24 March 2019 | DJPilkington
A slow decline
"Atop the Fourth Wall" was always a fairly gimmicky, but still unique, concept: the Nostalgia Critic, but with comic books. And like the Nostalgia Critic, AT4W experienced a slow, withering decline over the years as it's haphazardly tried and failed to keep up with the times.
Akin to most of the Channel Awesome Criticsphere shows, you can look back on an early AT4W video then look at a more recent one and not discern much meaningful change in the way the main content is presented. Lewis Lovhaug, in his fictitious persona Linkara, basically sits in his basement and commentates over scans of bad comic books, makes jokes and one-liners here and there in a gratingly nasal voice, before declaring his final opinion. Although, there is one thing you will definitely notice has changed for the worse...
Those obnoxious storylines! In another uncanny reflection of the Nostalgia Critic's fall from grace due to an overreliance on cutaway gags, AT4W has basically been ruined by Lovhaug's insistence that each video has to tie in to some ridiculous, nonsensical sci-fi storyline that usually has absolutely nothing to do with the comic review at hand. I find it funny how Linkara can have the gall to mock bad writing in his comic books, but is completely un-self-aware to the atrocious quality of his own little storylines.
Worse, Lewis always portrays the Linkara character as an awesome gun-toting Marty Stu who goes around defeating supervillains in a spaceship with a quirky cast of robot sidekicks and whatnot. You can really tell that Lewis regards these narrative segments as a big draw to his videos, but they're really not -- most people just skip to the actual review, because that's understandably what they'd rather be watching. They're just too embarrassing to sit through, and I'm sure Lewis will feel the same way in many years time (not that he learned from his attempts to write a superhero webcomic and Pokemon fanfiction). While I applaud his efforts to experiment, I think he should either try something else or just stick to the original thing.
What I will say in the show's favour is that there's at least a great variety of comics reviewed -- it's not just the standard Marvel/DC fare, and Lewis manages to get hold of some really obscure and interesting titles. Not only that, but AT4W is one of the only notable Criticsphere review (they're more like overviews, really) shows that showcases both good and bad media. A break from the whinging and nitpicking is refreshing. Some of Lewis's diary insights that accompany his videos in the descriptions are also quite fun to read through. So overall, AT4W isn't bad, as I'll still stick on a video when I feel in the mood, but the flaws are increasingly hard to ignore.