Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review - The Displaced #1


"Well, this story goes back."

Magical artifacts are always desired to be owned, controlled and dispensed. They typically come with a vast and rich history as well, prompting their legends and lore to transcend time. Sometimes, that history needs to be told and illustrated for context, as in The Displaced #1. The first issue is written and illustrated by Rick Troula.

The first men of Zarconia were known as the Wildlings and their defiance of the gods formed the Wildling Amulet. The amulet fed off of years and years of hatred and warfare, becoming more and more powerful. Eventually, it was sealed away by a very powerful magic and became the object of much obsession. That was all the past and in the present a rather motley group of individuals is seeking the artifact for reasons yet to be revealed.

Troula spends the first half of the issue in retrospective historic mode, while the second half brings things into the now. The choice to break the story up like that keeps the reader up to speed on what's happening, but it does slow down the momentum slightly. It's not easy to establish a universe and readers are essentially presented with a history lesson about the Wildlings and the amulet. There's a healthy mix of religion and anger at the gods (and gods at the mortals), which draws on the Greek mythology that pursued similar stories of anger and rage. While the Wildling Amulet is so sought after is still very much a mystery and the group seeking it are equally as mysterious. In fact, their names aren't even revealed to the reader.

Troula also handles the art duties in the book. The early pages that highlight the history of the amulet are really only sketches of the events, as if to add a nostalgic look and feel to the proceedings. It's a marked contrast from the last few pages in the present, where Troula switches style and illustrates the characters and settings with a bit more detail. That detail is still fairly vague, with the exception of the giant yeti creature who looks very unique and devastating. The entire book is chock full of panels, with some pages crammed with upwards of fourteen panels that is sometimes a little distracting.

The title The Displaced implies that something has been displaced and needs to be reclaimed. It only makes sense that the three characters at the end are seeking the amulet because one of them feels entitled to it, but the first issue doesn't really establish that motivation at all. In fact, the bulk of the issue is spent introducing the reader to the amulet and the universe it inhabits, most likely to provide context for future events. It's written with a slight sense of humor, which makes it very accessible to new readers and capitalizes on myths to create a tale of a powerful artifact and those seeking to wield it.

The Displaced #1 is available via Comixology now.

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