Review - Dryad #1 (@OniPress)

"This is the place. Just like they said."

A human and an elf walk into a bar...and walk out a family. In Dryad #1 from Oni Press, the two main characters are looking to teach their children how to deal with a history that's long been lost. The issue is written by Kurtis J. Wiebe and illustrated by Justin Osterling.

An elf and a human find solace in the sleepy forest settlement of Frostbrook where they plant their roots. But thirteen years later, their twins, Griffon and Rana are inexplicably drawn to an ancient door and discover more than they bargained for, inadvertently turning their world upside down. Now, they'll have to answer for their parents' mistakes and find that the past has a way of finding you, no matter where you hide.

The concept of a family in high fantasy is an interesting one to explore and Wiebe chooses to focus on all of the family dynamics. The two main characters are a human and an elf who are married and have two kids, both of whom serve as the catalyst for the series going forward. Wiebe spends most of the issue establishing the family in all its familial glory, setting up each member to be an integral part of the overarching plot Wiebe's dialogue is generally pretty happy-go-lucky throughout the issue, underscoring the importance of being surrounded by loved ones. There's not really much in the way of setting up the big bad other than a few references throughout the issue and the expected final page splash, yet WIebe still succeeds in keeping the book interesting.

Osterling's artistic style gives the characters life through strong and bold outlines; of particular note is the clothes the characters are wearing which sufficiently ground them in the comic about magic and elves. Characters are often centered in the panels to draw the reader's eye towards them and many of the panels' perspectives follow this layout. The panels are arranged very tidily and provide a great sense of order to the book, making it easy to read. Osterling does a great job of capturing the serenity of Frostbrook, both as a means of establishing the atmosphere and as a means of reinforcing the sleepy lives the characters find. The colors are rich and vibrant, capturing the verdant greens of a forest village and the inky blacks of a mysterious cave.

Dryad #1 is a family-focused take on the world of magic and monsters. The interactions amongst the core characters is very strong and provides a solid foundation for the remainder of the series to unfold. Wiebe's script is well-plotted and does an excellent job portraying the home life of a Frostwood family. Osterling's illustrations suit the script appropriately as it conveys the dangers of magic that resurfaces after initially being considered lost. Dryad #1 is a pretty fun first issue that will offer a great glimpse at a young family balancing schedules and magic.

Dryad #1 is available now.