Ryan Sohmer’s and Lar DeSouza’s brilliantly entertaining comic detailing the adventures of a hastily thrown together group of adventurers continues in issue #3 of Looking for Group. While there is a quest and a large cast of characters, this book has more in common with a late night pick up group in an MMORPG than it does The Lord of the Rings – and this is a good thing. There are plenty of little nods and homages to both the MMORPG genre and its pencil-and-paper originators ,such as Dungeons & Dragons. For example, in this issue, a slightly befuddled beholder makes an appearance simply to utter a prophecy then wander off to drool in a corner. Mix moments like that with Richard’s antics – and he is the epitome of the late-night jokesters who can be found trolling MMO chat channels from World of Warcraft to Rift – and you get an exceptionally entertaining read.
LFG #3 picks up right where #2 left off with Cale the hunter, Benny the troll cleric, Krunch the Minotaur, and Richard the undead warlock entering the gates of the lost city of Kethenecia. Richard makes the ultimate sacrifice (not really, though, since he’s already dead) to open a portal to allow the group to go back in time to when Kethenecia was thriving. Richard is left with Sooba, Cale’s pet panther, at a nearby town to recover his strength while the rest of the party moves into the city proper. Not a wise move, as Richard wreaks havoc on the town while his companions delve deeper into the mystery surrounding the lost city. The group also adds a new member to its ranks in the form of Pella, a female dwarf from Clan Breem. After the party is reunited, they fight an epic battle inside the gates of Kethenecia, and Cale is forced to make a decision that will change his life forever.
Sohmer’s epic quest plot, while good, is still standard fare for the fantasy genre. However, it is in the comedic moments – and there are plenty – where Sohmer really shines. From Richard’s take on Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech to his slaughtering of the citizens of Bertu beginning 4, there is a treasure trove of laughs throughout this comic. The “I have a dream” speech is one of the laugh-out-loud highlights with an offended Richard saying, “I find this constant discrimination against my kind (meaning warlocks) rather offensive … I have a dream that one day we will no longer be judged upon by how different we are from you. I have a dream that one day, we will be looked at and labeled, simply, as ‘friend’ … I have a dream that one day, when all this occurs, that we take advantage of surprise and slaughter as many of you as possible.” Later, when he wakes up in Bertu, the citizens greet him by smiling and saying, “Hail!” so Richard responds in kind, but when he says, “Hail!” he brings forth a hailstorm that begins the slaughter. Sohmer skillfully weaves these comic moments in with the seriousness of the epic quest, and that is what makes him a master at the art of script writing.
DeSouza’s art is wonderful, and he captures the look and feel of both fantasy MMORPGs and their tabletop forebears with great skill. He is a master at conveying his character’s expressions and gestures in a way that complements the script. Take Richard’s crucifixion scene on page eight for example. In the main panel, he is nailed to the portal frame – you can’t even see his face under his cowl – and is in the classic pose associated with the Catholic crucifix, while in an inset panel Benny, with a serious look on her face, whispers, “Is no one going to ask how he managed to crucify himself?” Describing that scene only with words does not provoke the side-splitting laughter that DeSouza’s art inspires.
Looking for Group #3 is a playful romp through the fantasy genre that will leave readers laughing out loud and begging for more, whether they are MMORPG players, tabletop gamers, or Tolkien fans. Anyone who falls into any of those categories needs to read and collect the LFG comics.