Writer/Illustrator: PIPO (@drawing_pipo)
Publisher: Seoul Media Comics, Inc.
Translation: Yoo K. Lee
WHAT IS IT?
A BL (boy’s love) webtoon* that puts a fun, rom-com spin on the classic superhero story.
Think The Incredibles if it was a quirky romantic comedy.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Daniel da Silva Rosa has a strange ability; he can recognize supers without their masks on. This power gets him recruited into IFSH, an organization that supports the efforts of supers. When a chance encounter with a quiet, awkward man named Wyatt Doyle leads to a refreshing companionship, Daniel (a hopeless romantic) finds himself falling head over heels in love.
But Wyatt has a secret, one that threatens their burgeoning romance (as well as Daniel’s career). He used to be a supervillain and is arrested on suspicion for the sudden rise in terrorism and serial murders of former supervillains in the city. Daniel and his team must prove Wyatt’s innocence and uncover the truth behind the attacks to ensure he’s given the chance to let this relationship happen.
PIPO created a spectacular superhero story with this webtoon. There’s an undeniable charm to the human-centered narrative and the focus on the “office work" side of superhero support. It’s a concept that moves away from the typical tropes associated with the mainstream side of the genre.
The art style is sketchy, almost chalk-like, with wispy strokes and soft colors. It’s a much smoother and lighter take on a genre that is typically done with sharp, straight lines and darker tones. Everything feels painted.
There is a uniqueness to the character designs. The characters have fluidity to their movements and their expressions convey emotions that feel realistic. Their personalities are felt vividly, it's easy to imagine the tones in which they're speaking and empathize with them (both in the good and bad).
When a moment of importance happens, PIPO opted to remove the backgrounds and fill the panels with solid coloring. It is an eye-catching way to pull the attention back to the characters at a pivotal time and it draws the line of sight toward the expressions and emotions that are driving the narrative.
They have done a phenomenal job filling the world with characters that are diverse (even the nameless background bodies have an air of authenticity to them and a realism to their designs). The cast is diverse in ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. It’s a well-rounded and inclusive group of characters.
Rona put a lot of care into the lettering; it's clean, easy to read, and sized appropriately for the speech/sound effect bubbles. Text that sits outside of bubbles has highlights to help it stand out and stay legible against the panels.
The sound effects are few and far between and are almost always contained in bubbles. It helps the panels feel less cluttered and it lets the art speak for itself.
Lee was quite thorough in the translations and the narrative/conversations are easy to understand (which is important since it is such a heavy conversation-focused story).
Chapter 14 contains a beautiful, extensive flashback scene that is done in a retro, Ben-Day dot style with a limited color palette that harkens back to classic comics. It’s a unique and brilliant way to show past events that stands out amongst the normal, sketchy flow of the main art style.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CONTENT WARNING: Strong language, consumption of alcohol, some mild violence and blood.
There are a few grammatical errors, however they are extremely few and far between.
The first season spends most of its time following Daniel and Wyatt’s relationship and less on the superheroes/villains. This does change in season two (things ramp up exponentially in the "super" category), but readers who are expecting a classic super-centered story will need some patience.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
In a world that’s oversaturated with superhero stories, Daniel’s Very Personal Villain delves into the more human side of the genre. This webtoon takes a look at how ordinary people and their relationships are molded and impacted in a world filled with overpowered beings, and the impact that dating a super can have. While this is not a new concept, something about this series feels refreshing. The narrative invokes the same atmosphere and feel of films like Megamind and The Incredibles, but the slow-building romantic relationship pulls it toward a more mature audience. There's also a vibe that resonates with Invincible in the sense of government offices focused on supers and the more day-to-day happenings of the cast (but much less violent/graphic).
With LGBTQ+ elements that feel natural and a diversity-focused cast, Daniel’s Very Personal Villain brings out the humanity and meet-cute romance that high-profile “superhero” contenders tend to lack. This is a webtoon for those who have a soft spot for unconventional superhero tales. Backed by a sharp and intriguing mystery that spans most of the season and a slow-burn relationship, the story immediately pulls the reader in with its intrigue, cheeky comedy, and lovable cast.
HOW DO I READ IT?
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*Webtoon - term for digital comics that originated in Korea, created specifically for scrolling on mobile devices