know that I am an enormous fan of The Order of the Stick, to the point that I will defend it to the death as one of the classics of literature, especially within the fantasy genre. Of course, I can see how people might be skeptical that a humor comic about stick figures could be the best webcomic on the entire Internet. So back in 2009, when I was still regularly doing webcomic reviews, and shortly after one particular defense of OOTS as a piece of classic literature, I decided that if I was really going to call OOTS the best webcomic on the Internet, I had to qualify such a claim by familiarizing myself, once and for all, with the other comic commonly listed alongside OOTS, even by the likes of John Solomon, as one of the two best webcomics on the Internet. I had to do a review of Gunnerkrigg Court.

I’d read the first chapter of the Court before, but I didn’t really find it anything special, or leaving me wanting more (it’s a fairly self-contained story on its own), and at the time I didn’t want to get myself too involved in what was already a considerable archive. Due to the circumstances of my life at the time, I was finding it impossible to keep to the weekly schedule for webcomic reviews I was aiming for, and eventually stopped entirely, but before I did I was determined to push through, finish the archive, and determine once and for all whether or not the Court was really all it was cracked up to be, and whether or not it could go toe-to-toe with OOTS, or even find a place in my RSS feeds.

Is it? Well… let me tell you a story.

Even though I have a 100 Greatest Movies Project I’ve been trying and failing to get off the ground for some time (which you can contribute to!), I’ve never really been much of a movies guy. I went to two movies when I was very little, like less than five years old; I think they were Muppet Treasure Island and The Lion King. Both of those are kids’ movies, yet I could not handle the emotional torque in each one, not even Muppet Treasure Island. I ended up having to leave the theater to avoid what was going on on-screen. Those experiences turned me off of movies pretty much for life, to the extent that I can probably count the number of movies I’ve seen in a theater since then on one hand.

Now, being much older these days, I could probably handle those movies just fine if I went to see them today, or really most any other movie. But there’s still a part of me that worries about that emotional torque, that excess of drama. I’m anything but the kind of person who would go to a horror movie precisely to go through that torque. A while back I mentioned that I seemed to have a bit of an anti-gag-a-day bias in my reviews, that I tended to favor comics with a plot over ones without, but it’s really the reverse. All the comics that I’ve continued reading for some time after reviewing them – OOTS, Homestuck, Sluggy Freelance, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Irregular Webcomic, Darths and Droids, even 8-Bit Theater – for all that they had some plot or went some distance into Cerebus Syndrome, all of them had some humor to leaven the situation or lighten the mood, and OOTS is probably best at that than any other.

Gunnerkrigg Court doesn’t have that. It is strictly a dramatic story comic and nothing else. For as much as the situations can be silly or the comic downright weird, it is still a wholly dramatic comic, with any humor being purely incidential. Reading the first few chapters, I was simultaneously on the edge of my seat wanting the questions the comic raised to be answered, and wanting to just stop and get away from reading this comic. Part of it was my embarrassment at the level of bizarreness I was being confronted with; part of it was the level of suspense involved in the story, which got my heart racing and put me on the edge of my seat, portrayed in a far more dynamic fashion than would be possible in the stick figure style of OOTS. For many people, that’s high praise. For me, it was too much for me to take.

However, after the first five or six chapters, that feeling eventually faded, though I never was completely able to stop needing a break every few chapters and dreaded finishing it, and I think either I got used to the drama or Tom Siddell made it not quite so intense. If I were to recommend whether or not the comic is for you, I would advise you to read the first 11 or 12 chapters before coming to a decision. That’s nearly a third of the comic by number of chapters and almost the entire first book, but really the entire first book is kind of setup. I’m actually a bit stunned at how quickly the Court reached the point where the likes of Solomon and El Santo could praise it the way they have; I never would have thought it would have attracted that kind of praise before the end of the first book. For me, the comic doesn’t really get going until the third chapter of the second book – and for all the mysteries this comic has, it’s the partial resolution of one that got me most interested, when we begin to learn of the origins of the titular Court.

At this point, a major theme of the comic begins to come into focus, one that’s a bit overused in modern “urban fantasy” but nonetheless one worthy of study here: the conflict between magic and technology. A group of humans were offered refuge by creatures of the forest, but began looking for explanations for the strange phenomena all around them, which led to a conflict that ended when the trickster god Coyote divided the world of magic from the world of technology. While the Court was introduced as a school, it becomes apparent early on that it is much more than that, that it is a place that seeks to re-unify the two worlds… or perhaps more appropriately, to continue to attempt to understand magic using science, to apply the strictures of man to a world that stubbornly refuses to fit them.

The character of Kat quickly comes to represent this attitude. A budding scientist, hers is a strictly scientific worldview, one which refuses to believe anything that doesn’t fit her worldview until she’s confronted face-to-face with it, one which refuses to believe there is anything that does not have a rational, scientific explanation. Unlike the rest of the Court, she doesn’t need an explanation to accept what she’s dealing with, but she is quite insistent that there is one. As time progresses and she grows more used to everything, she does start to reshape her worldview and gets some new ideas about how a machine might be able to work.

