Robot 6

Adventure awaits in ‘Latchkey Kingdom’

16b578303U6qoWebcomic creator Nick Daniel established the sprawling world of Lagend in 70 Seas. The fantasy world was a mishmash of European, Middle Eastern and Asian influences and populated by furry characters that were closer to the Sonic the Hedgehog end of the spectrum: big eyes, cartoony features, and fur with the consistency of unwashed carpet. They were also quite active, zipping across the page with a spirit of bravado and derring-do.

70 Seas ended in August 2013, but Daniel returns to Lagend with a new webcomic, Latchkey Kingdom. While that world was never meant to be taken all that seriously, Latchkey Kingdom ramps up the goofiness to the next level. It should become pretty obvious with its initial story arc, “Jinx.” That title, by the way, rhymes with a famous pop-culture icon. Want to take a guess? I’ll give you one paragraph.

The main character of Latchkey Kingdom is a resourceful adventurer named Willa Dragonfly. We see her wandering dark dungeon corridors in search of treasure. Her costume is quite notable, as she’s dressed in a familiar green jerkin with a shield adorned with the symbol of a bisected triangle. (Have you caught on to the reference yet?) We watch her as she’s annoyed by a glowing being who chirps “Listen!” all the time, and she does a dramatic pose when acquiring new stuff, while a dialogue box hovers nearby. (Still guessing?) And if that’s not enough of a tip-off, there’s the familiar retro logo of Latchkey Kingdom itself, which looks like it belongs on a shiny gold box.

Yup, Latchkey Kingdom is a Legend of Zelda homage, right down to the eager young hero who doesn’t talk much. That’s not the only video game reference: Willa later encounters a “Buzz-a-chu,” a glowing yellow rat buzzing with electricity. She also fights a “Titan” modeled after the beasts from Shadow of the Colossus. I’m sure there are others — like what’s up with Willa’s claw hand? Is that a reference to that game where Sonic is a werewolf? I have no idea.

Latchkey Kingdom is a video game webcomic if you want it to be one … but that’s selling it short. It’s actually a lot of things, and chiefly it’s a comedy adventure. The gaming references are just icing on the cake, a reminder to certain readers of the fun times spent with a controller. If you’re not a gamer, there’s still plenty to love … like the enjoyable characters who surround Willa.

Willa is joined by her friend, Zander Hilla, who’s good-natured but a bit feather-brained. After a successful dungeon raid, Zander accidentally cheats Willa out of a cool sword when he loudly boasts that the treasure is a cursed item. The treasure is severely marked down, as cursed items are more dangerous to keep around.

As it turns out, the entire royal family seems equally as flighty. The King, for example, has no problem passing his crown to an invading barbarian just so he can take a vacation from demanding politics. It seems that everyone in Lagend just longs to be out of the house. Willa herself comes from sturdier stock: Her grandfather, Sir Dragonfly, is a legend of the realm and the royal family’s loyal protector, provided he’s granted to appropriate nap time.

It’s a webcomic where nothing is ever serious. Snake cultists are just minor threats, witches are nervous flibbertigibbets, and everyone, including the reader, is just having a good time.

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It’s not mentioned in the article, but the black-and-white chapters are more direct parodies of particular games, with at least two or three illustrating specific boss battles in Dark Souls. Color chapters are original stories built on the characters and their world.

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