Review: The Guild #1

Felicia Day is a multitalented and industrious woman. Not only is she responsible for the smash hit sitcom The Guild, but she has other equally impressive credits under her belt. She acts, she writes, she produces, and she’s setting the world of geek ablaze. As if all of that weren’t enough, she’s taken her self-described “baby” The Guild to the next level. Back in March, the first issue of the companion comic series to the online show was released, delighting current fans and bringing in several new ones with its all-new prequel to the established narrative. While darker in tone and aesthetic than its real-life counterpart, it presents itself as a pleasing complement that acts a perfect companion to old fans and a great starting point for new ones. It will act as a three-part origin story for The Guildies, and personally I can’t wait to see what’s to come.

Cyd “Codex” Sherman is an awkward redhead who’s ready for an IRL reboot. She’s weathering a depression that just won’t let up, and happiness always seems just out of reach. Her life seems to be crumbling apart, one small piece at a time. As we are introduced to the sprightly young girl via her inner monologue and accompanying imagery, we discover how lost and alone she really feels underneath her sunny and bright exterior.

Her self-deprecating humor as showcased in the live-action series is ever-present here, shining through even in one of the very first panels in the comic. Cyd, lamenting on the task her therapist has assigned her (keeping a video diary) notes that the webcam is “almost like an arranged marriage,” with the camera a possible “prince.” Except Cyd is no longer (ahem) innocent, so she couldn’t become a princess anyway. “Stupid hymen,” she sighs.

We’re led to assume that honor was bestowed upon her loser of a boyfriend, who previously worked alongside her in an unnamed orchestra. But what with his new “band” and all, he hardly has time for little people like Cyd. Once he “broke out” from classical music to delve into the new, “hip” world of rock and roll, it grew more and more apparent who he was really in love with, and it’s obvious that person could be found looking right back at him from the confines of a mirror.

Cyd and Trevor’s romance is tumultuously depicted in the pages of the first issue, tugging at our heartstrings and filling us with hatred for this loser who can’t see what a truly amazing girl he has waiting for him at home. He’s filled with such overly romantic notions such as the fact that Cyd must be jealous of his newfound notoriety as a rock star after she overheard comments that could be detrimental to Trevor’s confidence and kept them to himself. Truly. And his latest gig wouldn’t be complete without his “little bird” there, because someone has to take the tickets.

Trevor may play the part of the stereotypically dull and misogynistic boyfriend, but his ignorance resonates with readers in a way that reminds them of the own dead weights in their lives, pulling them down with every reminder of codependency. As I have only seen a few episodes of The Guild, I can’t imagine what becomes of this schmuck, but I hope his fate is an eventual and appropriate one. And Cyd’s incessant fawning over this selfish manchild doesn’t make matters any better.

Since therapy isn’t making any discernible changes and the medication her therapist prescribed has side effects that are worse than the symptoms, Cyd has reached a bit of a dead-end. While perusing the local game shop and posting up fliers for deadbeat Trevor’s gig (and having a brush-in with future fellow guild member Tinkerballa) she happens upon “The Game,” fascinated by the advertisement in the window. The clerk’s mention that she can choose to be anyone she wants to be in-game is the clincher, and Cyd realizes that this may well be the escape she needs to reinvent herself (and her life) the way that she’s always dreamt of.

After creating a healer character named after a comic book hero she adores (Codex), Cyd is thrust into the world of “The Game.” Though she innocently believes the game to be full of serene landscaping and peaceful wandering, she soon runs into Bladezz, who shows her the real way to play, and that means killing. Killing everything. In this she finds comfort, and real companionship, especially when faced with a monster she can’t quite take down by her lonesome. Luckily, a majestic soul known as Vork comes to her aid. Cyd’s first few hours in-game reveal only those two established characters, but lay a solid foundation for the rest of this origin study, and when it comes to an end shortly after meeting Vork, you’re left reeling and hungry for more.

Now, while the story is fantastically written by Day, the artwork could use a little tightening. Real-world scenes are appropriately abysmal and gritty compared to the fanciful world of The Game, though it’s clear Jim Rugg has his lapses in detail with some of the panels. It’s also strange that the characters are not seen wearing the familiar costumes we know and love, the ones depicted on the cover of the comic (a stunning piece done by Matthew Stawicki). The in-game panels are not as ethereal as one would hope, but do provide a nice juxtaposition against Cyd’s real life and the downtrodden events that riddle it. Smart, witty dialogue is embedded in every page, and you can tell Day has a knack for finding each character’s voice.

It’s a trip to be sure, and one that fans of The Guild should enjoy taking, if not to experience the very beginning and to see how Cyd reached the point in her life that she’s at in the infancy of the sitcom. As an unfamiliar viewer myself, completing this three-volume series will prove to be rather eye-opening, and I plan on going into the show and watching it in its entirety armed with a better knowledge of its backstory and what it’s all about. The Guild’s comic series is an enjoyable romp indeed. I may have been late to the party, but now I’m ravenous for more. Expect a review of issues two and three soon.

You can find issue #1 of The Guild here for purchase, and issue #2 has just gone on sale as well.

Comments are closed.