The Penny Arcade brand name is one synonymous with quality. Now more of a media juggernaut than anything resembling just a webcomic, the adventures of Gabe and Tycho have evolved from two guys talking about their passion for gaming in all its forms to the first (and almost unanimously most trusted) source for gamer satire. The duo have run the gauntlet, with a ridiculously successful children’s charity and lucrative annual convention under their belt as prizes along the journey. With all of these accomplishments under the PA empire and an amazing pedigree to live up to, is it really any surprise that a collection of the webcomic that started the whole thing rolling is among the most professionally produced collections out there?
No. The answer is no. And there’s your review.
Ok, fine, here’s some more words about the book. The collections, published by Dark Horse Books, represent the best in webcomics collections. This third collection clocks in at 128 well-binded pages and contains all that you would expect from a professionally produced edition of this sort. After a scathingly bitter foreword by one Scott Kurtz and an introduction by Tycho himself, (appropriately titled, “Presenting the Introduction: Wherein the Author Relates a Personal Anecdote of Startling and Perhaps Even Disarming Authenticity”) the strips start with the first of January in the year 2002 and run through to the end of that year.
In this smattering of strips, you’ll find a crying devil, homo-leaning exploits between Gabe and Spider-Man, analogies galore, (usually ending in a bloody mess) the birthing of such PA staples as Mr. Period and The Cardboard Tube Samurai, and at least 127 other examples of dudes who definitely do not keep it Lunchbox. On a more personal note, this gem from mid-August of 2002 marks one of the first PA strips I ever read, and certainly the most indicative of the snarky humor the duo possesses. So if you read PA regularly and are (for whatever reason) hoping for something different with this book, then put it down and regress to the Home Gardening section; the usual M.O. of slander against gaming developers and maiming each other to death (nearly doesn’t cut it for these two) is present and in plentiful supply with The Warsun Prophecies.
There is new content, however, in the form of all-new commentaries on every single strip as well as a few pages of sketches from the hip-deep-in-development PA video game, Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. Considering the amount of extra content in the last collection (more than 40 pages worth) the meager selection should be grounds for the removal of at least one Golden Fist. With content as high-quality and professionally packaged as this though, it’s to be expected that the selection of available extras isn’t going to be the same from volume to volume.
After all, these are strips that have been created at least half a decade ago; the craft from year to year is going to fluctuate and so some runs aren’t going to be as memorable as others. Still, for this reader’s money, PA has been and still is my favorite webcomic and so these books are a forgone conclusion in regards to my bookshelf.
Packed full of satire and bloody mayhem, I give this professionally packaged package nine Golden Fists of Justice Out of Ten
Penny Arcade Vol 3: The Warsun Prophecies