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Crossroads Comics #185 – The Long Way

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

Hey all and welcome back to Crossroads Comics! I missed y’all the last few weeks but this week we’re back full force with a right and proper review! This week we’re taking a look at The Long Way by Alex Nidas (he/him). This comic is a nuzlocke comic, but it’s something of a unique one for reasons I can’t elaborate without getting in spoilers. However, if you’re looking for a comic with a long overarching story, interesting characters both from the games and original in design, as well as featuring multiple stops along the journey, this is one of the comics I’d highly recommend to you.

The Long Way‘s title pretty much says it all, this is intended to be a long arduous journey for our hero, Leo Fada (he/him). Leo is your average college dropout just trying to get by when he wakes up in what he presumes to be one of his wildest dreams yet: a journey in the Pokémon world. However, what Leo presumes to be a dream, is actually a reality, which makes for a rather interesting setting and storytelling in the initial part of the run. We’ll get into that more in the spoilers section though.

Spoilers Ahead

Speaking of spoilers, let’s not beat around the bush any longer and go straight into it. As I said earlier, The Long Way isn’t like your typical nuzlocke comic, as it varies in one major way: it spans across multiple regions. The Long Way begins as a LeafGreen Nuzlocke challenge, and actually successfully completes that leg of the journey, only for Leo to suddenly find himself doing a second installment of his journey in the Johto region for a SoulSilver Nuzlocke. It’s not often that you see something like this occur. Mind you, it wouldn’t be the first time a comic has done this, with both A Petty Nuzlocke and Shiro’s Trial/Quest being among the examples of other Nuzlockes doing something similar, where the same protagonist carries over onto a second leg of the journey. But just because there’s other examples of this happening doesn’t mean it’s particularly common, as not only is it particular rare in general for a fan-webcomic artist to finish their comic, but to make a sequel afterwards is even moreso. What makes The Long Way even more interesting though is how it goes about its region spanning story, since it’s not a sequel, but rather a continuation. We’ll get into that a little later though.

First before we dive in the SoulSilver nuzlocke, we need to overview the LeafGreen arc and what makes it so interesting. Leo as a character is not particularly likeable initially, and it’s for some particularly well written reasons. As previously mentioned, when Leo awakens in the Kanto region, he believes this all to be some sort of dream or game, and treats pretty much the entire first half of the Kanto arc acting as such. Unlike everyone else in the world, Leo cannot understand his Pokémon and thus doesn’t properly consider that his Pokémon might have emotions or sapience like he does. As a result, the reader, who is aware of these facts, is inclined to dislike Leo, since he’s treating his Pokémon as disposable and replaceable. He even says as much during his first rival fight. The characters in the world around him react accordingly as well, with the rival, named Danny, continually trying to talk sense into Leo throughout his journey to little avail. It isn’t really until the Lavender Town rival fight that Leo gets the sense knocked, or rather I should say shocked, into him, and he realizes that there’s more going on here that meets the eye.

This is a huge level of character development for Leo and is the start of a whole new arc for him, where he tries to show extreme caution and caring towards the members of his team. He interacts with them more, gives them gifts, and overall tries to promise that he won’t allow anyone else to die nor will he box anyone as they’ve all earned their place on the team. Unfortunately, preventing deaths is a lot easier said than done, and inevitably there are more. As a result of Leo’s bond with his team, the deaths, which previously hadn’t hit very hard, now impact Leo (and by extension the readers) greatly. Several of them depict Leo and the team processing them afterwards and some of the characters, particularly BEEEEEEEEEEEE, lash out at Leo for his lack of preparedness and caring too little too late. This comes to a head in particular with Turt McGurt’s death, which serves as a very harsh reality check to Leo. We see him having a hard time processing the loss of his starter, his longest standing companion, and it’s only through speaking with Borealis the Lapras that he’s able to begin to process the pain in a healthy way.

While all of this is going on though, Alex Nidas cleverly lays the ground work for a subplot of greater magnitude, that is definitely intended to become the main plot of the comic as a whole in the future. The lead gets buried pretty thoroughly during the Kanto arc but it’s started to come out full force in the Johto arc and I am very eager to see where it goes. Now this is massive spoilers for the comic, so I’m going to give one final warning. If you don’t want to be spoiled to a major twist regarding the characters as well as the end of the Kanto arc, turn back now.

So essentially, throughout the entirely of the Kanto arc we see bits and pieces of Giovanni and his probable involvement with the Mewtwo creation plot. The biggest moment involving this is when Cinnabar Island Mansion is burnt down. Unlike in most instances involving the mansion, The Long Way makes it clear that this is a recent event and that it was Danny behind the plot. From there things only get more complicated, with Leo successfully beating Danny in the champion fight, only for Lance to shoot him. Leo wakes up seemingly unharmed in New Bark Town with more questions than answers as he starts the beginning of a new journey. He ends up figuring out that not only does the world thing he’s dead, but that Danny was Leo’s killer, forcing Danny to go on the run and allowing Lance to secure the champion seat. Low and behold who should Leo run into by Danny, taking the role of Silver for the duration of the Johto arc. Danny sports a new look and also starts a new team, but the mysteries don’t end there. During a Danny specific page, it’s revealed that Danny, as well as Leo (or rather who Leo replaced in this world) are/were part of some secret organization and that they were the ones behind the creation of Mewtwo. At this point in time it’s unclear what this organization’s relationship with Team Rocket is, or if they’re one in the same, but regardless it seems clear that they were at least working together for the Mewtwo project. Danny has divulged some of this to Leo, but not all of it, particularly the important detail that Leo has taken the fall for the burning of the mansion. Given so far Danny’s interactions with Leo have been at roughly the same locations as the Silver encounters in-game, the next time hypothetically we can expect to see him is around Ecruteak, so I’m very curious to hear more about what’s going on surrounding this mysterious organization.

