~by MiSun Kim
Aron's Absurd Armada is a Korean webcomic by MiSun Kim that roughly follows a yonkoma, or four-panel, format. Even though the series has been translated into English beginning with the release of the August 2010 issue of the digital edition of Yen Plus magazine, I only became aware of the manhwa with the publication of the first trade omnibus. Published in 2012 by Yen Press, Aron's Absurd Armada, Omnibus 1 collects the first two volumes of the original Korean release of the series, published in 2008 and 2010 respectively. Aron's Absurd Armada continues to be serialized online. So far, the series has been collected into five volumes in Korea with more expected to follow. Yen Press' release of the series is completely in color on nice, glossy paper with a larger trim size. I came across Aron's Absurd Armada more by chance than anything else, but still looked forward to giving the series a try.
Lord Aron Cornwall is a pirate. Or, at least he wants to be. Mostly because he thinks it sounds like it would be fun. He's not off to a very good start, though. Sure, he has a ship. He even has a bodyguard. (Of course, Robin is actually more interested in treasure and getting paid than anything else. He only protects Aron in order to protect his source of income.) But that's about it. Aron's friendly if slightly oblivious personality paired with his natural incompetence doesn't make him the most inspiring of captains. Despite this, Aron still manages to slowly put together a crew of somewhat loyal misfits, all who have their own peculiar quirks and personalities. He's even drawn the attention of the Marines, a sign that at least somebody has noticed his less than successful attempts to become a pirate.
At its heart, Aron's Absurd Armada is a gag manhwa, but it also manages to have something resembling a plot. Most of the humor in the series is derived from the characters themselves, their varying levels of incompetence, and their general quirkiness. There are a few strips that partially rely on some knowledge of Korean culture, including an homage to Bong Joon-ho's 2006 film The Host, which I found hilarious. But then, I am rather fond of that film. Some of the "gay" jokes in Aron's Absurd Armada are a little harsh. However, considering the context and overall tone of the series, which is lighthearted and quite funny, I don't think that Kim is being deliberately malicious even if the comic can occasionally come across as homophobic. For the most part, Aron's Absurd Armada is a lot of fun.
To be completely honest, I actually wasn't expecting much from Aron's Absurd Armada. It ended up being a delightful surprise and highly entertaining. As with any gag-oriented comic some of the jokes can be hit-or-miss. Personally, I was consistently amused and caught myself laughing aloud on several occasions. Granted, I tend to enjoy ridiculous and absurd humor. I'm glad that Yen Press published the omnibus in full color. Part of what makes the series so fun is Kim's playful illustrations and use of color. I enjoyed Kim's artwork and characters in Aron's Absurd Armada. I was particularly fond of Robin and his nearly perpetual look of resigned disinterest. I enjoyed Aron's Absurd Armada much more than I was anticipating; I'm really looking forward to the release of the next omnibus.