Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC) is a daily webcomic that has managed to maintain a consistent update schedule for as long as I’ve been reading it. Rather than be simply satisfied with a webcomic, though, it grew to release a series of videos under the title of “SMBC Theater.” Yet even that wasn’t enough of an outlet for the creative team, and after a wait of two years, a successful kickstarter, and much anticipation, its full-length webseries, “Starpocalypse” is here.
Starpocalypse is brought to us by SMBC Comics’ Zach Weinersmith and award winning screenwriter James Ashby, and directed by Jason Axinn, whose creative stylings have helped make SMBC Theater the online hit that it is. It stars a cast that’s familiar to fans of SMBC Theater, including Jon Brence, JP Nickel, Lynn Trickey, and Jessie Lande, among many other actors both familiar and previously unknown.
As the show begins, the science versus religion conflict finally ends, with science as the victor. As thousands upon thousands of years pass, though humanity becomes complacent and stagnant, due in no small part to orgasm helmets, and the final professor of literature, philosophy, history, and theology, Niac (John-Paul Nickel), is fired. One thing leads to another (what exactly leads to what won’t be spoiled here) and he and his brother, Leba (Jon Brence) ends up finding God.
In this case, though, God (Jessie Lande) is something of a messed up psychopathic pervert from space, so that’s kind of bad news for humanity.
There are no heroes in this show, just characters getting screwed over and trying to survive. The closest thing we get to anyone doing the right thing is Jessex (Lynn Trickey), a robot that could easily be considered the female equivalent of Marvin from Douglas Adams “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” doing all she can within the boundaries of her programming to keep God away from Earth (usually suggesting murder-suicide). Yet this allows us to laugh as they go through hell and back, while still providing a protagonist who we can at least sympathize with; he’s trying to find a way to survive and have a purpose in a world that he can’t fit in to, even if it’s all in a rather messed-up way.
The visuals are an impressive step up from what SMBC Theater usually provides, thanks to an actual budget and a team of visual effect artists and designers. There are some very clever and great looking locations, such as the University of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the Crucible, a cross-shaped ship carrying the last Space Pope into the cosmos. The sets and costumes are also well designed and constructed, reflecting the state of the futuristic world in which they were created.
The humor is spot-on, managing to be both clever and obscene, over-the-top and balanced, with timing and direction that viewers of SMBC Theater have come to expect and the writing that has made its sketches so successful in the past. That said, it does contain some violent and somewhat sexual content, so it may not appeal to everyone, nor do I advise watching it while at work.
All in all, I have to recommend Starpocalypse to fans of comedy and science fiction. Fans of SMBC Theater are used to the team’s style of comedy, which comes through strongly in every scene, and it is a clear labor of love from the entire crew. Keep an eye out for Starpocalypse when it’s released this Christmas.