Written By: Antony Johnston
Art By: Christopher Mitten
Publication Date: December 18, 2013
Published By: Image Comics
Umbral is a fantasy title that I didn’t know I wanted. Sure there are plenty out there, (especially coming from Image) but this one has a certain level of tension not found in the other books of the same genre. I don’t know whether it has to do with the feeling of enemies on all sides or the inability to rest even for a second for fear of capture that makes the second issue of Umbral stand out. Our heroine Rascal is now beset on all sides from not only the ghoulish Umbral but also the city’s Red Guard. I found the break neck pace of the action appropriate for the events and the story is told well throughout.
The dialogue from Antony Johnston is unapologetically British giving a feeling of authenticity to the fantasy setting. What is surprising is how funny Rascal is able to be even in the midst of impending doom. The humor, however, never comes off as self-indulgent and adds a bit of fun to an otherwise dire story. The inner thoughts are conveyed via text box and are never intrusive or heavy handed. The vernacular may be a little confusing for some but if read in context you will get the gist of what’s being said.
I love the storybook style of art chosen by Christopher Mitten. It makes the images leap off the page in such a way that I have only seen from the likes of Emma Rios’ Pretty Deadly. The action scenes are also done well giving a sense of urgency with every panel. If I have one minor gripe it’s that Rascal’s companion is far too similar looking to another character from the previous issue and confused me for the first half of the book. All in all the art in this book is gorgeous and unique and keeps me engaged throughout the story.
Umbral is a book you should be reading if you enjoy fantasy stories with an invader among us type of twist. I’m giving it 4 out of 5 Nerd Skulls
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