Sluggy Freelance

Review covers the series so far

Sluggy Freelance is a webcomic by written by Pete Abrams. However saying that Sluggy Freelance is a comic is a little like saying that there are a couple of drops of water in the ocean. Sluggy has been updating daily since 1997, so that's quite a lot of comic there.

Sluggy stars Torg, a goofy young man who is often between jobs, Riff, an inventor whose inventions tend to drive or at least trigger most of the plot-lines, and Bun Bun, a violent, slightly misanthropic, badass anti-hero who just happens to be a small lop rabbit.

The plot-lines are too numerous to list in a small review, but include time-travel, alternate universes, dimension hopping, apocalypses (both demonic and technological), demons, vampires, ghosts, air pirates, ninja, shape-shifting aliens, evil corporate organisations, a battle between Discworld-style anthropomorphic personifications of American traditions and to be honest I think I could go on for about 10 more paragraphs with this list.

When a comic gets as long as Sluggy, it gets increasingly difficult to give a detailed and subjective review, as there is a lot of comic to cover. Characters, running jokes and little annoyances all come and go. While each of these would be worth mentioning in a comic with a smaller run, they're all a tiny part of the huge mass that Sluggy has become. It's so big it's practically it's own universe, with it's own community of fans. I can give a few general critics however.

The appeal of Sluggy comes from many things; the characters are interesting and almost have a life of their own, the jokes are funny and the plot makes you come back each day, eager to find out what happens next. Many comics manage at least one or two of these, but Pete Abrams is good at all three.

You could say it's a bit too plotty. Understanding a few of the more technical or more complex arcs means reading through the odd wordy comic with characters explaining things in painstaking detail. Pete started out by doing these with a straight face, but eventually started lamp-shading things by having half of the cast members asleep by the time the explanations were over. Presumably any reader who is of the same mindset is expected to just ignore the explanation and take for granted that miniature nano-bots will kill us all, or that all of the cast members have suddenly been teleported to hell.

Most of Sluggy is original content, but Pete does also love doing parodies. Fully enjoying the parodies can often depend on knowing the source material, and whilst they are in progress they tend to temporarily genre-shift the comic. If you don't like the parody of the month then you skip through a few weeks of comics.

Currently there are nine books in the series in various states of being in print. Unfortunately only about half of the comic is currently in book form, meaning that if you want to get up to date then you're going to have to burn your eyes out reading from your monitor to get the rest of the way. I assure you it's worth catching up with though, because Sluggy Freelance has to be one of the best comic I've ever read, and very deserving of the top score.