Welcome back to the blog, all! I hope you had a fun two weeks while we were on our summer vacation; I spent the days doing Pokémon raids and surfing random webcomics online, trying to find a replacement for my dearly departed Always Human. There’s a lot of stuff out there, much of it diverse and much of it superbly creative. The one I found myself most interested in is called The Substitutes, a reality-bending fantasy by games artist Myisha Haynes.
The Substitutes challenges a trope as old as time. In the fairy tales, there’s always a chosen Hero who goes on a Quest, and ultimately, they get their adventure and their magical rewards. The heroes of The Substitutes appear to be people so far only known as “The Knight”, “The Engineer”, and “The Mage”. The comic opens (more or less) on them trekking through a forest, searching for a temple in which they know they’ll find weapons collectively called the Iscovari. But before they can get to the top of the temple, they see three strange people grab the weapons, jump into a mysterious portal, and escape.
Though Knight, Engineer, and Mage think that the three people are thieves, the truth is that these new people are travelers from our world who stumbled through a portal and into a destiny not their own. Freddie King, Emilio Ortiz, and Bianca Lyons are old friends and roommates, and while hanging out at a party, found themselves sucked into a portal and dumped into a strange, magical world called Ensenia Solari. When the three of them see the other portal in the temple, they figure it’s their way home. But for some reason, before they’re allowed to leave, they’re each presented with one of the Iscovari. This means that despite not being Heroes on a Quest, Freddie, Emilio, and Bianca are now the new Knight, Engineer, and Mage.
The Substitutes uses its unique premise to explore the idea of what “destiny” means, particularly in the fantastical genre, where prophecies are always fulfilled and Boys Who Lived always defeat Dark Lords. Furthermore, along with its incredible art (I’m especially fond of the glowing colors and backgrounds of the fantasy world), The Substitutes also celebrates diversity in both our world and the world of Ensenia Solari. Both worlds are filled with people of all races, genders, and body sizes—a great visual representation of the comic’s rebuttal of destiny and the usual sorts of people who are allowed to become Chosen Ones.
If I had one minor complaint, it’s that The Substitutes’s bimonthly Tuesday update schedule is too slow! I can’t wait to read more of the webcomic as it comes out. If this sounds like your cup of tea, you can check out The Substitutes here on its website and follow the creator on Tumblr or Twitter.
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