Friday, October 2, 2015

Review - From Under Mountains #1 (@ImageComics)


"Some powers are best left alone."

There's something to be said about the allure of a world filled with magic and countries vying for power. A lot of the tactics and cunning are lost in a world that's most developed, but there's interesting relationships when countries are fighting for political power. From Under Mountains #1 from Image Comics ticks all of the above boxes. The issue is written by Claire Gibson, illustrated by Sloane Leong (Brandon Graham pages 34-35) and lettered by Ariana Maher.

Set in the isolated country of Akhara, rival houses face off in the struggle for political power and military security. Three unlikely figures—a lord's daughter, a disgraced knight and a runaway thief—will change the fate of their world, but the only hope of peace may lie with the mystery shrouded goblins and witches, and the ancient powers they command.

Gibson writes From Under Mountains #1 in a way that allows the story involving all three to slowly unfold, laying out a very clean presentation that demonstrates the stakes. It would be easy to think that such an arrangement would get boring, but Gibson's script is anything but. There's a sufficient amount of intrigue in the story as well; with the families vying for power politically things get hectic in a hurry. Readers get the broader sense of the stakes being fought for through the actions of a few simple players and their interactions with one another. Additionally, the ending of the issue leaves things on quite a cliffhanger and really sets the table for the stakes to be raised even higher.

The illustrations in From Under Mountains #1 feel incomplete, but another glance gives the reader the knowledge that there's many more intricacies to the style. Leong starts with relatively simple layouts that boast characters defined by bold, black lines. The contrast between simple layouts and complex characters reinforce the atmosphere Leong is cultivating. Characters are expressive--so much so that it's easy for the reader to understand why a character would make a certain choice or why the characters are so dedicated to their actions to begin with. The colors cover a wide range, but Leong uses them to tremendous effect in terms of giving the book a fantastical kingdom feel.

From Under Mountains #1 is a fascinating first issue that accomplishes a lot in the way of establishing a mood and introducing characters to the reader. All three of the aforementioned characters are brought together in a way that doesn't really feel forced and Gibson's approach is very scheduled in many ways, as it reads as if one is following along in the lives of the characters. Leong's artwork is very stylized and boasts an array of interesting color choices, accentuating various aspects of the kingdom and its inhabitants. From Under Mountains #1 is a very straightforward first issue that promises a lot more beneath the surface as it unfolds.

From Under Mountains #1 is in stores now.

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