These reviews aren't always going to have the best timing. I managed to hit There's Always Porn during a guest week, and I'm hitting Ardra during an entire guest month. This poses a bit of a challenge. Add to that the somewhat verified rumor that Ardra is in for some sort of change on the horizon, and I nearly cancelled the review. Cancelling would be the easy way out though, and what kind of fun is easy? Wait... don't answer that.
I'm quite amused by the basic premise of the comic. An atypical female scientist decides to embark on the greatest experiment of her life - truly logical parenting. The children display a few genetically engineered quirks - both Eileen and Lenore share their maternal provider's unusually high IQ, and Lenore has a dash of telekinesis thrown in just for kicks - but the writer manages to use these qualities as personality traits rather than as gimmicks.
Unfortunately, the comic's life has been somewhat tumultuous having changed artists more than once. Early comics were drawn by Ardra's writer, Jason Dunstan. Fans of the webcomic Least I Could Do may recognize the work of original artist Trevor Adams in later strips. Finally, Fesworks of the webcomic P.S.I. has taken over the artist's helm and he doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon. Jason has stuck through it all, though, even squeezing a number of guest comics from other creators to fill in the gaps between regular artists. That's a tenacity rarely found here on the web, where comics frequently come and go before they're even noticed.
Aside from all else, the humor is consistent. Intelligent without being pretentious, there's a good natured ring to even Eileen's pessimistic sarcasm. The harsher pokings are reserved for popular culture rather than specific individuals keeping the "family" focused as a tight knit unit without fostering animosity. Sarcasm is a subtle game, and Jason definitely has the knack.
The current artwork is a nice blend of Feswork's style and the already established character designs. The line work is smooth and sufficiently detailed to support the block coloring. The backgrounds consist mostly of layered color that seems to exist behind the actual frames, continuing it's patterns beyond the scope of a single panel. While this technique could be distracting, the tones used keep the colors from drawing your eyes away from the characters, which clearly deserve center stage.
Despite some bumps, Ardra seems to have hit a stride. With any luck, future bumps won't knock it off the road.