While a number of people have waxed eloquent about the new webcomics project at Arkhaven.com, I've held off. I know that Razor and Jon Mollison have had good things to say, and a good word from Razor, given his depth of knowledge of comics is certainly worth something. I want to be more tempered.

So, first, how is it?

It's good.

No, not amazing, superlative, spectacular, or anything else like that. In part, because there are definitely features that need to be brought to the table, but in part in the mode of the old Cosby (?) joke, people say how fantastic and extraordinary something is that doesn't last, and yet, when God created the world, it was good.

The good - a number of different storylines in a broad range of genres, generally solid art quality, and an efficient and effective site layout that works well for scrolling down a webpage in mobile. I like pretty much everything there.

The bad?

For some of it, it's too early to tell.

Strengths and weaknesses of individual comics/storylines aside, the biggest hassle for me right now is that figuring out what has most recently been updated is difficult. The list of recent updates is short, and the content of some individual days can result in same-day updates falling off the list. There are no RSS feeds of individual strips, and with no individual accounts, per-account watchlists aren't available to help either.

That said, those are just features, and they've already updated and fine tuned a few things, so time will tell. At this moment, there are enough comics where this can be annoying, but the issue of not being able to easily filter what has been recently updated, and the need to more easily pay attention to a watch list of regular reads, will be more important.

The artwork is generally solid - the average may not be up to the standard of the average DC/Marvel product a decade or two ago, but the art quality of those big houses has started to suffer aesthetically if not in technical skill (much), and anyone familiar with the wide range of Manga or Webtoons series will know exactly how much awful crap is out there. The average clears those bars pretty well, and the best is certainly up to par. This is one place that experience counts - there is a difference between one or two good illustrations, and consistently cranking out good, stylistically coherent panels on a deadline. That said, anyone familiar with the earlier-produced Alt-hero or Quantum Mortis volumes can easily see the improvements present in the new episodes.

As to the stories - taste aside - a couple show an unfamiliarity with the rhythms of writing for illustrated media. The Ascendant series shows this weakness, but pacing aside, has enough substance that I still want to see where it goes. This, again, can be fixed with experience. Nevertheless, we have a mix of previously published material including a lot of Jon Del Arroz's work, new material, and continuation of Arkhaven's earlier original work.

All in all it's simple, it works, it has decent content, solid artistic and aesthetic quality for the target audience, good stories, and is poised to iterate and keep improving.

And I've got an easy dozen or more of the stories bookmarked.