Monday, June 16, 2014

Review - Eye of Newt #1

"The eye is cold and merciless, a window to death and destruction. Only a true hero, one with a courageous heart, can stare into the dragon's eyes."

If you ever find yourself face-to-face with a dragon, chances are there's not much you can do at that point to save yourself. For some reason though, if you are in a position to call that dragon a friend, then maybe you have a chance. And you might even be able to catch a ride if the dragon is headed your way. For tips like that and more, then Eye of Newt #1 from Dark Horse might be a good place to start. The issue is written and illustrated by Michael Hague and lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot.

As a young apprentice wizard named Newt embarks on a perilous quest, he encounters marvelous creatures of all shapes and sizes and learns a dark secret that could shape his entire destiny. Somehow, he manages to work in world-saving quests while daydreaming about being a dragon. There's also a rather dire prophecy issued surrounding him and another apprentice, all of which makes life very interesting for young Newt.

Fantasy stories typically rely on a few tropes and known "facts" in order to help move said stories along. While Eye of Newt #1 feels like it reads from the same playbook as many of these other stores, Hague has managed to make it feel truly imaginative and slightly different. Of course, quests are all the rage in these types of stories and that's what Hague uses as his vehicle, but there's just something about Newt that's so innocent and endearing. He's depicted as a character thirsting to further immerse himself in the world, even if that world throws all manner of mystery at him around every turn. And the script moves along at a generous pace, effectively getting both Newt and the reader where Hague wants them both by the end of the first issue.

Part of what makes fantasy so successful is that sense of antiquity found in the stories and descriptions. This aspect is where Eye of Newt #1 really seems to stand out, as Hague illustrates the book with a relic sensibility that makes Newt's tale feel a lot more storied than it actually is. Panels are depicted with intricate borders that make each image within stand out exceptionally well. Additionally, there a few pages with panels simply floating that look extremely elegant. The art has an almost grimy finish to it as well that makes it feel as if it's a series of stories pulled from the pages of a history book.

Fantasy tales succeed best when they feel truly fantastic and that's something Eye of Newt #1 has in spades. Newt is very believable as a main character, blending together what is clearly the potential for great power with an innocence that makes things interesting. Hague's pacing is precise and doesn't feel rushed at all, buoyed by some very succinct dialogue. His artwork is also up to the task of conveying a fantasy world and really draws the reader in with illustrations of wizards, dragons and all other manner of fantasy player. Eye of Newt #1 is a well-crafted book that starts an interesting series.

Eye of Newt #1 is available in stores June 18 with interiors below.


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