Damn this is a good week for new and debuting comics. Between a new chapter of the Generations, finally putting the nail in Secret Wars or Invasion or whatever that Marvel crossover Secret thing was this time, and Harley Quinn celebrating 25 years comics had tons to pick from. Oh…and RUNAWAYS is finally back! No, that secret wars hodgepodge didn’t count.
As always if you want the low down on everything Marvel and DC this week check out the rundowns on The Beat.
For now, we un-cancel canceling the apocalypse as we dive into Image’s The Realm.
The Realm #1
Story: Jeremy Haun, Seth M. Peck
Art: Jeremy Haun
Colors: Nick Filardi
Letters: Thomas Mauer
Published by: Image Comics
If you had to pick a genre that always seems overcrowded but somehow manages to find new stories, it would have to be dystopian fantasy. The Realm checks off all the boxes of a typical end of the world story, but Jeremy Haun and Seth Peck give it enough action and mystery to make it worth giving it a shot.
The Realm is a messed up world where mythical mutated orc like creatures threw the planet into chaos. Now pockets of survivors have set up Mad Max like mini societies while some have banded together to fight for humanity. At the center of all this is a single mercenary named Will Nolan. When a group attempting to take on the forces of evil who’ve invaded Earth, they’ll need Nolan’s help in getting to Kansas City where the remaining scientists will figure out a way to put a stop to the invasion. Mucking up the group’s simple A to B journey are orcs, dragons, scavengers, and a dark priest who serves the source of this evil, The Un-maker.
Issue one sets up this melting pot of a world, almost by the numbers. We’re introduced to the focus of this story and it wastes little real estate in showing you how cunning, ruthless, and tough someone has to be to survie in this world. Not only is Will Nolan gifted in the art of post apocalyptic survival, he’s also someone conscious of not letting his humanity slip. In a deal going down in the early pages, the character could have easily taken his payment and left the woman to a horrible fate, but he opts to help her for no reward at the end. The book’s supporting cast is interesting but never steps into any moments of their own in the opening. Rebel solider Molly and the scientists she’s allegedly moving to the midwest will play an important part of the story but for now, it’s only teased. That’s the case with just about every supporting character in this issue. From the evil priest who we see commune with the darkness, Nolan’s mysterious personal sidekick, a deranged human warrior the orcs fear known as “the Beast”; we’re shown only glimpses of them but there’s enough crucial character motivation in those panels that gives readers a sense this is a fully fleshed world.
When Jeremy Haun drew Constantine a while back, it was evident his style was strongest in emotional horror narratives. It doesn’t skimp on heavy lines but has an efficiency to everything. Most importantly of all he doesn’t use horror as an excuse to go surreal. Every character and detail in the book is distinct and full of emotional detail. Heavy dialogue moments are supported by character eyes guiding your line of sight. Believe it or not, comics should have a flow even if you don’t notice it. Little details that convey emotion also serve to help make the read smooth. In this regard, The Realm #1 is indeed a baby’s ass.
Reading The Realm, I couldn’t help but see bits and pieces of influence from dystopian stories I hold in high regard. From the wasteland infrastructure reminiscent of the Fallout and Last of Us video games to the mystery of McCormack’s The Road, this book might not be reinventing the genre but it plays to a sense of mystery and wonder all its own.
[WON] The Realm #1 is going to go down as one of the best comics ever to use the words “Kansas City”. Go Dodgers!
Here’s the rest of this week’s #1 comics:
HARLEY QUINN 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL #1 (DC COMICS)
RETCON #1 (Image Comics)- [WON] “A sheer mind f**K!”
GENERATIONS CAPT MARVEL & CAPT MAR-VELL #1 (MARVEL)
SECRET EMPIRE OMEGA #1 (MARVEL)
ROCKY & BULLWINKLE SHOW #1 (AMERICAN MYTHOLOGY)- [WON] Charming and holds up well today.
SHEENA #1 (DYNAMITE)- [DONE] Lots of ambition in this book but gets in its own way.
SHINOBI NINJA PRINCESS LIGHTNING ONI #1 (ACTION LAB)-[WON] What it lacks in hook, it makes up for in well-done action.
SLAM NEXT JAM #1 (BOOM! Studios)-[WON] SLAM is doing for roller derby what LOTR did for medieval shows.
WOLFENSTEIN #1 (Titan)-[WON] A nice surprise inviting for readers who know nothing about the video games.