Not a Villain

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3/5 – Interesting Premise, Room for Improvement

The story primarily follows Kleya, a former hacker decides to ‘go straight’ but has difficulty resisting the urge to go back to her villainous ways. The world is in a post-apocalyptic state and most people only see each other inside the virtual reality world of L.i.F.e. and the game-with-a-game simply called “The Game”, which is an MMO-style battle game that can be played within the simulation of L.i.F.e.

What’s Awesome About It?
The setting of Not a Villain is pretty interesting, and the way the characters react to the strange, virtual-driven world is interesting. The main character’s struggles with remaining anonymous as she accidentally gains popularity through her play of the game are intriguing, and while much of the background is left mysterious, you are left wanting to find out about all the secrets of the world. Those who’ve played MMORPGs will also appreciate some of the references to them and better understand the general structure of the world, although you definitely don’t need to be an MMO fan to enjoy the comic.

While the setting is interesting and the characters are pretty well-written overall, the comic suffers from a few things. The art, while it gets the point across, is pretty poor. That said, the decision to give each of the “sub-worlds” of the comic (the virtual reality of L.i.F.e., the game, and the actual reality) their own art style is an interesting choice and helps distinguish between places where otherwise it can be sometimes hard to tell where’s where.

The storyline too, while interesting, can be somewhat confusing at times, as there are quite a few characters and a lot of things that are merely hinted at. Some of this likely has to do with the story not being that far along particularly, although there have been just over 250 pages as of the time of this review. Overall, I’d say it’s quite reminiscent of a manga-style plot, so if you’re a manga fan you’ll probably enjoy it. That said if you’re the kind who hates those kinds of stories, I’d probably steer clear.

My Thoughts
If you enjoy stories of struggles for redemption or if you find the premise of a world where everyone essentially has to rely on the internet (specifically an MMO) to communicate, you’ll like Not a Villain. Still, I feel it’s not for everyone, and the art definitely holds the comic back somewhat.

Still, I’d recommend it for those looking to delve into an interesting world and who don’t mind not always knowing what exactly is going on in the story and don’t mind the art style. But hey, it’s free, it has an interesting idea, and it’s pretty well done. You’re not going to lose much by checking it out and you may just find a comic you really enjoy.

Reviewed by: Stephen Bretall – Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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