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Crossroads Comics #187 – The Fire Within

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

This week we’re taking a look at The Fire Within by XSnowshadowX (she/her). The Fire Within is a FireRed Nuzlocke comic that is a sequel to two written nuzlockes Darkness on the Horizon, a Pokémon White Nuzlocke, and Kindling the Flames, a Y Nuzlocke. It follows Lysander (he/him), the child of the protagonist of these other two Nuzlockes, as he begins his journey through the Kanto region. Despite its status as a sequel, don’t let this discourage you from reading The Fire Within. While I’d definitely recommend reading the prequels just to further support the author and her works, neither of them are necessary to understand the story of The Fire Within thus far. So while it does provide clarity on certain points, it’s not necessary for understanding them. So without further ado, let’s just dive into the spoilers section!

Spoilers Ahead

The Fire Within kicks off with a bang, setting the stage by having Lysander obtain his starter under a fake name, albeit not a very good one. He obtains a mute Bulbasaur named Aladar (he/him) and begins a journey through the Kanto region, with one major caveat: Lysander has no intention of taking on the Gym Challenge. This is a fact that is rather upsetting to Aladar and other members of Lysander’s team, causing them to continually undermine Lysander’s wishes to avoid battling and the Gym Challenge as a whole. This comes to a head when they force Lysander to participate in a battle wit Brock, and appears to be on the horizon once again with Misty. Their argument is that they can tell Lysander enjoys battling and want to encourage him to overcome his fears and past trauma in order to once again participate in the sport he loves. But, with that said, Lysander’s trauma is not something easily overcome and is something I anticipate will be a prevalent theme throughout the nuzlocke’s run.

So you might be asking, what exactly is this traumatic event that causes Lysander to not want to battle? Well, in order to properly explain it we need to give a little background. Lysander is originally from the Unova region and on his tenth birthday began his journey with a Darmuka named Terk, the only child of two of his mom’s Pokémon. However, as fate would have it, their journey was not meant to be and Terk’s life was tragically cut short after the two were attacked by a rabid Watchog. Additionally, as a permanent reminder of what had happened, Lysander lost his right eye and received copious amounts of trauma from the event. While the incident that day was clearly not his fault, the combination of his parents’ success (which we’ll discuss more down the line) as compared with his own failures led to Lysander giving up battling for good.

At the current point in the story, Lysander has begun to come to terms with the fact that Terk’s death was not his fault, and that battling can be helpful to others as well as fun. We see this discovery through the Mt. Moon arc, where Lysander and his team take on Team Rocket, and it’s currently the main motivation for Lysander’s progression through Nugget Bridge. However, it’s clear that Lysander isn’t fully convinced yet, as the party notes he’d be against them challenging Misty’s gym. Personally, I actually quite like this. It’s very obvious that Lysander suffered an intensely traumatic event and hasn’t really received proper therapy for it. He’s trying to cope with it by going on this journey and I hope this continues to be something of a running theme throughout the rest of the story.

I do wish the team was a bit more considerate of Lysander’s feelings though, since they’ve continually gone against his wishes by catching new team members and taking on the gyms despite Lysander stating he doesn’t want to take on the Gym Challenge. While I can understand they are eager and want to go on this journey, since for many members of the team that’s what they’ve wanted to do for most of their lives, the fact that they continue to go behind his back even after Lysander shares his trauma with them, is really infuriating. The team comes off as if they’re trying to “fix” Lysander and force him into further traumatic situations rather than actually help him. Lysander isn’t someone who needs to be fixed, so the fact that they’re pushing him to fight Team Rocket and plotting to challenge gyms behind his back reads as very inconsiderate and down right disrespectful on their parts. Rapunzel is really the only member of the team that actively listens to and respects Lysander’s opinions, which is part of why I think she’s the best character out of the bunch thus far.

With that said, I think Lysander’s team’s attitudes toward his trauma is purposely written that way though, as another means of potential character growth for the party as a whole. Mulan, in particular, has already started to show some consideration towards Lysander by talking Aladar out of challenging Misty’s gym, at least for now. It’s not much but it’s a start. I think it’s likely that the death of a teammate will ultimately cause them to better understand where Lysander is coming from. It will show them their hubris is being reckless and going around without Lysander’s consent, and ultimately cause them to be more considerate and understanding of his feelings as a whole. While I normally don’t speculate on future deaths, I think Rapunzel and Hercules both make for likely candidates, though since both are very interesting characters, I’d hate to lose either of them. With that said though, how this death will impact Lysander remains to be seen, though I can’t imagine it’ll end well.

