Worthwhile Webcomics: Second Empire, by "Mechmaster"

Mama Fisi
Mama Fisi's picture

A friend of ours pointed this comic out to my husband a few days ago, and ever since then he's been holed up in the computer room, avidly absorbing this CGI graphic novel about a rogue Dalek general who incites a civil war on Skaro.

There are also animated versions of the comic strips up on YouTube, and I can honestly say that the artwork is, at times, quite stunning. Some of the scenes look more like model work than amateur computer graphics animations, the way the light and shadow and reflections play on the surfaces of the Daleks.

Since I'm hoping I won't have to go into a lengthly description of what the Daleks are, I won't. And using alien tanks as characters in a comic strip might seem like a bit of cheating, since there are no faces to need to create expressions for. The font used to simulate the nasal, waspish Dalek voice is a Greek knock-off that can be hard on the eyes.

That said, my husband has reported that it is a very entertaining and well-written plot. Daleks with personalities is a rather new concept for him, and Daleks with personality quirks is outright hilarious. The chief scientist sports a pair of fuzzy dice on his travel disk, for example. There are secondary characters who quarrel and bicker like those two idiot pirates from "Pirates of the Caribbean." They're not just machines, they're...well, people, of some sort or other.

Trying to avoid being turned into machines is exactly why General Xenon rebels against the Dalek Emperor. The genesis story for these Daleks is somewhat different than "Dr. Who" canon. Some of the Daleks have been genetically manipulated to be superior officers, but in Xenon's case, it has given him superior charisma along with intelligence, and he rebels against the way the Emperor is reducing his people to little more than high-strung, obedient killing machines.

So what a switch--instead of re-imagining a good guy as an angsty and violent anti-hero, Mechmaster (I couldn't find his real name) is envisioning an angsty and violent villain as a noble hero.

I admit I haven't read the series myself, but from what The Husband reports, it's a cracking good romp. I have viewed some of the animations, and aside from having those grating voices quickly start wearing on my nerves, the artwork looks gorgeous.

Here's a link to the home page, with a description of how and why Mechmaster started the comic strip, plus further links to the strips and individual episodes of the videos.