Written by Antony Johnston
Illustrated by Christopher Mitten
Colored by John Rauch
Cover by Christopher Mitten
Release Date: November 13, 2013
Cover Price: $2.99
Otherworldy forces are at work in the palace. Written by Antony Johnston with illustrations from Christopher Mitten and colors from John Rauch, comes Umbral #1 from Image Comics. Will the bards sing wondrous songs of this tale? Find out below.
Rascal is a thief. She’s also friends with Prince Arthir. While sneaking around the castle with the prince, the two witness the slaughter of the king and queen by a group of demon-like creatures. As the creatures are chanting a peculiar incantation, Rascal realizes something that will put her and the prince in a whole lot of danger: the magical mist she carries in a bottle around her neck is needed for their spell and they can sense that it is near.
Umbral #1 begins with excellent narration recounting events unseen; while Mitten’s illustrations — combined with Rauch’s unique color scheme — littered the opening pages with a vast, surrealistic kingdom of twisted buildings and alleyways filled with dark blues, purples, and yellows. I was hooked at the start but then everything changed.
I really wanted to enjoy this comic but I couldn’t. It was emotionless. Sure, visually Umbral #1 is exciting and unique, but that just isn’t enough. The characters are unfeeling, robotic, and stale. Bad things happen that personally effect them in this issue — very bad things — and both Rascal and Arthir barely react. Eyes glazed over for a moment, the two move on from their situations with a joke or two. I’m sure this was unintentional on Johnston’s part, as there is only so much that can be added to a single comic, but it doesn’t fit the tone of the fantasy story. I want to care for the characters I’m reading about but instead, I was left feeling discouraged and unmoved.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t all. The characters are planning something big, but what that is never actually is revealed. I felt confused throughout most of the issue and that bewilderment, coupled with my lack of care for Rascal and Arthir, really turned me off.
It’s certainly a shame that Umbral #1 didn’t pan out as I had hoped. The adventure seemed great, but there was no magic in its execution.