January 5, 2009

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Penny Arcade Volume 2

Written by Jerry Holkins
Illustrated by Mike Krahulik
Dark Horse

Hard to believe this took about two years to finally make it from my hold list to my hand, but that was the case. It's funny how long some things take to wind their way through the hold list.

This is the second collection of Penny Arcade strips published by Dark Horse. Penny Arcade is that rare breed of webcomic, namely one that can last for more than a year and has enough clout to be self-supporting.

I mentioned in my review of volume 1 that the only danger this book runs into is when you don't know the games they are referencing, the jokes kinda fall flat. Well, that was the case for me on this one--in 2001, I had fallen out of the video gaming world (I'm not sure I even had a system set up), and so the references are to a lot of things I never played--Halo, Grand Turismo, Dark Age of Camelot, just to name a few.

In addition, some of the additions to the book--blog posts, for instance--really slowed the pacing down. I'd rather just have a book of strips, honestly, because that's what I'm here for. The bonus features at the end were also a bit odd, as they felt like a page-count throw in--there's not enough of any given thing to really make me interested. Perhaps if I followed the strip regularly online, I'd feel a bit differently.

All in all, I still enjoyed the book. Even though I didn't get all the references, the ones I did get, like the slow death of the Dreamcast, were laugh out loud funny. So are the ones about people trying to censor video games, a riff on Scott McCloud, and of course George Lucas. It's just that this time, I felt more like the young person I described in my first review, puzzling my head over the same type of references that I immediately picked up on before.

Penny Arcade still holds up very well, and if you are at heart a video gaming geek (and if you're reading a comics review blog, odds are you are in fact a geek in MANY other ways), you'll enjoy these blasts from the recent past of 2001. Props to Dark Horse for giving these a permanent home.