Review - Portal Bound #0 (@AspenComics)

"Keep her safe, Horuk. If sybil ends up being dragged into will be your end."

We all need a little help from time to time. How that help is applied varies based on who's asking for it. In Portal Bound #0 from Aspen Comics, Sybil needs help from someone else she doesn't even really knows exists...yet. The issue is written by Marc Roslan and Gabe Carrasco, illustrated by Alex Arizmendi, colored by Wes Hartman and lettered by Zen.

A parallel otherworld exists as a mirror to our own, where science is melded with nature and a warrior spirit defines their true value. A teenage soldier princess, Sybil, is sent off with her Uncle Horuk in an effort to stop her megalomaniac father, Emperor Atilus from destroying two Earths. With a deadly array of monstrous creatures in hot pursuit, Sybil and her uncle race to activate a portal to Earth to find a savior who is also figuring out how to survive being a teenager!

Based on its name Portal Bound #0 could easily slip into becoming another foray into high fantasy, but Roslan and Carrasco don't let that happen. Their approach is predicated on two worlds coming together in some fashion and while most of the issue focuses on one of the worlds over the other, it's apparent there's going to be some inflection point. Sybil is a rambunctious character who is headstrong while Elias is a little more on the shy side which means that Roslan and Carrasco have a built in juxtaposition of characters at their disposal. The pacing of the story starts off pretty calmly before the writing duo start speeding things up for the two main players to interact and change both their worlds in the process. And the dialogue throughout the issue is sound, with Roslan and Carrasco giving the reader just enough information to keep their interest without revealing the entirety of where the story will take the characters.

Arizmendi's artwork is a good fit for the tone of the story in that it offers a look at the fantasy elements well. Characters are illustrated with an otherworldliness that makes their existence on another plane very believable to the reader. Arizmendi uses thin lines that give the characters well-defined physiques and facial features, bringing in some of the looks that other Aspen comics are known for. Towards the end of the issue there's some keen layouts where Arizmendi has Sybil and Elias coming closer together on page to symbolize their inevitable meeting up. Hartman's colors are bright and vivid throughout the issue--another effective means of differentiating the two worlds.

Portal Bound #0 incorporates a lot of the sense of wonderment that most of the Aspen universe trades in while also bringing in some more modern-day elements. Sybil will likely need more help as the series unfolds, both to deal with the external opponents as well as helping her better herself. The script by Roslan and Carrasco is well-paced and effective in giving the reader key information without going overboard. Arizmendi's artwork is a great fit in terms of setting the right tone for the issue. Portal Bound #0 is an interesting issue that lays the groundwork for another property that will boast plenty of magic and general hijinks for all involved.

Portal Bound #0 is available February 7.