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The Daily Read: 12/20

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In Thunder and Lightning, sullen and impulsive mage Raamah must bind himself with an animal familiar in the final part of his training. But deciding to take the road last travelled, he binds the first animal he sees: a wolf. Unfortunately for Raamah, this is in fact a werewolf, and proves much too powerful for a simple binding spell. The resulting fumble locks both Raamah and the lycanthrope Barak to each other in mind and body, and thus the two must survive the final days of Raamah’s magical schooling.

To start with, Thunder and Lightning is set on an epic scale. Though the premise essentially sets up the “rival schools” theme found in many kung-fu flicks, there is a grander, mythical struggle for supremacy unfolding in the background. In particular, the story’s prologue is set in a beautifully-colored fable, and the current interlude even resembles a hieroglyphic legend. Such innovation marks Thunder and the Lightning high above the rest, but I would recommend only using such storytelling methods sparsely, as they lack the personality and dimension of the regular strips.

And these characters have plenty of personality and dimension. Raamah is the school’s resident drama queen – never afraid to mouth off to his professors but too introverted to engage the girl of his dreams in a conversation. And of course, Barak reminds him of this at every turn. But make no mistake – never does Thunder and Lightning feel like high school or even Hogwarts. Though the social situations are similar, the atmosphere, character design and unique art style keep Thunder and Lightning largely rooted in originality.

Thunder and Lightning never turns out quite like we expect – we expect violence when Raamah must showcase his wolfish familiar to a class whose familiars look like a buffet to Barak, but the resulting bloodshed turns our expectations on our ear, coming straight out of left field.

There are a few lettering flubs where too much dialogue is crammed into too tiny a word balloon, and while the About page promises FAQ and character profiles are on their way, it would be nice to see at least some rudimentary information about creator and inspirations. Still, these are mainly nitpicks in a webcomic that’s lighting up the medium with a spark of originality.

Another consistently-updating webcomic, Least I Could Do powers up for a year-ending storyline. The current story finds main character Rayne gathering together the gang for some sort of company-sponsored adult film, but seeing how the last two words are company-sponsored, I have a feeling the results might not be what Rayne and co. have in mind.

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