Niobi: She is Death #1 Review - Epic Fantasy Novel Masquerading as a Comic Book
• Sebastian A. Jones (Writer) • Amandla Stenberg (Pencils)
• Sheldon Mitchell (Cover Artists) • Stranger Comics (Publisher)
I picked up Niobi: She is Death #1 based on the cover alone. It's simply gorgeous and one of the best I've seen since I got back into comics a few years back. The character looks appropriately strong, interesting and I wanted to know more of her story based solely based on the image alone.
After reading the comic didn't quite land for me as I would have hoped. I'm a huge fan of Blood Realm (Alterna) and Dragon Age. Both franchises have a dark fantasy vibe. Niobe also appears to be a dark fantasy story but it appears to be covering too much ground in a single issue. This title may be better suited as a graphic novel or at the very least a 48 page 1st installment.
I haven't read the Witcher or played the games but Niobi reminds me of what I imagine Geralt to be like. Niobi is strong, stoic and is downright brutal at points in the issue. All of this makes for a cool antagonist but it's a generic character trope we've all seen before in fiction. It's during the times where I should felt excited that I found myself bored.
What I do like is that this is a hard fantasy setting with a predominantly Black cast of characters. There aren't a lot of fantasy comics that feature Black Characters in lead roles so It's nice to see this level of representation.
There is some worldbuilding and action sequences but I didn't put the book down with a strong reaction positive or negative. I think that there is potential for a great story here but I believe that the comic needs to be either slowed down to reestablish the characters for new readers or released in bigger installments. Niobe is a decent introduction to this world but time will tell if it reaches it's potential.
I went to post the review on comicbookroundup.com and discovered that Niobe: She is death is a continuation of a prior mini-series. Having this new information It changed my perspective a bit.
I still stand by my initial review but I figured that my modified thoughts were worth sharing.
Niobe being a sequel hurts this book. The comic doesn't recap the initial series or refer to it in any direct fashion. This leads me to conclude that the creative team assumed that I read the first series. I read the book twice and felt that I got dropped into the middle of the story. It turned out that this was the case. A lot of what shaped Niobe is probably in the prior series and without any context or a recap, new readers such as myself are alienated.
There are three series that I'm currently reviewing that handle being follow-ups beautifully, Bloodrealm by Robert Geronimo, Chrononauts - American Jesus: The New Messiah both by Mark Millar.
BloodRealm: Vol 2 is totally disconnected from the first installment and is treated as a standalone series. The POV characters aren't even the same between BloodRealm vol: 1 and 2. What connects the series thematically is the world the story resides in.
The other series, American Jesus and Chrononauts are both sequels but what stands out about those books is that you'd have no idea that they were follow-ups unless you were familiar with the original series. Those books are completely standalone and begin as if they are #1 issues of new IP. Niobe feels like issue #4 of an ongoing series without a recap.
It's not a terrible way to go if you're invested in the comic but it's hard for new readers if you're dropped into the middle of the story.