Review - Modern Fantasy #1 (@DarkHorseComics)

"Good morning, God's Helm! You're listening to WGYX. Weather on the fives, traffic on the nines, news right now."

Being part of the rat race is certainly not something people look forward to. There's a rhythm to it for sure, but it brings with it plenty of trials and tribulations. In Modern Fantasy #1 from Dark Horse Comics, the rat race is set amidst elves, ogres and iScrolls. The issue is written by Rafer Roberts and illustrated by Kristen Gudsnuk.

A young Ranger woman who came to the city with dreams of adventure, her drug-dealing reptilian wizard roommate, and her boisterous Dwarf maiden BFF embark on a modern-day quest to save the world while struggling to keep their crappy day jobs and pay off their student loans. The roommates become embroiled in danger when one of their significant others finds himself taken by criminals, and the trio must save him.

It would be easy for a book like Modern Fantasy #1 to go off the rails in many ways, but Roberts keeps things on track very well. The issue is more about the characters and less about the setting, although Roberts does an admirable job of bringing it all together seamlessly. Roberts clearly draws on high fantasy as inspiration for the characters in the issue, using a lot of tropes and stereotypes to move the story along. Blending together high fantasy and modern civilization is tough, yet Roberts' dialogue does a great job in making it all feel so seamless. There's also an underlying plot running through the issue that connects all the characters together that has a hint of darkness to it.

Gudsnuk's illustrations are very cartoonish and really fits the book well tonally. There's a variety of character models throughout the issue that demonstrate a breadth of fantasy inspirations as Gudsnuk demonstrates a fine creativity about it. The simplicity of Gudsnuk's character designs is welcome and adds an appropriate level of levity to the otherwise mature, gang-related sub-plot. The grid layout for the panels feels a little rigid for a book rooted in fantasy, but that doesn't stop Gudsnuk from cramming each one full of fantasy goodness. The colors throughout the issue are fairly simple as well, emphasizing pinks, purples and greens above all else.

Modern Fantasy #1 is a pretty fun first issue that does an excellent job in setting up a new world to explore. Sage of the Riverlands is seemingly making her way through life the best she can, unaware that she's about to be part of something much bigger. Roberts' script is fluid and entertaining, offering modern takes on fantasy tropes. Gudsnuk's illustrations are the perfect match for the content of the story, breathing life into each player. Modern Fantasy #1 is a lot of fun and a great first issue.

Modern Fantasy #1 is available June 27.