Rose is a classic fantasy tale about a girl trying to restore balance to a broken world. We are introduced to a world where magical Guardians once ruled peacefully over a beautiful and thriving place. These Guardians were born magical protectors and had the ability to connect with companions, Khats, that helped them maintain the peace and prosperity of their world. At some point, the Guardians are targeted by evil forces until they all but disappear and now an evil Queen rules with intimidation and fear. Enter Rose who is born with the gift of magical abilities. She has been hidden for a good while until she starts experimenting with her power and attracts the attention of the queen. Of course Rose’s world is destroyed in the Queen’s hunt to find and destroy her, forcing Rose to grow up fast. She has to find and connect to her Khat and survive in order to become the Guardian her world needs.
I am so intrigued. I grew up reading and loving the fantasy genre but there was a big deficit in stories with a strong female lead taking on the metaphorical heroes journey. Finch takes the classic heroes journey and puts a fresh face on it. Even the evil antagonist is a Queen! The Queen isn’t just eye candy either, she is a complicated, independent woman who wields formidable power and is the most interesting character so far. Guara has strong work, perfect for the fantasy genre. He pays a lot of attention to detail and lighting and uses a lot of color so that the world depicted is just beautiful. The words and pictures combine into what easily feels like a labor of love in honor of the classical fantasy genre.
How did I not review this when it first came out? SO many apologies…
Meet Gertrude, a six year old who has been stuck in Fairyland for almost thirty years. She is willing to hack and slash her way through anything to get back home. Even a magical place like Fairyland will lose its magic and drive a girl a little mad if she can’t leave. You do not want to miss this blood soaked journey to see who survives the girl who hates fairyland.
Skottie Young. That’s all you need to know to make you want this book. I Hate Fairyland is his debut epic fantasy for Image that is sort of like Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz, if Alice or Dorothy were more like Tank Girl. Needless to say, this is not one for the kiddies. Every issue is what it is, a fun romp through a whimsical and unpredictable world. Who doesn’t remember what it was like to dream of being some perfect, happy protagonist on some magical adventure in a world of marvels, like talking wondrous creatures that answer in riddles and fart glitter? I mean, who wouldn’t have a good time? What about after thirty years of the same? Could you still be happy and chippy or would you be bitter and completely mad? Could you still greet the challenge of crossing ice cream mountains with joy and grace or would you want to throttle the next muffin fluffin unicorn that farted in your general direction? Anything goes in the world of Skottie Young. The results are awesomely funny.
Image does it again with Shutter, another indie comic offering with great potential this week. The back page reads, “Story so far: You’re holding the very first issue. There is no story ‘so far’, but the gist is Kate Kristopher was raised to be the world’s greatest explorer and was until she didn’t want to be anymore. Shutter is what happens next.” It’s a pretty simplistic description for a book with so much going on. Shutter sort of happens in media res, introducing our reluctant heroine Kate Kristopher, daughter of a master adventurer, who grew up used to the fame and fortune of an adventurous charmed life exploring strange places and encountering strange creatures. Presently she spends a lot of time on her own in a world familiar, yet very different, from our own. Along with her camera and trained eye she makes a less exciting living, but that doesn’t mean her life isn’t any less spectacular.
I’m a sucker for good urban fantasy and Shutter is pretty fantastical. Keatinge sows the seeds to an intriguing story centering on a character immediately compelling. The first pages showing Kate’s childhood, a 7th birthday spent bored on the moon, reminds me a little of a Wes Anderson movie, beautiful aesthetically and subtly packed with feels and heart. A very interesting story is teased in this first issue, full of wonderful things and dark secrets.
A lot of this world works because of Del Duca’s art. Her world building is beautiful to behold. This is one of those books to spend a lot of time lingering on. No space is wasted. The very first page catches the eye with a moonscape. The next four pages, my favorites, show three panels each, the top and bottom panels continue the story while the middle panels show the book’s credits over environmental detail of the Kristopher family portraits on the walls of their home. That’s a lot of story info given effortlessly through pictures. After that it’s just a feast for the eyes. Kate’s world immerses the reader into the story in such a way that I was left excited to see more. My only complaint is that the ending was too abrupt and I could have used just a few more pages to hold me over until issue #2.
I’m beginning to feel a bit of a bias with Image comics, like maybe it’s just not fair for me to review Image books without objectivity. Eh. I’ll get over it because these are the stories that continue to feed my addiction for the medium.
The world as we know it has moved on, whether it has moved forward or backward is the question. “The Blight” has all but ended the human race and nature has taken her world back. What humans that have survived must continue to survive in a bizarre world in which what was once known as myth is now reality. Hinterkind focuses on Prosper Monday and her bestie Angus as they come of age in a time of myth and legend somewhere in our not-so-distant future.
Hinderkind’s cover drew me in, it looked like something from Saga only instead of sci fi genre bending, it’s bending the urban fantasy genre. After reading issue #1, I’m convinced, it really IS something like Saga for the urban fantasy genre. The reader is dropped into this bizarre world around a village that is somewhere in what was once Central Park, at some unknown time after “The Blight” has wiped out reality as we know it. What is left of the human race is surviving the best they can in small villages that have had to revert to hunter/gatherer days and contend with creatures dangerous and bizarre, creatures of myth and legend that humankind had once pushed to the shadows. The time of these creatures has finally come back around and not even human beings can remain untouched by this evolution. Prosper Monday reminds me a Katniss-type girl, aspiring to hunter status with her bow and arrow skills. Her bestie in crime is Angus who has issues of his own to contend with. Inadvertently these two set off in a bizarre adventure together past the comfort and safety of their village. I like how we have yet to find out the details of how the world has moved on, it just has. The word “hinterkind” translates from German to English as “behind child.” I guess we will see how these children are forced to go back and redeem themselves and their race for whatever part they had in the way things have come to be. It looks like the creatures they will have to reckon with in order to do this will prove an interesting and formidable challenge.
The artwork is bright and beautiful, reflecting the fairy tale mood set in a post apocalyptic world. The “once upon a time” spread in the beginning is striking, the New York skyline has gone from its concrete jungle days to a lush forest growing out of buildings and skyscrapers under brilliant blue sun shiny skies. Even cooler are the creatures this new landscape houses, many familiar-ish creatures from the fairy tales we all grew up with and new hybrids like the tiger striped, white maned lions.
I know post apocalyptic tales are a dime a dozen these days but a few still stand out now and again. This one puts an interesting spin on it using urban fantasy instead of the usual zombie fare. Being one of those that have always been obsessed with fairy tales retold, I’m an easy sell. I like this one.
Image’s own release description of the Rat Queens is enough for me to consider this title for my own personal pull list, it states as follows, “GOLD, GUTS AND GROG,” Part One. Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all gods’ creatures for profit. It’s also a darkly comedic fantasy series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Hobbit Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!” The Rat Queens are assigned a quest in order to keep out of lockup for a night of destruction and debauchery.
I have yet to find a sword and sorcery genre comic that I really like, until now. This one has a couple of things going for it the others I’ve read lack, wit and humor. I get the impression Wiebe knows his fantasy tales and has played enough World of Warcraft with some snarky character types to unleash his playful side on these pages. Also, he had me at the all girl quest party. Dude. I love these girls. Not only do they like to get their party on, they also like to get their destruction on. They are a strong, confident, fearsome group and each character is a gem of her own. The dialogue is excellent and is so engaging that the quest assigned to them became secondary to just wanting to get to know the characters better through their interaction with each other. The writing is solid. I am hard pressed to pick a favorite member of the crew but if I had to it would be between the atheist cleric addressing her old habits from her “cultist” days and the hobbit thief who packs candy and drugs for their adventure and is insistent on ‘shrooming in the woods.
Upchurch’s art is awesome. At a first glance one might think this was the love child of World of Warcraft and Saga artists. It contrasts to the writing well so that it’s enough on the cute and fun side that the content isn’t so heavily taken. It’s a perfect fit for the type of wit and humor that comes through so easily in the words used. A lot of the book’s charm and humor come from how expressive the characters are through facial expression and body posture. Upchurch effortlessly nails this skill, as shown with the expression of stubborn disappointment Betty gives when denied her ‘shroom trip – it is just the cutest thing ever.
Rat Queens is a fantasy read fueled by crude sex jokes, drugs and candy. It may not be for the faint of heart in regards to crude language and humor but I appreciate it and think it’s funny as hell. It is one of the more fun reads I’ve read and I will be adding this one to my pull list. At the risk of dating myself, it reminded me of the good old days on a good night on the mIRC but with cool graphics. Just trust me and give it a try, especially if you are one of those out or closeted MMORPG fans. It’s well worth it.