With all that said, another theme that I really like in the story is Lysander’s constant feeling of being in his parents’ shadows. As I mentioned before, The Fire Within is a sequel to two other written nuzlockes, with Lysander being the child of the protagonist of those nuzlockes, Maria. Canonically, Maria is married to N from Pokémon Black and White, and she is also the daughter of Lysandre from XY. This makes not only for a very interesting lineage for Lysander, but also leaves him with big shoes to fill. Being the son of a pair with three Pokémon championship titles between them leaves a child with a lot of pressure and high expectations. It’s only natural that he’d feel inadequate by comparison and struggle with finding his own way, especially after Terk’s death. I hope to see Lysander grow more confident as the comic goes on, since despite all his trauma, he has already started to show growth as a person despite all that he has faced in the first leg of his journey.

I’m also very eager to see more of Lysander’s relationship with Scarlet, since XSnowshadowX has already laid some interesting foundation with regards to their past relationship. Terk’s death definitely impacted them both in different ways, causing a lot of strain on their relationship. Since both of them are around 15 years old, their reactions aren’t the most mature, so I am hopeful that this journey helps them not only patch things up, but also helps them both grow. It’s obvious they both have inner struggles that they will need to overcome if they don’t wish to lose each other or their Pokémon friends during the course of their journey.

Spoilers End

All in all, The Fire Within is a great nuzlocke comic so far. Not only does it have an interesting story so far, but the character designs and art are really nice too. They’ve shown definite improvement over the comic’s five year run thus far, and I can’t wait to see how much more XSnowshadowX will improve by the time the comic reaches its conclusion. I also really like that while neither of the prequel stories are required to understand The Fire Within‘s plot thus far, there are callbacks for those who have read the stories. For instance, the reason Lysander picked Bulbasaur as his starter is because his mother picked fire and water-type starters in her previous journeys. It’s a really neat detail that I enjoy! I can’t wait to see how the characters also grow during the course of the journey as they learn to work together as a team and overcome the frictions between them and their friends.

Also, it didn’t really fit anywhere else in this article, but I also wanted to say that I really like the nickname theme of Disney characters. It’s a neat little detail in the story that makes things fun, since while some of the Pokémon have personalities that mirror their respective Disney characters, like Mulan, others don’t! XSnowshadowX has also shown she’s not opposed to going for some of the more obscure names either, so I’m excited to see what other names pop up during the course of the comic and what sort of characters those Pokémon will be.

If you want to check out The Fire Within, you can read it on ComicFury, the Nuzlocke forums, and Deviantart. Be sure to check it out and maybe read Darkness on the Horizon and Kindling the Flames while you’re at it too!

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

Crossroads Comics
Land-Shaymin Listen to your darker side…
PMD: Chanterelle I’m sure it’ll be fine.
PMD: Explorers of Life Hm… well… this won’t end well.
PMD: Wildfire Awww what a cute family!
Rejuvenation: The Interceptor Journey Uh oh, that can’t be good.
Shinka: The Last Eevee That is not his name!
The Shaymin Café Guardian? What could that mean?

ComicFury Comics
Bloom: An Ultra Moon Nuzlocke Comic Cat cat cat!!
Digimon Mystery Dungeon Wonder what Digimon they’ll encounter in Tiny Woods.
Pokémon Abridgestery Dungeon Quick! While they’re distracted!
PMD: Burning Resolution Subtlety is key to blending in!
PMD: Golden Stones Goooooood morning!
PMD: Hollowed Dreams No thoughts, head empty, only want spicy berry.
PMD: On Borrowed Time Harsh but necessary words.
PMD: Terminus This is definitely the best way to gain someone’s trust.
The Fire Within Oooh neat Pidgey lore!

Deviantart Comics
Across the Divide Oh no, poor Flash!
Broken Sword Ah yes, Hatenna, the mood ring Pokémon.
Debtlocked Hm… wonder why they’re looking for Devon.
PMD: Hanging in the Balance I wonder if they’re already inside the dungeon.
PMD: Keepers of Light Gasp! Subterfuge!
Severance Yooo those are so cool looking Gyarados!!
Shining Sea LMAO savage, my man!
Soul Brothers Go Omelette Go!!
Sunlocke It’s Ya Boi!! Guzma!!

Off-site Comics
Ask Celebi Family So many kids!
Ask Executive Proton No one can say no to free dinner!
Ask N Oops! That struck a nerve!
Ask the Isle Ominous words.
Ask Sol Searchers Ooooh pretty!
Ask Team Spirit Ooh what could those be for?
Ask the Pokémutants Oh no…
Ask Willow the Leafeon Library lore!
Flake-n-Rudy That’s no good…
Team Next-Gen Oooh interesting!

Ongoing Conversation