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The Best of 2020: Crossroads Comics

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for Crossroads Comics!

But this week we’re changing it up a little! Rather than giving you the usual lineup, since this is the last Tuesday of 2020, we thought we’d look back at our five most popular Crossroads Comics issues from this year! We got to cover a lot of really great comics this year and even crossed the big 100 mark, but which columns were your favorites? We took a look at our analytics and selected the five most viewed columns this year, and we’re giving another shout out to those top five comics. Which comics made the cut? Let’s find out.

5) Crossroads Comics #90-Follow Your Pouvoir

Coming in at #5 is Crossroads Comics #90- Follow Your Pouvoir. This column turned the spotlight on the Omega Ruby nuzlocke, The Power of Pouvoir. Putting a spin on the games, this comic blends the PMD universe with the mainline series, where all of the main characters are Pokémon that form teams to complete various tasks, ranging from rescuers to gym challengers. The comic’s main trio, Blake, Charlie, and Milo, form two Challenge Teams in order to take on the Hoenn League. However, the task of actually completing the league isn’t going to be an easy one for any of them, as they each have a disability that makes battling all the more difficult for them. For Blake, it’s joint pain; for Charlie, it’s a lack of smell; and for Milo, it’s a lack of eyesight. Each has to learn how to adapt to a battling lifestyle with these disabilities, in order to ensure that despite them, they can still pursue their dreams just as any other challenger would.

When I last reviewed this comic, I praised it for its unique setting and interesting blend between the PMD and mainline games. The functionality of certain items, like Pokéballs, as well as the customs around events, like Gym Battles, work a bit differently in this universe, but they are all done in such a way that it still makes sense in accordance with the worldbuilding of this universe. As I said back then, it’s all woven together so seamlessly that it solves a lot of potential problems that might exist without the presence of those items or customs. In addition, I praised their characters, highlighting how fun and easy to love the cast is. This still remains true, with many of them seeing growth in the recent chapters both in the literal and metaphorical sense.

Current State of the Comic

When I last reviewed this comic, it was still in chapter 4 and a lot has changed since then. The team has changed around a lot, there have been losses, new characters introduced, and even stylistic changes. But the biggest change of all comes in the form of an announcement that the author, TerrytheTeryx, plans to reboot The Power of Pouvoir. As the author states in their announcement, he was really unhappy with the current state of the comic due to the first few chapters being rushed, causing important scenes and some jokes to be cut. So in order to fix this, the two year old comic will be rebooted and given a fresh coat of paint.

Personally, I’m rather excited for this. Reboots aren’t decisions to be handled lightly and it seems like TerrytheTeryx thought this over heavily before pulling the plug on the project. But with how much he’s grown recently in his art and writing skills, I think the new product will be a great improvement over the current comic. I wish TerrytheTeryx all the best in his reboot and hope that he gets to tell the story he wants this time around, character development, jokes, and all.

4) Crossroads Comics #120-A Girl Named Leaf

Ranking at #4 is This column is one of my personal favorites from this year as well, since it covers a comic type that I previously hadn’t covered before, creepypastas. The feature for this issue was the ask blog Fallen Pokémon Trainer, also known as “A Girl Named Leaf” or “Fallen Leaf”. It’s an ask blog inspired by the creepypasta, Fallen Leaf. I do a deep dive into the creepypasta itself as well as how the ask blog continues the story over in that issue, but to give a short summary, the creepypasta centers around the fact that no matter which gender the player is when they play Gold/Silver or HeartGold/SoulSilver, their opponent at the top of Mt. Silver is Red. This thereby erases the female trainer from FireRed/LeafGreen, Leaf, from existence. Both the creepypasta as well as the ask blog are meant to express the author’s rage and disappointment at Game Freak over how they have treated their game’s female leads over the years. Sparklingdemon does an excellent job conveying that through the blog’s ask responses as well as the creepypasta itself.

I gave this ask blog and creepypasta praise for a lot of things. For one it’s overall a very interesting lens to view the franchise as a whole through, especially with Leaf making appearances in newer games such as Pokémon Masters. And it’s something that has stuck with me since I read this creepypasta. In fact, speaking of Pokémon Masters, with the recent addition of N, it’s been made canon that the Hero of Truth in the Unova games was Hilbert, not Hilda, with the latter having no idea of the events that took place in Pokémon Black and White. And while the running joke in the community is that Hilda was out vibing it up in the Battle Subway, there’s a voice in the back of my mind that makes think this is one again another example of Game Freak seeing its female protagonists as lesser than their male counterparts. But at the same time, there’s also signs of this changing, with Gloria from Sword and Shield having been introduced to Pokémon Masters as well, and her sync pair being none other than Zacian, making her the canon hero of those games. So perhaps we will see more female protagonists in the spotlight in the future, who’s to say. But it doesn’t change the fact that this ask blog and creepypasta definitely give readers a new perspective on how Game Freak, and Nintendo as a whole, treats it’s female heroes, and it’s one that will stick with you throughout all your gameplay experiences. And that is the trademark of a great story.

Current State of the Ask Blog

Following the completion of the Magic Anon that was ongoing when I did the review of this ask blog, Sparklingdemon announced on October 30 that A Girl Named Leaf would be going on an indefinite hiatus in order for them to focus on other projects. While they hoped to return to this project in the future, due to the intense burnout they were experience with the ask blog, they felt it was better to shift their focus to something else. Since then, they’ve started up a new nuzlocke comic centered on another creepypasta ROM hack. Titled Ghostlocke, it’s a run through a hacked version of Pokémon Red, dubbed Pokemon Black (not to be confused with the Unova game). It’s a very infamous ROM hack that is inspired by the Pokémon Black creepypasta and has many grimdark features that allude to the original story. Having never read this creepypasta, I’m very excited to see what all Ghostlocke has in store for us in the future, since it’s already very interesting thus far, especially with the naming scheme the characters have. So if you liked Fallen Pokémon Trainer, I’d highly recommend giving Ghostlocke a read too!

3) Crossroads Comics #125-Pokémon X Adventures

Next up, coming in at #3, we have Crossroads Comics #125-Pokémon X Adventures! Authored by the wonderful, The Alolan PokeNerd, Pokémon X Adventures is another PMD styled story of a mainline Pokémon game. It follows Pin-Pin the Chespin on his journey to challenge the Kalos Gym League and become champion! And with his new friends by his side there’s no way they can lose!

I gave this comic praise in the past for it’s interesting integration of Pokémon into human roles, where Pokémon have entirely replaced humans in every aspect, but much of their technology remains the same. This includes the use of bags, badges, and the Poké Flute all being present in the story. Since then we’ve learned that some of these items have taken on new meaning and it creates a new and unique culture for the world of the comic itself. As the author stated in the comments of the latest update, in the world of Pokémon X Adventures, in order to join a team it’s typically customary to challenge them to a battle first in order for the two sides to get to know each other better and determine if the challenging Pokémon is a good fit. Badges also factor into this, because they are seen as symbols of strength, so teams with more badges typically have more requests for Pokémon to join them. Because of this, it’s very typical of Pokémon to wear their badges where it is visible, which explains why Pin-Pin has been wearing his since he won it. I’ve always found lore like this to be super interesting and I’m very excited to see what else will be unique to this world!

Current State of the Comic

With the recent hiatus announcement over on PMD: Lotus, it appears that this comic is The Alolan PokeNerd‘s main focus at the moment. Since we last reviewed the comic, a new team member has joined and currently the author is hosting a Q&A as well as a character poll as a short break in the chapter. So while updates are a bit slower for the time being, now’s the time to get your burning questions in to the author and the cast! If you’re interested in submitting a question or letting the author know who your favorite character from the story thus far is, be sure to check out their latest blog post. And, as a member of the official Crossroads Comics crew, you can definitely expect to see Pokémon X Adventures listed in Crossroads Comics over the next few weeks as it continues to update.

2) Crossroads Crossroads #116-Slumber Town

Now we’re getting close to the top here, at #2 is This one is a real unique one in that Slumber Town is the only original comic to have made the top five here, but rightly so! As I said in my initial review of the comic, Slumber Town has a lot of strong suits, including an interesting premise, compelling characters, and a very atmospheric setting. Not only does this story have a really intriguing story to tell, but it also does so very effectively through its visual medium, making use of speech bubbles and other aspects to convey the emotions that our main character, Romy, is feeling as she progresses through the story. When I wrote the initial column back in August, I used the example of page 57, but since then we’ve had plenty more examples due to the current shenanigans on going in the comic. Page 94 is another great example of visually conveying how Romy experiences anxiety, and as someone who has Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I relate to the visuals here a lot. It’s great to see how I’ve always felt conveyed in a very visual and accurate manner. It’s part of why Slumber Town remains as one of my favorite comics to date. It’s a comic I’d highly recommend to anyone, because it’s just that great of a read.

Current State of the Comic

Slumber Town recently hit 100 pages and just did a double update yesterday to celebrate it! In addition, since our review, Slumber Town also set up a few mirrors. You can now also check out updates on ComicFury and Tapas! Plus you can see a special Christmas themed update of Slumber Town in the new Tapas exclusive side series, Slumber Shorts. The author has also been going back and revising some of the older pages. You can check out the side by side comparisons for some of the newly revised pages over on their Twitter, and I’d highly recommend it because it’s really cool to see just how much the style of the comic has grown and changed since it began 100 pages ago. All in all, this comic is still going strong and continues to flaunt it’s visual and storytelling mastery with each update. And with this latest update, the author has commented that this is the end of the current scene, so now’s a great time to catch up in order to catch what’s new with the next scene!

1) Crossroads Comics #115-PMD: Rangers of Sky

And finally the one you’ve all been waiting for, the number one most viewed Crossroads Comics column this year is Crossroads Comics #115-PMD: Rangers of Sky! This is another comic that I’d highly recommend to any Pokémon fan and one that definitely deserves all the attention it can get. I gushed about this comic a ton during the initial review, but just to recap, PMD: Rangers of Sky is a collaborative black and white comic that follows the fledgling Pokémon Ranger, Eliza. Our story starts with Eliza and her more experienced ranger companion, Zayne, answering a distress call about a Pupitar causing a sandstorm. It seems like a simple enough task, until it isn’t. After the mission goes completely sideways, Eliza wakes up in a state of limbo with a mysterious creature in a well for her only company. The demon offers her a deal: help save “their world” and Eliza’s mistakes will be rectified. Under an intense time crunch, Eliza makes the split second decision to save the souls of her friends and herself, whisking her away to the wonderful world of Pokémon.

This comic is many things. It is intense, it is interesting, and it is very visually appealing to look at. It makes use of its black and white medium very well, using it to effectively convey tones and emotions in a way that shows a true understanding of the medium. On top of that it’s one of the few comics in existence that focus on Pokémon Rangers in any capacity, and while the majority of the comic is Pokémon Mystery Dungeon inspired, it’s nice to see the other side game getting a little love too. It’s one that very much deserves any attention it can get because the effort the two authors put into this story is truly phenomenal and I feel like anyone who is a fan of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon or Pokémon in general would really enjoy reading it.

Current State of the Comic

Since we last reviewed this comic, the prologue has ended and the first chapter has begun. Anticipations were high as Eliza made her way into the Pokémon world, and man has this comic not disappointed. It started off with a bang with a quick action sequence followed by the introduction of another main character. Eliza, now a Swoobat, is lost as she tries to figure out her new place in this world and what she’s meant to do to save it. One right after the other, these last few updates have hit us with worldbuilding bomb after worldbuilding bomb, and I am just eating it up. It’s so creative and unique to anything else I’ve seen done before and that makes it very enjoyable. Plus it’s nice to see some underappreciated Pokémon like Swoobat and Breloom get some much deserved spotlight! All in all this comic continues to prove just how great it is, and with another update coming soon, it’s really worth taking the time to read it now. Seriously, it’s really great.

Concluding Thoughts

All of the comic listed here today are phenomenal in their own right. Whether it’s effective visual storytelling, interesting integration of technology into a Pokémon world, or stories that really make you think about how you interact with the world around you, these stories are all impactful and worthwhile reads. I also think it’s important to note that these comics all have one common thread between them. While they are all various genres and types of comics, some more lighthearted and others much darker, some related to Pokémon and one not, all five of these comics have a single common thread between them that links them all together in my mind, and likely contributes to why they are the type five most viewed articles this year.

The authors reached out to me and thanked me for the feature.

It seems like a small insignificant gesture but it’s one that actually means a lot to me. In the 130 normal issues of Crossroads Comics, plus the five Crossroads Comics minis, and this special edition, it’s very rare that the authors ever interact with me post-feature. In the past I’ve sent the articles to the authors to let them know about the feature, but this year was the first year where I had authors reach out to me in thanks without my reaching out to them. TerrytheTeryx and The Alolan PokeNerd both reached out to me on ComicFury and even drew fanart for me as thanks. Sparklingdemon reached out to me using an old Instagram account of theirs just to let me know they saw and really appreciated the article. Macxidy over on Twitter thanked us and even retweeted our feature (and while we technically tagged them first, it’s not very often we get a response from authors that way). And finally, GreyCorsola, one of the two authors of PMD: Rangers of Sky, reached out to me on Discord to share her thanks along of those of her co-author. And while these are not the only examples of this happening this year, it really brightened my day whenever it happened, especially when it was out of the blue like that, because after so many years of writing this column, it was really nice to see that the authors still took notice and enjoyed my spotlight on them, even if it was just for a second.

I also wanted to give mention to Earthtonequeen, author of Shinka: The Last Eevee; Deer Head Xiris, author of Almost Empty; and Pokémon Explorers Comic. All three of these kind people were also among the authors that reached out and thanked me for the feature. Earthtonequeen and Deer Head Xiris even boosted our articles and Pokémon Explorers Comic drew me a bit of fanart as thanks! While their comics didn’t make the top 5 list this year, I wanted to show my appreciation of them, since it’s people like these authors that motivate me to keep doing this column.

We’ll be back to our usual lineup next week, but until then, have a Happy New Year! See you in 2021!

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