Wednesday, April 19, 2017
"This valley smells of...death."
In the history of the world, you'd be hard-pressed to find a pandemic as devastating as that of the Black Plague (unless you're playing the game Pandemic and are wiped out around the fourth turn). The disease destroyed families and debilitated countries/kingdoms, paying no attention to the affected. Markosia posits that the plague would have even affected fairies in The Plague #1. The issue is written by Dennis Magee Fallon and Jason Palmatier, illustrated by Zach Brunner and lettered by Dave Sharpe.
In 1352 the Bubonic Plague is ravaging Europe--killing millions in the process. As the fairy king lies dying, his son returns in time to see him succumb to the Black Death, prompting the Prince to fight to save his newly inherited kingdom. Plague combines modern issues of immigration, refugee status, despotism and religious zealotry into a historical fantasy relevant to the present.
Fallon and Palmatier offer an interesting take on the havoc wreaked by the Black Death by working in fairies also being affected. By providing an affliction for both humans and fairies, the writers get the chance to give them some common ground before relying on the concept that there's a distrust between the two races. On the one hand, there's a warbishop intent on "cleansing" the magical creatures in an effort to save what's left of humanity, while on the other hand Fallon and Palmatier have worked in a sort of secession component on the part of the fairies who are just trying to save themselves. There is a somewhat expected love angle thrown into the mix between a human and a fairy, but so far Fallon and Palmatier are keeping that aspect relatively quiet. The dialogue is pretty informative throughout the issue in giving the reader enough to go on without overwhelming them with information.
Brunner's illustrations are loose in a way that provides the issue with a sense of antiquity. The humans and fairies are actually drawn in a way that showcase similarities between the two of them, enough so that Brunner can tap into a larger sense of empathy for the plight of everyone affected by the disease. Brunner renders the characters with sharp, concise lines that help to distinguish the differences in appearance between the two races, ensuring that even though they're all affected by the disease it hits them differently. Pages are laid out with a plethora of smaller panels in a somewhat typical grid format. And Brunner illustrates the action throughout the forest with an emphasis on combat, effectively displaying the various beats that typically accompany a battle.
Plague #1 is an interesting take on a historic event. By adding in a fairy kingdom on the verge of chaos and a human dedicated to eradicating magic, the issue touches on a lot of more profound issues. Fallon and Palmatier have crafted a pretty solid script that effectively showcases the divide between the races. Brunner's illustrations are emphatic and allow the emotion of the characters to react appropriately to the events. Plague #1 is definitely worth checking out if you're looking for some slightly anachronistic reading with a bit of mythology thrown in for good measure.
Plague #1 is available now.