The After Realm Quarterly #1 Review - The End of a War is only the Beginning...
I often say that I'm not the biggest fan of Fantasy. It's not that I dislike the genre It's just that most of the material is so front-loaded with lore that it becomes a barrier for entry. There are exceptions. I love Dragon Age, Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite books and films. I've also enjoyed Robert Geronimo's Blood Realm series from Alterna Comics. After reading this comic I feel I can add The After Realm Quarterly to that list.
The story of The After Realm isn't lore heavy and I never felt overwhelmed by the setting. What Michael Avon Oeming and Taki Soma have done is take the Norse Myth of Ragnorox and use it as a springboard into something really cool and unique within the Fantasy genre.
The comic opens with our heroine Oona and her best friend Pikki at the outset of the end of the world. Loki invades Elfheim and during the assault, Pikki is lost. The comic flashes forward beyond the war. Loki is defeated and captured. Oona has trained and failed to become a ranger and is also still mourning the loss of her friend.
Oona is a cool character written in classic fashion and placed on a heroine's journey. She longs to find her friend and that motivation drives her throughout the issue. She's also a bit of a mess. She's self-centered, a liar, and also arrogant. This gets her into a lot of trouble over the course of the issue.I understand Oona's motives but it's clear that she has a lot of growing up to do.
I loved the energy and variety in this world and this also reflected in the art direction. The preview art has hinted at even more shenanigans in future installments and ts cool to see creators having fun with their worldbuilding. There are also some cool illusions to tabletop role-playing and videogames. I know Michael's work from Powers and Dick Tracy: Forever. Seeing him tackle a totally different genre was interesting and I can't wait to see the other realms introduced as the series goes on.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention value. I purchased The After Realm #1 for 5.99 last year and it's currently on sale on ComiXology for 3.99. The book is of standard paper quality and features 50+ pages of art and story. Not many books on the shelves can match this presentation dollar for dollar.
The issue also feels complete and not a vehicle for a decompressed story that inches toward the point. The book lays out the settings, stakes, has some adventuring. The series also promises even more fun concepts to be introduced going forward. Michael and Taki have delivered a homer with their opening swing at-bat.