Lancer: The Knights of Fenris
Status: Sporadic
Genre: Action
Rating: ᚦᚹ
In a war between a mammalian society and reptilian society, a group of mammalian fighter pilots loyal to House Fenris fight to secure its future.

Lancer feels like a war story written by someone who only has the vaguest idea of what war is like. That doesn’t mean I didn’t still have fun with it. But I couldn’t seem to get into the mindset the comic clearly wanted me to get into.

It starts off with a lot of sci-fi gobbledegook with invented terms.

And even though most of it isn't explained until much later, par for the course with sci-fi, for some reason the comic goes out of its way to explain obvious terms that a not-insignificant portion of readers might even already be familiar with!

The main characters all have a stereotypical ‘war novel’ cast kind of vibe. There’s a reason those stereotypes exist, but here, it ends up feeling schlocky and kind of disingenuous, because the author doesn’t quite seem to have a grip on what that reason is. I can’t say I blame him for that, but it does create a sense of disassociation between the tone the author is trying to convey and what’s actually going on.

The dialogue is kinda generic feeling, especially in conversations between the main characters. Mattrick’s dialogue is especially bad in earlier pages. He’s one of those wannabe-cool characters who just spouts quips constantly. I can’t stand quips in general and this comic is no exception.

This scene was pretty based on his part though, so I can’t say I hate him.

I think what really killed any hope of me ever taking this comic seriously was this page.

This page appears right after the reptilians win a major victory and House Fenris is on the ropes. This is so cheesy, it’s like something you’d see in an office cubicle. Nothing wrong with cheesyness, but the comic takes itself very seriously otherwise, and I can’t get into the mood when everything around the main plot is so melodramatic. Also of note is that the comic is only one chapter deep when this page shows up, before the reader’s had time to invest himself in the characters or any sense of how high the stakes are. We barely know anything about the reptilians at this point or even why they’re fighting, other than basic territorial disputes.

It also does that weird comic book thing where certain words are bolded and italicized for seemingly no reason. I’ve never liked that, it’s just distracting.

I think the writing gets a lot better once the crew joins up with the Ragnarok, though. No more quips, no more corny moments, just believable human behavior and quiet moments which allow the gravity of the team’s situation to really sink in. I can’t emphasize enough how drastically this improved my desire to keep reading, it’s such a slight change and yet it has such enormous consequences. I like how the crew of the Ragnarok doesn’t buy their story of being stranded and resents both them and the management for trusting them. There’s even a scene where one crew member decides to give them the benefit of the doubt and is socially ostracised by the rest of the ship for it. It’s a great dynamic.

But, ultimately, this comic feels sanitized. The wrath, sadism, and brutality present in actual wars feels toned-down here, like a saturday morning cartoon. In fact, actual saturday morning cartoons felt more brutal than this comic, Sonic SatAM in particular comes to mind. And again, this wouldn't be a problem if Lancer didn't take itself so seriously. It's still a very enjoyable comic for what it is, but man, if there was ever an example of trying 'too hard'...
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