One Punch Reviews #46: The Continentals
If there’s one thing I hate about Darryl Hughes and Monica McNaughton’s The Continentals, it’s Lady Fiona Fiziwigg’s stupid looking hat. Alright, to be fair, her entire outfit is completely ridiculous… and when she’s standing next to her partner, Jeffrey Tiffen Smythe, the ridiculousness goes up exponentially. It’s half Zatanna, half equestrian riding outfit. I’m tempted to say that she’s cross dressing because she’s a woman playing in a man’s world. It wouldn’t really be unheard of, since Gilbert & Sullivan, the Trey Stone and Matt Parker of the Victorian era, once mocked “the lady from the provinces who dresses like a guy.”
I wish that Lady Fiziwigg dressed more typical to the ladies of the era, though. If she had to be eccentric, I’d tend more toward Mary Poppins than Annie Lennox. Because, shockingly, no one ever calls her out on her outfit. You figure if this is Victorian England, she’d get sneers and snide remarks everywhere she went. But no, this crossdressing strumpet is never really brought up in conversation. Hence, Fiziwigg’s fashion sense becomes a very unnecessary and distracting detail.
The hat is hardly the only thing wrong with The Continentals. I could talk about how most of the comic is Fiziwigg and Smythe engaging in droll banter… or, to put it less kindly, plenty of pages with talking heads. Or I could point out that the Webcomic Nation interface has gotten so out of date that the 2K11 virus seems to have struck the archive calendar (there’s no way to access any pages directly beyond December 2010). Not to mention the blah-ness of the Webcomic Nation interface in general. I could talk about how Fiziwigg and Smythe appear so haggard that when we get to the eventual sexy time, it unintentionally looks like your grandparents make out.
And yet, it comes back down to that goofy looking hat. Why, you ask? It seems me that Lady Fiziwigg is characterized as a very smart, sassy, and clever character with a morbid sense of humor. A sophisticated woman, in other words. And yet, she’s wearing a hat that’s so comically oversized that it looks like it belongs to Willy Wonka. Fortunately, this hat has yet to make an appearance in Chapter Two, which has the benefit of making Lady Fiziwigg look like someone who could do some actual detective work. Let us hope that the hat has suffered an inglorious death … or, at least, misplaced somewhere.
I’m a little torn on the art, which can get pretty inconsistent. Generally, I like the way the world of The Continentals is drawn to be dark and gothic. The crosshatching sometimes works, and it sometimes gets so overdone that it looks murky and sloppy. Sometimes the perspectives get jammed in a predictable pattern of frontal and side views. It can look a little stilted.
So The Continentals is about these two detectives, who are overt homages to everything from Get Smart to The Avengers. I suppose they work a variety of cases that stump Scotland Yard, but so far, we’ve only seen them working on one case. One of the things that The Continentals gets right is the mood. The most violent moments happen in flashback, with our characters using their deductive reasoning skills in relative action-free comfort. Perhaps that’s a little too cozy in our modern world where every week Horatio Caine is blowing up cars and Eliot Stabler is beating up perps … but it fits in perfectly with the world of, say, Father Dowling and Sherlock Holmes.
Besides, I have to credit Hughes and MacNaughton for taking the story on some legitimately strange turns … plot developments that I didn’t see coming. Without spoiling too much, we get a splash of mad science, some stuff on the occult, ultimate fighting… wait a minute. Allow me revise my earlier statement: Fiziwigg and Smythe are stuck in the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movie.
Still, there IS a pretty good story buried in The Continentals, if you can get past the sometimes weird art and a really horrible hat. On an unrelated note, I got married wearing a top hat. Top hats are serious business, people. Do not use them irresponsibly.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5).