Legends both mortal and immortal stand at the top of this weeks' must read webcomics and webtoons, as we mourn losses and celebrate victories in the world of digital comics. Romantic tales and epic heroes shine in these amazing stories.
1. Solo Leveling by DUBU (REDICE STUDIO) (@REDICE_STUDIO) and h-goon on TappyToon and Tapas
The webtoon* world mourned the loss of Sung-Rak Jang, also known as DUBU, earlier this week, at the young age of 40. He brought the incredible light novel series Solo Leveling by Chugong to the mainstream with nearly 180 beautiful chapters in just three short years. I would be horribly remiss to not urge everyone to either start reading, or re-read, this iconic webtoon and appreciate the masterful illustrations and storytelling of this worldwide phenomenon in his honor.
For those of you new to the series, the iconic webtoon follows low-rank hunter, Jinwoo Sung, who is notorious for being the "Weakest Hunter of All Mankind". After a devastating and brutal dungeon nearly costs him his life, Jinwoo is re-awakened and granted the ability to level up his skills. He sets out on a solo adventure to become the greatest hunter to ever live, unaware of the repercussions his actions may have as he becomes more than he ever thought possible. You can read my full review of the series here.
As I said in my initial review, Solo Leveling has captivated millions across the globe with its brutal fight sequences, deeply hued and awe-inspiring illustrations, and entertaining underdog story. This is one series that definitely lives up to the hype. Also available in print from Yen Press, the ability to dive into this series is immensely accessible and well worth the investment.
2. Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe (@used_bandaid) on WEBTOON
Coming in hot off the heels of an Eisner win, the iconic webcomic series that propelled the WEBTOON platform to the mainstream dropped an incredible and powerful episode this past weekend that sets the stage for a massive moment, one that has been building for a long time. A series that hardly needs any introduction, Lore Olympus' ep. 204 is perfectly titled Persephone's Ladder and delves into the worst nightmare our poor heroine's mind could ever conjure.
Lore Olympus is a retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone that mixes modern aesthetics with ancient storytelling. The series follows a young Persephone as she steps foot into the world of the Olympus for the first time, catching the eye of the lord of the underworld in the process. The lives of the gods will never be the same. You can read my review of vol.1 here.
It would be impossible to delve too deeply into this episode without spoiling years of storytelling, but hardcore and longtime fans of the series know just how monumental the events of this update truly are. With the recent release of the second physical volume and the upcoming third season premier around the corner (available now on Fast Pass), now is a great time to pick up this series or get caught up if you've been behind.
3. DROWSE by Jamie Huxtable, Frank Verano, and Nick Klinger (@DrowseComic) on DrowseComic
Chapter four, part two of this lo-fi supernatural noir drama dropped on Tuesday this week. A retro-style comic about occult practices, political drama, and a grumpy detective, DROWSE is a must for fans of classic comics and thrillers. Created by the incredible team of Huxtable, Verano, and Klinger, with the help of Taylor Esposito and Kevin Ketner, this grungy series is the epitome of a slow-burn.
Caine is a down-and-out private detective living in a harbor town known as Fairhaven. The world around him is plunging into chaos as a cult-like group begins stirring up political unrest and people begin to vanish around him. Using his otherworldly practices to help solve his cases, Caine may have bitten off more than he can chew and the ghosts of his past threaten to unravel the life he has created.
This update to chapter four wraps up the first of four acts, setting the main narrative into motion with an escalating pace and frantic nature that jumps off of the screen, leading up to an incredible full-page illustration that hauntingly captures the eerie tone of the story. You can read my review of part one here.
4. Midnight Men by shida (@Shida_Comics) on Lezhin Mature
This immensely captivating and unique webtoon mixes several elements together that simply shouldn't work. And yet it does, with a strong sense of finesse and charm worthy of the story it tells. Midnight Men has become a heavily admired and well praised series with classic black and white illustrations, sultry themes, and an incredible cast of characters. This Chippendales-style story with gangster elements and queer romances oozes sex appeal and style.
Jung-hae is barely scraping by after taking a severely average job, but understands that the violence of his past career is something best forgotten. When his little brother starts bringing in hefty wads of cash, he discovers that the money may not be as clean as he's led to believe. After an investigation brings him to an all-male strip club, he suddenly finds himself thrust into the industry under the tutelage of the most sought-after performer in the club, Yoo-gon, who is about to completely rock his world in more ways than one.
Ep.29 was released on Saturday and saw our reluctant hero freed of his debt and obligation to continue performing at the club. A lifestyle he used to find repulsive suddenly seems elusive and a torrent of emotions overtakes him as he ruminates on what he's learned. Using shifted perspective, shida showcases the upside-down world that Yoo-gon so freely lives in. This beautifully introspective chapter establishes this webtoon as more than the sensual themes it presents, and develops the two leading men as realistic individuals that stand out against the stereotypes laid upon them.
Though many newer fans will have only recently discovered this award winning, mature BL (boys' love) webtoon title through the newly released TOKYOPOP edition, longtime readers of A1's risqué and romantic office drama On or Off will happily point you to the full digital version with fervor. Available in a toned-down version, as well, this highly loved title features 91 episodes and only recently concluded a few months ago.
Ahn Yiyoung is a peppy young businessman who set up a small app development business with some friends. When he's asked to present their game to the board of the prestigious SJ Corporation, things don't go exactly as planned. Determined to get their hard work noticed, Yiyoung approaches the notorious Director Kang Daehyung to ask for a second chance. When a risky opportunity presents itself, Yiyoung is ready to risk it all for one last shot, unable to foresee the role the handsome director will suddenly have in his life.
Though definitely a mature read and filled with some slightly impure motives from both leading men, this beautifully illustrated and honest office-centered romance is well deserving of its fan-favorite title. If you enjoy sultry slice-of-life romance titles, I highly suggest jumping onto TappyToon and giving this series a read. It's a beautiful scrolling experience, filled with several long panels that capture heavy emotional moments that are best read on a phone.
*webtoon is the term used for scrolling digital comics from South Korea, not to be confused with WEBTOON, the app.
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