Publisher: West of the Sun Comics
Creator: Patrick Kellner
Pencils & Inks: Donny Hadiwidjaja
Colours: Bryan Valenza
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Available now on Comixology (CLICK HERE)
As a story centred on a former member of the Dark Shadows Guild of Thieves & Assassins, I’d have to say that the opening of this new series from West of the Sun Comics failed to steal my attention. It’s definitely worth persevering with it though, as I was beginning to be won over by the end.
Gage Monahan, our eponymous anti-hero(?), is seeking the White Dragon’s Tear. A mystical gemstone rumoured to hold great power. Acting on a tip, Gage heads to the City of Aster, Capital of the Farwinds Territory to infiltrate the supposedly impregnable castle. In panels heavily reminiscent of my time playing early Assassin’s Creed games, the so called ‘Wraith’ Gage, espouses how brilliant he is – an approach which could have been intended as somewhat tongue-in-cheek but for me landed more like a monologue from an overconfident roleplayer.
All the while this is going on, we are treated to some lovely art from Donny Hadiwidjaja and Bryan Valenza, and some solid lettering from Ed Dukeshire. Each panel is full of crisp detail with changes in perspective which I enjoy seeing. The opening splash perfectly illustrates that this is a fantasy world and triggers the senses, evoking a rich scene and letting the observer kickstart the word-building process themselves. This is then followed on by methodical panelling which builds on the idea of this break-in being almost routine. Simple, but effective.
The quality of the imagery holds up throughout the book and the details remain solid when there’s a switch to action and swordplay. This is clearly fantasy but time has obviously been taken to convey a sense of realism. The hack and slash of the armoured duel later on in the issue shows how brutal an affair this is, with little of the dancing around or fancy quips that we tend to see in other mass media.
But back to the plot and jist of the story. Cleary the first ‘job’ was just a touch too easy and it’s not really a spoiler to say that the tip was more of a ruse to flush out this thief for an even more daring opportunity. Power is always going to be the real treasure and a shadowy lord wants Gage’s help in acquiring it. The second half of the book is definitely more engaging and the build up to this seems a little stilted or contrived. Surely this great ‘Wraith’ wouldn’t have survived long enough to have been roped in to such an obvious plot. Perhaps there’s layers within layers here, or maybe we can just accept that it’s a means to an end.
Overall, I enjoyed this first issue of Gage and the Dragon’s Tear and was glad to have been given the opportunity to give it a read. What at first appears a fairly safe sword and sorcery style yarn develops into a more complex tale of politics and double dealings. With the promise of an evolving plot and pages that are easy on the eye, if fantasy is your thing, this is definitely one to pick up.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Adam Brown
Adam Tweets from @brother_rooster