I just ran across a Sseampunk web comic called Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether. So far Chapter 1 is up.
I have mixed feelings about it. The art is really excellent. The story and background -- I'm not sure.
I know, it's only Chapter 1 and I'm not supposed to know what's going on, since all of Chapter 1 is a swordfight between Lady Sabre and the evil Captain Hans, over something she's stolen. She fights Hans and about five of his henchmen, dispatches all of the henchmen (probably because they're wearing gasmasks -- that's got to be a terrible handicap in a sword fight) and then jumps into space to land on her waiting ship. Why she didn't do that to start with, instead of hanging around to fight, is one question which occured to me. Why none of the henchmen thought to bring a gun is another. (She did -- a derringer -- and shot two of them.) But the big question I have is why I should care.
Donald Maass, one of the smartest guys out there on the art of the novel, once said that the two types of scenes which bore him most are fight scenes and sex scenes. Both are exciting to do, but a lot less exciting to read about. He doesn 't say fight scenes are a waste of time, but he makes the point that until you know the characters and are invested in them, action scenes are just a bunch of people you don't care about running around and shouting -- and he's right! Starting a story with a big unexplained action scene has become a cliche, and in my opinion a very bad one.
Until you know the characters and what they want, there's nothing at stake in the action, so it's just . . . well, kind of pointless and boring. In this case it is doubly so, as Lady Saber spends the entire fight making wisecracks and grinning from ear to ear. She seems to know there is no danger of anything bad happening to her (or if there is, she apparently doesn't care), so that pretty much sucks any tension out of the scene. It's like watching George Cluney in some of his less successful action films. I don't care how bad the briefer says the situation is, as long as George has that sort of half-smirk on his face, it's clear he knows nothing bad's really going to happen and hell, he's read the script.
That was my real problem with the first chapter of Lady Saber and the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether -- it's just a long, pointless sword fight with no tension, suspense, or sense of danger. The art, as I said, is great, so we'll see if this actuallys grows a story, a plausible world, and most importantly some characters worth caring about.
Here's the link. By all means make up your own minds.