Review - The Shadow Glass #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"Am I always to be a wanderer upon the Earth...? Yet while I cross dark waters my path always spirits me here...back home..."

There's something alluring about certain locations in certain eras. For instance, London in the 1590s was the pinnacle of an empire, relying on its vast naval might to explore the world and secure trade routes all over. At home in London though, there was no shortage of intrigue and mystery on the part of its citizens, one of whom is the focal point of The Shadow Glass #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written and illustrated by Aly Fell and lettered by Nate Piekos.

A young student of England’s greatest occultist learns her real father is in league with the devil. When Rose finds out that the man who raised her isn’t her father, she ignores his warnings about the terrible secrets of her own past and seeks answers from her childhood teacher Dr. John Dee, the queen’s occult adviser.

The historic London setting is used fantastically in The Shadow Glass #1, as it provides a very unique atmosphere for the work. Fell taps into the "new world" exploratory spirit of the age, presenting a London awash in explorers and investigators. Where The Shadow Glass #1 deviates from more accepted historical accounts of the era though is the introduction of the spiritual into the book. Fell does a great job of slowly building up to this moment, deftly weaving together Rose's growing awareness of her situation in life. Rose herself is billed as something of an intrepid spirit and her realizations in regards to the characters around her set up a very fascinating story.

The artwork features many old world sensibilities that effectively mirror the writing. Fell's rendering of London in 1592 is very detailed and the opening, two-page splash effectively lays out the world in front of the reader to become immersed in. The rest of London is illustrated in a way that continues an attention to detail and effort to make the world in The Shadow Glass #1 feel like a living, breathing entity. Characters also boast a myriad of facial expressions that really underscores their emotions as they pertain to certain situations. And Fell's coloring work is subtle yet manages to work in pops of color here and there via character outfits.

The Shadow Glass #1 is a great foray into history with a slight twist on things have likely been recorded. Rose's whole world opens in front of her, despite her previous disposition to seeking out such an experience. Fell's script is paced pretty evenly and effectively moves everything where it needs to be at the end. His artwork steals the show, offering a glimpse at a London teeming with life and activity. The Shadow Glass #1 is a very solid first issue that seeks to merge the magical with the historical.

The Shadow Glass #1 is in stores March 23.