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Crossroads Comics #166 – Broken Sword Nuzlocke

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

This week we’re taking a look at Broken Sword Nuzlocke by Dirtwig-Draws (he/him). A fair warning before we get started, this comic is rated 18+ by the author. While nothing explicit, such as full nudity, has or will be shown, there is a fair amount of language and themes that are not suitable for minors. All characters in the story involved with such themes are 18+ so there’s no need to worry on that front, but I wanted to get that disclaimer out of the way before we got into the actual story itself.

Broken Sword Nuzlocke is, as the name suggests, as a Nuzlocke comic of Pokémon Sword. The story follows Moira Gladstone, a twenty-four year old that likes to drink, smoke, pick fights, and generally make people uncomfortable. Afflicted with strange dreams and weird prophecies, Moira is a bit of an unwilling participant in this year’s Galar Gym Challenge, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t gonna give it her all. Accompanied by her starter, Clemont the Grookey, Moira is ready to punch and flirt her way through everything the Galar region has to throw at her, or at least so she thinks. Whether or not she and her team will be able to stand up to challenge is something you’ll just have to see by reading Broken Sword Nuzlocke.

Spoilers Ahead

At the time of writing this review, Broken Sword Nuzlocke has just passed the second gym marker and already Dirtwig-Draws has made massive improvements to the world and story of Pokémon Sword. While Pokémon games aren’t exactly known as narrative masterpieces, Pokémon Sword and Shield in particular, in my opinion, suffer from rather bare bones storytelling and bad pacing. Many Nuzlocke retellings of these games do well to fix this and Broken Sword Nuzlocke is no exception.

Right out the gate, the author makes it clear that this is going to be a more mature version of the story, featuring booze, smoking, and sexual references, but not so much that it’s distracting. These aspects of Moira’s character set her apart from a lot of other Nuzlocke protagonists in really hammering home not only is she an adult, but also one who really doesn’t have her life together at the start of the comic, giving Dirtwig-Draws a very solid foundation on which to build her character arc. Already by the end of the second gym, we see Moira growing as a person, as she becomes a lot more considerate of her Pokémon team and their wants/needs than she was at the start. Additionally, having Moira as a less put together person really highlights her dichotomy with Hop’s character. It makes for a very interesting dynamic between the two and I’m excited to see how that impacts Hop’s character arc personally, since I always felt like his story was one of the better written parts of Sword and Shield.

The influence of the more mature themes don’t stop with Moira’s character though, as they play a role in the story’s worldbuilding as well. One thing that I really like about Broken Sword Nuzlocke‘s expansion on the world of Galar is the inclusion of a mysterious Vice Chair character. We don’t know much about the Vice Chair yet, but already they’ve established themselves as a very interesting person to keep our eyes on, as it seems they will play a very large role in the obstacles that Moira faces during her journey through the Galar region. Already we’ve seen Moira be practically assaulted by members of the press in an effort to make her look bad, with the implication being that the Vice Chair had some role in both of those instances. With Chairman Rose already being a shady individual in the original Pokémon Sword story, I’m very interested to see how his role is changed with the introduction of this Vice Chair character, and how they together will impact Moira’s journey in the future.

The introduction of this mysterious Vice Chair also brings up another aspect of the story’s worldbuilding that I have enjoyed so far: the larger emphasis on the pro-sports aspect of the Galar Gym Challenge. Pokémon Sword and Shield were the first games in the Pokémon franchise to really embrace the whole “gym battles as entertainment” theme that other parts of the Pokémon franchise, such as the anime, had played with in the past. Broken Sword Nuzlocke takes this a step further by showing the readers the behind-the-scenes of the league, such as discussions of the challengers, their potential impacts of the ratings of the challenge, and other details of that nature. This brings in a lot of very interesting elements to the story, as not only does it make Moira a more interesting character since she very much bucks the typical model of what the circuit wants for its challenges, but it also gives Dirtwig-Draws a clever narrative tool to explain potential future tragedies and obstacles that Moira will face along her journey. As previously mentioned, it was already implied that Moira’s two press encounters were orchestrated by the powers that be in an effort to make her look bad, and that is likely only the beginning of what she will face in the future as she ventures further through the challenge.

One thing I am very curious to learn more about as the story continues is the role that Spikemuth will play in the story’s lore and overall worldbuilding. Through Moira’s interactions with Marnie and Team Yell, we’ve been able to gather that she bears some sort of animosity or grudge to the city, but exactly as to why isn’t clear yet. As the seventh gym in the circuit, it’s likely we won’t see the full scope of this for some time, but given that Moira is set to reunite with Marnie at Kabu’s gym, I anticipate we will learn more about it soon enough. From what I can gather, I believe it has something to do with Moira’s mother, Layla Gladstone. Currently a Budew breeder, she was once a participant in the gym challenge herself, and a fairly popular one at that (at least with audiences), giving Moira quite the legacy to live up to. It is stated on her character reference that she dropped out at the sixth gym, though whether this was before or after she beat it is unclear. The comic makes it very clear that Layla bears an intense grudge against Spikemuth over something that happened ten years prior, as she refers to Marnie as “Spikemuth Sludge” when Moira first mentions where the other girl is from. We don’t know exactly how long ago it was that Layla took on her own gym challenge, but I’d be willing to bet that it’s no coincidence Layla’s challenge notably ended at the sixth gym. With Spikemuth as gym number seven, it just lines up all too well. As for what exactly happened though, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Spoilers End

There’s a lot more I could cover in terms of what Dirtwig-Draws has done to really flesh out the world and story of Broken Sword Nuzlocke, but I don’t want to spoil everything as I think these are probably the comic’s greatest strengths. For only being two gyms in, Broken Sword Nuzlocke has done exceptionally well at making the region of Galar feel more alive and interconnected with the world around it. It gives a great explanation for the lack of Pokémon available with Galar that not only utilizes elements of established in-game canon while also setting up why the elements of a Nuzlocke, such as Pokémon death, exist in this world. Dirtwig-Draws also isn’t afraid to include his own personal headcanons about the Pokémon world and its characters as well, which I quite like since it not only references some familiar faces you wouldn’t otherwise get to see in the Galar region, while also establishing relationships that make some of the background characters feel a lot less two dimensional. Plus, the inclusion of a Scottish protagonist is always a fun time. This also doesn’t even begin to cover the very interesting character designs that we get to see as the comic progresses. While Dirtwig-Draws, by his own admissions, stays fairly on model for the first few designs, you can definitely see him starting to experiment more as the story progresses. In particular, I really liked his take on Gossifleur and Eldegoss, and I can’t wait to see what other interpretations of various Pokémon he does down the line. Overall, Dirtwig-Draws has done an excellent job both writing and illustrating this story so far, so I am very much looking forward to seeing what he does with it in the future.

If you’d like to read Broken Sword Nuzlocke yourself, you can find it on Deviantart and on Tumblr. You can also support the author by following him on Deviantart and Tumblr as well.

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

Crossroads Comics
Eldritchfell Appearances can be deceiving.
PMD: Chanterelle They’ve been given their mission!
PMD: Rangers of Sky Return of the sus-room.
Pokémon RP: Lost Island A powerful strike from Phoenix!
Renegade’s Redemption Take the shot!
Shinka: The Last Eevee Ah yes a “business trip”. Of course.
The Shaymin Café Another beholder…

ComicFury Comics
Adventures In Naljo: A Pokémon Prism Nuzlocke New teammate acquired!
Pokémon: A New Beginning They’ve been pushed into a corner!
Pokémon Haunt Some welcome hospitality.
Pokémon? How Original… Delivery side quest first, then training.
PMD: A Fractured Time Now who is this?
PMD: Boundless Adventures Can’t you just find another one for your girlfriend?
PMD: Explorers of Life I feel like he should just come to expect this by now.
PMD: Gods’ Lament In a bout of madness?
PMD: Legend Seekers Oh dear that doesn’t look pleasant.
PMD: Powers of Night So it wasn’t a dream after all!
Pokémon Shine Anticlimatic storytelling ahoy!
Slumber Town Hugs from friends are the best.
The Hisui Gang Now that’s strange.

Deviantart Comics
A Knight’s Gale Do you want your daughter to run away? Cause this is how you get your daughter to run away. No time to mourn. We must press forward.
Broken Sword Nuzlocke Run!! Run as fast as you can!
Chasing Leaves I’m sure he’s fine.
Dear Sergio A precious BEAN!!!
Pokémon Explorers Comic An excessive amount of Weavile!
PMD: Keepers of Light That seems like quite the dire situation.
Soul Brothers I was not prepared for this level of heartbreak.
Sunlocke That… could have gone better.
The Brains and the Brawn Come on buddy, you gotta pull through!
The Nateventure To trust the Mudkip or not to trust the Mudkip. That is the question.
What the Water Gave Me I would die for these Tauros and their singular brain cell.

Off-site Comics
Asking Anorith The horror!
Ask Hisuian Zorua A pair of cutie foxes!
Ask October Fox What a tired fox!
Asking Sticky Paws It’s a scuffle for the orb!
Ask the Isle Oscar isn’t going down without a fight!
Blue Espeon Poor Teiji has been through a lot.
Crewel Intentions Oooh delicious delicious lore~
Darling Zorua A human disguise, you say?
PMD: Paths to Requiem The journey finally begins!
TC-96 I can’t imagine how Mewtwo feels about this.
Team Next-Gen Yeah… it seems like a stressful job.
The Red Vaporeon Must be a lot of battles then.

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