Welcome to Webcomic Trek, a review series that focuses on webcomics. My name is David Davis and I am the author of a couple of comics and published writer. I love webcomics and I love sharing my thoughts about them. So, what webcomic are we tackling this time around?
The story follows two Oni (demons) named Rau and Azu who terrorize the countryside while evading a vengeful demon-hunter. They find their way into the graces of a larger group of Oni and we discover their situation is more complicated than it first seems.
You can find A Story of Fire on Tapas, but the schedule seems roughly weekly.
What works with A Story Of Fire?
While the comic’s art starts rough, there is a genuine improvement. That is something that should be acknowledged. The art still has a fairly rough quality to it, but the real improvement is necessary to mention. Even the very early pages show some good staging for action scenes. A lot of it comes from being genre-savvy and borrowing visuals from other media. This is not a bad thing. It’s a talent to find shots and compositions that work and integrate them into one’s own work.
The writing does grow in complexity and the characters do find some sense of distinct and memorable personalities. Motivations are made clear and machinations start to develop. The comic is clearly a labor of love and it is set in a vibrant setting. The writing does get stronger as well, and there is the germ of a larger, more interesting narrative.
What could use some work?
The first thing that happens in the comic is a baby and mother are murdered and eaten by the pair of Oni. It becomes obvious that A Story Of Fire is not a comic for a general audience and might not really appeal to most readers. It’s fairly violent and meanspirited in a few ways. The protagonists behave like children despite grotesque actions and as a whole, it feels strange to read. Rau and Azu are a kind of a hyperviolent, offputting pair that are in the form of cute, anime-esque demon girls. It’s a very specific sort of appeal that probably will not work for everyone who stumbles onto the comic. The concept of Oni being born of pain and trauma is interesting, but the execution is lacking.
The writing tends to be riddled with anime cliches and tropes that ultimately do not add much but superficial depth to what could be a fairly lean and effective short story about hunters being hunted. There is some pretty interesting lore introduced in the fifth episode concerning the origins of the Oni, at least, but it feels like something that might benefit from being explored in a different story. Unfortunately, that lore is then followed up by the addition of a “WHAT WE LEARNED” graphic that spoonfeeds readers important points. It causes the product to feel more amateurish as the author doesn’t seem confident enough in their work to let it speak for itself. The revelation of Rau and Azu’s past, for example, is so hamhanded and only made even less impactful by the “WHAT WE LEARNED” section.
While there is an overall improvement in the quality of the art and the writing, A Story Of Fire does not really deliver anything beyond violence and strange characterization. What could have been a lean and effective short comic feels far too long and filled with unnecessary elements and worldbuilding. Worldbuilding works best when associated with a strong central narrative, which A Story Of Fire simply lacks.
Had the comic just been a short story following a pair of unsavory demons being hunted, there is potential for something solid. As it stands, I really cannot recommend A Story Of Fire.
Verdict: Not my speed.
Please be sure to give A Story Of Fire a look and come to your own judgment. While it didn’t work for me, you might enjoy it. If you have a webcomic that you would like reviewed, please contact me on twitter (@hpkomic) or you can drop a link in the comments on this review.