Going off the trail a bit, I have a couple theories as to what’s going on. One notable thing this comic does is giving eye colors to important characters. Leo, Danny, Lance, and Giovanni have all had colored eyes. This is very significant because notably out of those four, Giovanni is the only one to lose his eye coloring, with his eyes changing from grey with white pupils to the standard white with black pupils for the final gym fight only. Additionally, up until this point, Giovanni was also really the only character to have colored text besides the Pokémon. All the humans have white speech bubbles with black text, while Giovanni had white/glowing text on a black/gray speech bubble, likely meant to match his eyes. However, when we see him in the eighth gym battle, he’s got the standard text bubble. Both of these changes specifically happen after Cinnabar Mansion is burnt down, where we see at the end of that page that Giovanni says “Fine then I was planning to leave soon anyway.”

So to me, it’s fairly obvious that whoever that was, prior to the eighth gym, wasn’t actually Giovanni. This explains why Giovanni seems rather casual and confused when Leo assaults him. He, presumably, has no idea of what has occurred of the previous few months, nor of the pain he has caused Leo and his team. Going a step further though, The Long Way started to use colored text for other human characters too, particularly those with eye colors like Lance, Leo, and Danny, which makes things interesting when once again we see the white text. This time we see it from a mysterious caller in that Danny exclusive page I mentioned earlier, with the text being on a blue bubble instead of gray like before. Regardless, I think this is still the same person, or thing, that was controlling Giovanni earlier in the story. I believe they were using Giovanni, and Team Rocket by extension, to create Mewtwo, or something of that nature (as we still don’t technically know for sure that it was Mewtwo being created in the lab). What Lance, Danny, and Leo’s roles in this are, I’m not sure, but it’s clear they’re all agents of this mysterious organization and that Leo will likely have to face this organization in the future, as they look to be the true villains behind the curtain for the story.

Or at least that’s my theory.

Spoilers End

In addition to being a very good read, The Long Way has other qualities that can quickly draw you in. For one, I quite enjoy the comic’s sense of humor. From the one liners to running gags and callbacks, it’s not uncommon for the comic to get a chuckle or laugh out of me. It lightens the mood a lot to make the darker moments hit a lot harder tonally. It may not hit home for everyone, but I certainly enjoy it.

Additionally, this comic is a great example to showcase marked improvement in terms of art. Alex Nidas has a fairly unique style, but he really comes into his own across the Kanto arc, with characters looking less stiff and having more proper anatomy as time goes on. Additionally, his designs also show improvement, with the comic not only featuring a unique take on Dragonite, but also new takes on the designs of several of the gym leaders and Elite Four members. It makes the comic feel more original while also depicting Alex Nidas‘s growth as an artist, which is really neat. Also, as if this weren’t enough to convince you, Alex Nidas was able to draw a person dabbing in the most recent chapter, and if that isn’t a sign of massive improvement from the initial parts of the comic, I don’t know what is.

All in all, The Long Way is a fascinating read. What starts out initially as a simple nuzlocke turns into a story about betrayal, individual growth, and region spanning conspiracies. From the very interesting story to the fun humor and steady artistic growth, there’s lots of reasons to read this comic, so be sure to check it out! You can find the comic on ComicFury, Deviantart, and the Nuzlocke Forums as a Part 1 and Part 2. The comic isn’t especially long, only about 75ish pages at the time of writing this, so it should be very easily bingeable. But if you’re eager to get caught up on the action, there is a recap page of Part 1, which will allow you to roll straight into Part 2, should you so desire. I’d personally recommend reading the whole thing first, but you do you!

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

Crossroads Comics
Ask a Staravia That looks like quite the impressive team!
Land-Shaymin The herd barrels towards you.
PMD: Explorers of Life They part ways, for now.
PMD: Rangers of Sky So many cameos, so little time! What a bustling place!
PMD: The Stones of Life Time for school!
PMD: Wildfire Aww what a cute team name!
Rejuvenation: The Interceptor Journey This is a nice place for a picnic.
Shinka: The Last Eevee Enter: The Genderfluid Agent of Chaos
The Shaymin Café Look at this new fancy Shaymin!

ComicFury Comics
April in Hoenn Explosions!!
Council of Immortals Interesting! I wonder why this is such an important task.
Eclipsed – Ultra Sun Nuzlocke Oh… n-no…
Pokémon Abridgestery Dungeon Time to steel your resolve, Kip.
PMD: Another Perspective YOU!
Spirited Souls He?
The Airship Experiment Wonder what this scavenger hunt is about.
The Long Way Ya basic!
The Power of Pouvoir It’s back!!

Deviantart Comics
Autumn in Sinnoh Oh that is DEFINITELY not good.
French’s FireRed Nuzlocke It’s a clean first fight!! I hope the others are the same.
Jet’s Black Nuzlocke O-Oh… oh dear…
PMD: Turncoats Focus on the job at hand.
Pokémon Royal A shiny Bisharp?? what’s the deal with that collar.
Rabbit Hole Together!
Spectacular Shining Pearl Nuzlocke Challenge Bartok, huh? Wonder where I’ve heard that name before.
The Essence of Being Savage call out!
When Little Emma Ran Away Well that can’t be good.

Off-site Comics
Ask Backpack Hypno Interesting…
Ask Executive Proton He is not amused!
Ask Life or Death I mean, fair I guess.
Ask N Look at this ABSOLUTE cutie.
Ask Sol Searchers Missing parts you say?
Ask the Isle Look at the size of that thing!
Asking Sticky Paws I feel like this is easier said than done.
Mila’s Manor She makes a point.
PMD: Paths to Requiem A voice, you say?
Team Next-Gen Gotta make sure that cheese is vegan!

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