Maybe one day, we’ll be able to actually experience true virtual reality gaming instead of reading about it in comics and watching it on film. But when that day comes, will it be as glorious as we imagined? Or will it be a complete sh*t-show as demonstrated in the first volume of Double Jumpers? This comic really hammers home the concept of “worst-case scenario” when it comes to virtual reality gaming. And you know what? It’s an entertaining and innovative ride that is well worth the read.
Double Jumpers follows a team of programmers as they test out a new virtual reality video game they’ve created called The Dungeon Lords 2: The Darkheart Chronicles. However, while they’re playing around in the simulator, a can of energy drink is spilled onto the system, causing a glitch that traps the players in their characters’ bodies. At the same time, the video game characters, known as the Dungeon Lords, are pulled out of the game and thrown into the bodies of their players. You can guess how much trouble this causes for both parties…
The world of The Dungeon Lords is as generic as can be. You have your typical fantasy setting in a realm filled with goblins and orcs and dragons and magic spells and whatnot. The main characters include your stock archetypes like the wizard, the warrior, the barbarian, the thief, and others. For someone who loves the fantasy genre and anything having to do with The Lord of the Rings or World of Warcraft such as myself, this was awesome. As cliche as everything was, I still had a great time whenever we jumped back into the fantasy world setting. It was a blast watching the gamers trying to make their way through the game, knowing what’s going to happen next since they programmed the world and wrote the script. On a side note: I loved the fact that two of the gamers were gender-swapped when entering the game. The misogynistic douchebag Milo was put into the body of the female rogue, while the adventurous intern Maxine took over the role as the huge barbarian. The way they deal with these reversed roles is enjoyable, and the whole situation brilliantly reflects on the general attitude you might see with some sexist gamers.
Back in the real world, the Dungeon Lords try to navigate human society to the best of their ability. It reminded me of this old film called Just Visiting where two medieval knights are transported to modern-day Chicago and get into all sorts of shenanigans because of the strange new cultures and practices. The Dungeon Lords get into a bar fight, venture to a strip club, lose money gambling, max out their credit card, and then get arrested – so they essentially get to experience an average American bachelor party. I laughed really hard at one point when the Dungeon Lords get into a brawl and one of them sprays a can of Axe Body Spray in his opponent’s eyes. Another Dungeon Lord remarks how unusual it is that we have axes that can fit in such small bottles.
Like the fantasy world of The Dungeon Lords, the story is a bit on the predictable side. You can guess the personality and roles of the characters after only reading the first page of the comic. We have the leader, the douchebag, the shy guy, and the girl. It’s all fairly stock. Fortunately, writer Dave Dwonch is able to add a bit of character development for each of the programmers and their Dungeon Lord counterparts. No two characters are exactly the same. I’m hoping that by Volume 2, we’ll have even more development to flesh everyone out even further. I’m especially curious to find out more about Milo and why exactly he’s such a sexist prick.
I also enjoyed the nerdy tributes that I stumbled upon throughout the story. There’s one blatantly obvious reference to a classic scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and another more subtle line influenced by Han Solo in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. There were most likely a lot more references sprinkled into the comic, but I’ll have to go back and look for them. It was a fun extra tidbit that only enhanced the reading experience.
Bill Blankenship‘s artwork is on-point. Every little detail is perfect on all of the characters. The way the scenery and people are colored and inked almost looks like something you’d find in an actual cell-shaded video game. At the beginning and end of the volume, you’ll find pixelated versions of the main characters, which look like they came directly from an old-school Nintendo game. My one nit-picky issue regarding visuals is that the word bubbles are sometimes placed in awkward arrangements. Normally, I read the bubbles from left to right and up to down. In some instances, I found out that the bubbles were switched, and I accidentally read the dialogue in the wrong order. This happened very rarely, so it wasn’t enough to take away from the experience.
On a final note, I was a little surprised at how graphic some of the language was in this first volume. It didn’t bother me, but it caught me off-guard. You’ll notice right away what kind of language is going to be used, so when you see someone drop a cuss word immediately, expect to see more of it later on. In a few panels, it seemed a little too much. My friends and I talk like sailors when we’re at the bar, but I don’t think even we throw around that many expletives in our convos. I’m willing to let this tiny issue with the comic slide since I’m sure swearing is a pretty natural reaction when you’ve been inexplicably sucked into a video game. It’s never happened to me, but if it did, I’d probably be throwing out so many swears that Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith would blush.
I liked Double Jumpers a lot. The artwork was great, the fantasy video game setting was familiar yet refreshing, the jokes were solid, and the ending cliffhanger was tight. I’m looking forward to the second volume and learning about what happens next!
Have you checked out Double Jumpers yet? What did you think? What was your favorite aspect of the comic? Let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter!