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Crossroads Comics #152 – Undertow

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

This week we’re taking a look at the Moon Nuzlocke Comic, Undertow by Riboo. Undertow follows Kai, a member of Team Skull given a second chance at the Island Challenge by the will of the Tapus. This Nuzlocke comic is an interesting one from the onset because there aren’t many stories that follow characters who belong to villain teams, but if there were ever a region where such a concept could be well integrated into a story, it’s Alola. Undertow is also a fairly popular comic within the Nuzlocke community itself, having won the Gold medal in the category of “Best Main Character” and the Bronze medal in “Best New Comic” during the Nuzlocke 2020 Extravaganza. Today we’ll be going over the nitty gritty of Undertow‘s story so far and what exactly makes this Nuzlocke stand out from its peers.

As mentioned above, Undertow follows a member of Team Skull named Kai who has been granted a second chance at the Island Challenge per the wishes of Tapu Koko. This on its own is a very interesting story set up because Kai’s status as a member of Team Skull has a lot of implications throughout the story. For one is greatly affects how he interacts with very character. Certain characters like Kukui and Hala, who traditionally are very kind towards the protagonist, show outright disdain for Kai and the choice he made to join Team Skull in the first place. Kai is a;so already acquainted with some of the Trial Captains and Kahunas and it leaves great potential for Kai to know other major characters that are members of Team Skull, like Gladion or Guzma. Additionally, it adds another layer to Kai’s backstory, since the original Gen 7 games reveal that most, if not the entirely of Team Skull, consists of trainers who previously failed the Island Challenge. The implication made there is that Kai also falls into that category, but we’ll get further into that in the spoilers section. Still, having Kai be a part of Team Skull was a brilliant way to shake things up from the usual stories of Gen 7 because it completely changes the dynamic the main character has with those around him and makes Kai a much more interesting character as a result.

Spoilers Ahead

Kai’s status as a deliquent is a frequent and recurring theme throughout Undertow. Not only does it impact his relationships with characters like Hala and Kukui, it also has implications on his relationships with his Pokemon as well. This is most evident with his starter, Fox the Popplio. While Fox does agree to travel with Kai after being stolen from Hala, it’s obvious that Fox isn’t the most approving of Kai’s current lifestyle. His attitude throughout the first island is fairly judgemental especially when Kai steals food or is kicked out of places due to his status with Team Skull. This ends up escalating right before Kai’s first Grand Trial, when the two get into an argument over Team Skull and it ultimately causes Fox to refuse to fight in the trial. While Kai doesn’t end up needing Fox due to the rest of his team being well equipped to face off against Hala, that disconnect between the two is ever present in their minds, as it’s later pointed out that the Grand Trial could have been a lot tougher than it was if a few things had gone differently. Thankfully, for the time being, it appears their differences have been resolved, but I anticipate this theme may return in the future, especially as we interact with more of Team Skull.

Circling back to an earlier point though, Kai’s backstory is shaped greatly by his status as a member of Team Skull, with the biggest point being that he has participated in a previous Island Challenge. While it’s only been brought up a couple of times throughout the comic so far, Kai’s past trial experience is something that definitely looms over him. We’ve seen a few members of past team, an Incineroar and Alolan Raichu, and while their exact fates at the moment remain unknown, the implication is definitely there. Something happened between Kai and Tapu Fini, and while Kai himself was spared, it appears his team at the time was not. While I’m not certain at this time exactly what role Kai’s past trials will have on the story at large at the moment, I can definitely see it coming to a head on Poni Island, where Tapu Fini resides.

Spoilers End

All in all, Kai’s status as a member of Team Skull is probably one of the biggest themes in the story thus far and will likely remain such due to Team Skull’s presence on the various islands throughout Alola. As we move from Melemele to Akala, I’m curious to see how things change for Kai. The comic did somewhat imply that Team Skull grunts are treated differently depending on the island they’re on, with Melemele refusing to serve Kai at all while apparently there is no such issue on Ula’Ula, so I’d be interested to see how this impact Kai and his adventures. Additionally, I’m very excited to see who else along the Island Trials that Kai knows, since with each new characters come a bit more of Kai’s backstory. Most of all though, I’m extremely excited for Kai to start running into some of the bigger dogs of Team Skull like Gladion and Plumeria, who will likely be well acquainted with Kai and will have some interesting dynamics with him!

Kai’s only just set foot on Akala though so now is a great time to catch up if you’re looking for any other reasons to read Undertow. You can find the comic regularly updating on Deviantart and Tapas. I also highly recommend you consider supporting the comic and Riboo if you enjoy it. You can do so by signing up for their Patreon!

I also want to give a quick shout out to PMD: Adventures In Viraska by my buddy, Searingblight. They finished their comic after seven years this past week, and while I plan to give them a right and proper review next week, I just wanted to give them a quick shout out this week to congratulate them on such an amazing achievement. Not many can say they’ve finished a comic, especially after that long, but despite everything, not only did the comic show continual improvement in the writing, art style, and battle choreography, but it also survived the dramatic leap from a sinking ship onto an entirely new platform, where they basically had to start from scratch again. I think that’s pretty noteworthy. So congratulations to them, and look forward to that review next week!

And without further ado, let’s check out the rest of this week’s lineup!

Crossroads Comics
Land-Shaymin Shaymin says gay rights!
PMD: Chanterelle Finally someone with a sense of direction.
PMD: Crossroads It seems Natalya is up to something!
PMD: Explorers of Life Doesn’t feel like the best time for this but go off I guess.
PMD: Wildfire Zipped away!
Pokemon RP: The Lost Island Phoenix needs to learn some patience.
Pokemon: Shadow of the Sun Seems Aster is a bit worse for wear.
Pokemon: Team Buckshot Hmm a few of those background characters look familiar!
Pokemon X Adventures It’s time for a montage!
Renegade Redemption Sometimes it’s okay to be selfish.
Shinka: The Last Eevee Now here’s some familiar faces!
The Shaymin Cafe Yay they’re all trans!

ComicFury Comics
In Blood We Rise Some grim, but necessary, worldbuilding at hand here.
Myths of Unova They’ve both come a long way since we last saw them.
Pokemon Abridgestry Dungeon Something here looks different.
PMD: Adventures In Viraska And with that, the story finally concludes, after 7 long years. Give them a round of applause!
PMD: Anamnesis What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
PMD: The Bonds Between Time Introductions all around!
Slumbertown The composition of this page is very well done.
Team Bluestar Skitty is pretty cool.

Deviantart Comics
Autumn in Sinnoh If you look closely you can see the exact moment his heart snaps in half.
Fallen Flowers Undyne is back in the game! Heck yeah!
Golden Sun Woohoo! She’s doing it!
Mahiwaga Wonder where he washed up.
TC-96 Seems things REALLY came to a head here.
The Caretaker I’m sure this’ll end fine.
Trick of the Night Who doesn’t love jerky for breakfast?
Wanted! Yeah we’ll see about that, bud.
What the Water Gave Me Well that sounds like trouble.
When Little Emma Ran Away Time for the dreaded Mars fight.

Off-site Comics
Ask the Beta Ooh look at all these cute friends!
Ask the Isle Ooh this is some interesting worldbuilding surrounding PokeSpeak.
Ask the Traveller It’s time for the moment that has been a long time coming. Let Judgement Day begin.
Ask Prince Manaphy What a cute display!
Fizzy Bizzness Harsh, but the asker has a point.
Tall Grass Ghosts All good choices.
Team Next-Gen Seems Leda is not one to be messed with.

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