A stark contrast with Kat is her best friend and the comic’s protagonist, Antimony Carver. Antimony is not entirely on the side of magic – merely being human is enough to assure of that – but she definitely seems to be more attuned to, and on the side of, magic than the rest of the Court (though many other human characters clearly have misgivings about the Court’s position). Antimony grew up in a hospital, isolated from the outside world, her mother bedridden from the day she was born. While there, she had the ability to see the numerous spirit guides whose job it was to escort the dead to the great beyond, and would accompany them and comfort the dead as they were taken away. It’s apparent, though not obvious to Antimony when the comic begins, that her mother arranged for her to go to Gunnerkrigg shortly after her death to further develop these talents and take up her own mantle as the Court’s “mediator” to the world of magic.

If I had to describe this comic in a single sentence, it might be: “if Daria went to Hogwarts”. Even at the height of activity in the early chapters it never reaches the sort of world-shattering confrontations that characterize the later Harry Potter books, and Antimony is not quite as snarky or disdainful as Daria could get, but she does hold a certain ambivalence toward everything going on around her and isn’t terribly affected at the presence of “ethereal” things (much like I’d like to pretend I could be, as though this comic didn’t put the lie to that). Her reaction, in the first chapter, to having a “second shadow” follow her around is to confront it, ask it what it wants, and build a robot to transport it across the bridge back into the forest; her reaction to encountering a ghost is to give it tips in how to be more scary; when she encounters a huge demon… dragon… thing, she strikes up a conversation with it, eventually comes to see it again when it’s re-imprisoned, and when the demon accidentially enters into her wolf doll, befriends it.

(That demon, Reynardine, may be my favorite character in the entire comic. His snarky ways were quite invaluable in getting me through some of those early chapters, adding some needed levity to the proceedings. He’s developed quite a bit since then, though those early days aren’t gone entirely, and Coyote may have passed him as the most fun character to be around. He’s… well… pretty much everything you’d expect a trickster god, accurately portrayed, to be.)

Although that first chapter (and the following one, really) read like a self-contained story when I first read it, not only do both the shadow and robot make return appearances, but it also serves to set the stage for the comic as a whole, and possibly serve as a microcosm of it. Antimony is confronted by a magical phenomenon – the shadow creature. She doesn’t shun it as some sort of abomination against science, as some sort of foe encroaching on the world of technology, but instead talks to it and learns that it just wants to go home. But her solution to that problem is technological: to build the robot. It is an alliance of magic and technology, indeed of the latter assisting the former, where once the former felt the need to shun the latter. There may be a bridge between the Court and the forest, but the real bridge is Antimony, and her ability to represent the best of both worlds.

That was once her mother’s job; now Antimony is in training to make it her own, in a way her mother never seems to have embraced. Her mother once romanced Reynardine in his normal fox form, but if I may be permitted a minor spoiler, it turns out to have been all a ruse to get him captured by the Court. Antimony, by contrast, has a more genuine (if somewhat slow to develop) friendship with Reynardine, and seems to have been accepted by Coyote and the creatures of the forest in a way that doesn’t really apply to anyone else in the Court. If Harry Potter is a game of Dungeons and Dragons, the Court is more of a chess game, with the pieces warily moving around each other, slowly setting up for a final showdown, with Antimony in the middle, potentially the deciding factor in the outcome, and perhaps the one best hope for bringing the two worlds back together.

Gunnerkrigg Court isn’t perfect. It’s certainly nowhere near challenging OOTS for my personal “Best Webcomic Evar” title, and I’m not even sure whether or not it’s better than Homestuck; certainly Homestuck was easier to get through despite taking longer. A big part of my problem with it is the one that I’ve hinted at when I’ve referred to the Court in the past: the effect of always releasing the comic a page at a time. While it makes for a breezy archive binge (it should take you no more than two days, maybe not even that if you reserve the whole day for it and can handle the emotional torque), some pages can be confusing and the pace of the story moves agonizingly slowly when read as it comes out, with some pages not feeling like full updates. Also, Siddell is so committed to making a mystery out of everything that sometimes the fact that something would be a mystery ends up making one or more parties look rather stupid.

It’s also not the most original comic in the world; the most obvious and notorious influence is probably Harry Potter, but Siddell has also borrowed heavily from mythologies and symbolism the world over, and I can also see reciprocal influences with other webcomics, as the art style sometimes reminds me of the later Scary Go Round (especially Parley), there’s a bit of Kim Ross of Dresden Codak (in)fame in both Antimony and Kat, and I can definitely see the Court‘s influence on Fey Winds.

And perhaps most of all, it can still be quite dark and depressing – and upon reread I realize it actually got darker as it went along, to the point one actually could say it went through Cerebus Syndrome. I’m interested enough in where it goes that I’m going to put it in my RSS feeds, but on a provisional basis. I’ve done this before – Irregular Webcomic! during the Irregular Crisis, Sluggy Freelance during the extended “bROKEN”/”4U City” storyline, Homestuck – but this is the first time where the reason for the provisionality isn’t because I’m just staying for the end of a storyline. Rather, the reason for the provisionality is because I want the freedom to bail on the Court if I find I can’t handle it. I may have only just gotten back to webcomic reviews, but I have never gotten closer to abandoning them entirely than when I was reading those first five or six chapters. The Court isn’t going to be the last webcomic of this type that I review, and regardless of what my personal inclinations are, if I want to have any credibility as a reviewer I need to at least be able to get through comics that may be quite good, but that deal with themes and subjects that put me through that much emotional torque.

Although, if page-at-a-time webcomics can be archive-binged as breezily as the Court, maybe I should try a full archive binge of Girl Genius sometime soon…