Review of Crystal Fighters

Crystal Fighters- Review

Jen and Tyler Bartel

Dark Horse Comics


The moment I learned that Dark Horse Comics were releasing a trade paperback version of Crystal Fighters I placed a Pre-Order via my local comic shop ASAP.

I have admired Jen Bartel’s jaw dropping comic art from afar via Twitter and I was excited to finally own and enjoy something she co-wrote as well as illustrated.

What’s it all about?

Crystal Fighters is a clever blend of Fight Club – Ready Player One – Mean Girls and a dollop of Sailor Moon.

It is set in the probably not too distant future, akin to the world Ready Player One portrays, where gaming has gone full immersive virtual reality.

Players enter the world of games by clicking almost retro looking cassettes into headsets.

Our Hero

The main character of this tale is a teenage girl who doesn’t mind a bit of violence in her games. In fact she really enjoys combat but she has parents who are trying to a) be good parents and b) still believe in the stereotype of girls like anything pink, sparkly and pretty. So imagine her disappointment when instead of getting a game she would actually like, she gets a very girl game called Crystal Fighters… however with nothing else to play she begrudgingly enters it’s fluffy, sparkly, pink world. But before long she learns it isn’t what it says on the box… for the special few at least…


The theme of deception, perception, reality Vs virtual reality and honesty is what really underlies this story.

For not only is the game not what it appears to be to adults, the players themselves aren’t what they appear to be in-game. Each has their own secret shame or sad life to escape from in the world of Crystal Fighters. Each is dealing with issues behind closed doors that nobody knows about. Yet each player unknowingly exist in the same space in reality, such as school.

In-game they each seem distant from each other not just in terms of game level and experience but also personality.But with each pretending to be someone else, the base for friendship is deceptively shallow for neither is being honest with the other, and some have secrets that extend into and out of the game….

Final Thoughts

It is against this backdrop that our main character is trying to find a place where she can honestly and openly be herself. Be a girl that likes to fight and not be disciplined or judged for it. It left me asking myself whether in role playing games where players take on personas, different looks and abilities, is that whole type of game play based on lying? And do we all lose because of it?

Of course aside from the story the illustration is simple and stunning. The use of colours throughout supports and reflects the characters both in and outside of the game.

I would definitely recommend it for comic fans and gaming fans alike and for those who just love a good story with good comic art.


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