Review - Mae #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"Shooting stop signs: the sport of kings!"

Finding a portal to a new world brings with it equal parts wonder and terror. Sure, there may be really cool things on the other side, but not all of those things may have your best interests at heart. Having someone on this side to defend from the horrors of the other side is always good and Dark Horse Comics has plenty of good in Mae #!. The issue is written and illustrated by Gene Ha, color assists by Rose McClain and letters by Zander Cannon.

When she was just a girl, Abbie discovered a portal to a fantasy world and for the last couple of years has been having great adventures there: defeating horrible monsters, power-mad scientists, and evil nobles. She was a celebrated action hero! But when she turned twenty-one it all came apart and she decided to return home. Her sister, Mae, has had no idea what happened to Abbie all this time. Her tales are too hard to believe; that is, until the monsters and other terrible creatures start to cross over to our world...

There's been a push recently to merge high fantasy with reality and Mae #1 is another entrant in that genre; this time, it comes courtesy of Ha himself. Most of Mae #1 is written as a set-up issue, introducing the reader to sisters Abbie and Mae and Dahlia and the crazy situations that Abbie is about to introduce them to. Ha paces the issue very well in this regard, moving the plot along at a tempo that starts off slow but picks up speed by the end of the issue. There's enough of a fantasy hook prevalent by the end of the issue as well that will definitely pique the reader's interest and it's clear that Ha is drawing upon better-known works such as Wizard of Oz for inspiration. The dialogue feels pretty easygoing as well, contributing to a lighthearted approach overall that feels appropriate for the book.

Ha's artwork is photorealistic in many regards. Ha illustrates the characters with very bold lines that make them stand out that much more, but he also manages to give them striking silhouettes against other backgrounds that don't count on those thick lines. Every character is illustrated with a definite sense of purpose that gives their bodies a sense of heft. The settings are pretty simplistic, but they still fit with the small-town vibe that the comic is going for. The colors by Ha and McClain are pretty dark and do their part to differentiate Abbie and Mae for instance who are clearly from two different worlds.

Mae #1 is a very interesting first issue that doesn't really tread new ground per se but is still enjoyable nonetheless. Abbie and Mae are sisters who come from different backgrounds and their worlds will likely collide in ways they don't expect. Ha's script is energetic and bears all the hallmarks of a great fantasy adventure tale. The illustrations by Ha are also up to the task of giving the book some fantasy credibility, thanks to characters who feel real enough--especially when chasing munchkins. Mae #1 is a lot of fun and definitely worth picking up.

Mae #1 is in stores May 18.