Full of powerful story driven as usual by Leong's unique visual approach, the sixth issue of From Under Mountains is its best entry yet.>When I've been down on From Under Mountains, it's only ever been because its overall oblique approach to the general plot has at times made the comic feel like it wasn't going anywhere. The past couple of issues, however, have really begun to tie things together in a way that is a boon to the overall series. More than that, however, these issues have been able to stand on their own, with this latest entry being Leong's most visually ambitious yet.
From Under Mountains throughout its serialization has not been a verbose comic where individuals are concerned. Personal experiences have largely been presented without commentary, driven by the feel and foreshadowing of color and Leong's ability to give motion to a static scene. Setting that tone for scenes made the lord's journey to confront his son's murderer a particularly powerful scene. A lot of weight was going to be placed on this scene because of its important explanatory role anyway; however, Leong matches and arguably exceeds the inherent weight of this scene with what I would consider to be the most visually substantive sequence of pages in this comic to date. The lord flashes back to the incident from his youth which must have ultimately led to his son's death. The result is a juxtaposition of present and past performed as Leong has often done with a rich, colorful approach.
As the sequence builds towards the type of mythical intrigue that we can expect from this series, it has a rare action sequence that isn't just somebody riding on a horse (not that the horse riding sequences haven't been compelling in themselves). Leong demonstrates that even when tasked with depicting a brisk fight sequence, the kinetic feel of the art is up to snuff and the action is easy to follow. The more comics you read, the more you appreciate fight sequences that are easy to follow. Having one such fight sequence at such a critical plot moment in the midst of a book where they aren't even a routine aspect is a big reason why this issue is so solid.
Gibson and Churchland have done great giving Leong room to do her thing on this title, but the comic is also finally at a point where I can say that I love this story. Any aspect of it which is familiar to readers of dramatic medieval fantasy stories has been presented in a way that does not feel tired and leaves a lot of room for interesting visual themes. Further, the world-building has proven to be far from cliche, and though most of the pantheon is at a distance from the story, at least one mythical figure has been made to feel very personal to this story, and has been an integral part not only of its plot, but of the story's entire look and feel. Ariana Maher on letters deserves a ton of credit for her work as well. I can't imagine having to letter any comic, frankly; but, having to go blow-for-blow on a page with the kind of original, disruptive layouts that Leong continuously dreams up is a job I envy even less.
If you put down this comic one or two issues ago, I encourage you to pick it back up. This issue really was that good.
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From Under Mountains #6 Story: Marian Churchland, Claire Gibson Writer: Claire Gibson Artist: Sloane Leong Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 4/20/16 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital