by Edie Nugent
Written by: Kel Symons
Art by: Nate Stockman
Colors by: Paul Little
Lettering & Design by: Pat Brosseau
Logo designer: Tim Daniel
REYN #1 does quite a bit of world-building for a first issue, in fact the very first page has an astonishing amount of information contained in several narration boxes. The scene opens in a place known as the Barrens: a cracked, dry wasteland bereft of life, save a few leafless tree skeletons. Through the dust clouds emerge an armored rider whom the narration calls a Warden. Described as beings of legend who protected the lands of Fate following something called the Great Cataclysm, it seems at least one of the Warden warriors has now returned.
The nameless Warden soon comes to the aid of a local farmer, rescuing him from the attack of a giant bug who has burrowed up from under the farmlands. While the art has a overall has an interesting look to it — the character’s faces in particular have a bit of a medieval woodcut style to them — the perspectives in this scene and a few others seem a tad confused. My favorite moment of the book happens after this fight, when the Warden drops to his knees & raises his sword in tribute to Aurora Morningstar, aka the Mistress of Light whose will he serves. Far from solemn, the Warden asks if he could just have a bit of a break before she “haunts” him again.
While that moment plays against high fantasy expectations, the next scene reverts from this bit of freshness and sees the hero seduced by the buxom farmers daughter — on orders from her father. It would have been better had she come for a roll in the hay of her own accord. Later, the Warden comes across a group of slaves being led to the Menica mines to work off sentences for crimes of desertion and vagrancy. Among them we see a cloaked figure whose appearance is half salamander, half ninja turtle, who escapes the notice of the Warden. He races to tell his brother M’thall, busy playing Jabba the Hutt with a slave girl, of the Warden’s appearance. M’thall disbelieves, saying the Wardens disappeared thousands of years ago.
Soon the Warden arrives in the town of Ledwain and we meet a woman named Seph. At this point the tale switches to her narration which makes a nice change from the male dominated story-line. She identifies the Warden as Reyn, and explains that she is a healer from a long line of ancient people known as the followers of Tek. While too often women in fantasy narratives turn out to be healers, this healer also possesses Susan Storm-like energy fields and handily saves herself from an onslaught of soldiers who brand her a heretic. The book draws to a close as Reyn and Seph team up to take on the remaining regiment.
Reyn #1 is something of an uneven start to the series, but fantasy fans will likely be intrigued by the world introduced and the potential in the pairing of Seph and Reyn.
The Elite Beat Staff is a trained squad of ninja masters.