Beyond the Western Deep is one of those comics with a zillion pages devoted to lore dumps before it even starts. It's your typical medieval fantasy setting, you got the four great countries and the 'savage' tribes living in the mountains and the various cultures inspired by real-world cultures. Nothing that remarkable, but I don't think I'd call it bad. It gave off that sort of vibe where I didn't hate reading it, but it wasn't grabbing me, either.

I think part of the problem is that the author is clearly not a linguist. The names are so goofy and it's clear he was just trying to mash together various phonemes that sounded cool or mystical to him, with no respect for grammar or syntax. "Erhmehn"? "Quinlan"? "Kennosh"? Gimme a break. Now, I'm not trying to criticize the author, Alex Kain, for not devoting months or years of his life to a subject he probably has no interest in, but... the four kingdoms are based off of real-world cultures anyway! What was wrong with just using LATIN for canid names?

If anyone else getting into this comic feels the same way I did, though - keep reading. It's more than worth it.

Around chapter 2, a canid general gets assassinated by a Lutren guard on a diplomatic mission. The canids hold their generals as demigods, similar to how the Romans considered the Aquila to be a holy symbol that couldn't be lost no matter what, lest Mars become angry with them. The canids then proceed to launch a war against Lutren and Sunsgrove in the name of revenge. This really kicks the story into high gear. Everything that happens after this is like a domino effect, one decision by a character from one faction leads to other characters from other factions shifting their plans which leads to otherwise unrelated characters from other factions forced into action or forced out of action, which leads to even more characters forced to adjust their strategies, and on and on. The whole thing is one massive high-stakes rollercoaster of tactics, scheming, zealotry, and political intrigue. I love it.

The one drawback for me is the characters, who aren't bad, in fact they're quite good and, importantly, there's no one who I felt at any point ever acted unbelievably, which is always a plus in my eyes - I think characters don't have to be realistic to be interesting, but they do have to be believable within the context of their setting. Of course an unbelievable character can still be interesting, but they will always, always, always be worse off for it.

Death Note is a great example - it's an awesome story, but the characters are completely absurd and frequently act in ways that are unbelievable considering the world they live in, such as L's challenge to Kira being broadcasted publicly for no real reason, or the FBI agent handing his ID over to Light during the bus-jacking, which should never have happened under any circumstances save mind control. This would be fine in a goofier setting like Gurren Lagann or Konosuba, but in Death Note, where every single seemingly insignificant facet of the character's motivations are important and play crucial roles in the story? Unacceptable. Because it has so many other positives going for it, Death Note is still awesome, but these unbelievable actions drag it down and make it less than it would otherwise be.

The real problem I had with Beyond the Western Deep's characters is that they're all a blur. There are so many different actors competing for screentime that they start to run together in my mind. I remember the Sratha-Din and the squirrel guy and the guy with the blue cloak who killed the general and I remember the general's brother, but there are so many others and even the ones I remember, I can't remember their names. It doesn't help that the story jumps around a lot and new characters get introduced constantly.

If you like grounded stories, plot twists, high-stakes drama, and political intrigue, you'll like Beyond the Western Deep. Otherwise... you'll probably still like it! Good comic.

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