By Cat Wyatt
Portal Bound is a new series by Aspen Comics, and it by far has one of the most colorful and bright comics I’ve seen in quite some time (which is saying something). Portal Bound is set in the far future, with a warrior princess, parallel dimensions, monsters, and magic. So what’s not to like about it?
Sybil is a teenage princess, but she’s the child of strife. Her parents don’t exactly see eye to eye (read: her father has become a maniacal megalomaniac, and her mother has stayed the sane person she always was). Sybil’s mother has been taken prisoner by the mad king, and so Sybil and her uncle (Horuk, brother to the king) have come up with the brilliant plan to try and reach out to another dimension for help.
This plan sounds great in theory, except they don’t actually know all that much about the world they’re hoping to make contact with. Sure, they know the water is different (almost poisonous looking), and the trees are a weird shade of green instead of pretty hues of pink and purple, but they don’t know the people at all.
Another potential flaw in the plan? Riley, another teenage girl, introduced in the first few pages, will be the one running the portal; and the only other person who knows how to operate it will be hopping through the portal (Uncle Horuk, of course). That sounds pretty risky to me since they’ve indicated that turning the portal on will more or less alert everyone around them. Wouldn’t this leave Riley in a pretty dangerous position? She’ll have to hide or defend herself, and the portal machine, in order to ensure that they can ever come back. Um. Risky. But then again, it doesn’t seem like they have an abundance of options, so moving on.
I’ll admit I’d love Riley’s enthusiasm for her work. She clearly loves exploring and learning about the parallel universe (and seemed pretty put out when informed she had to stay behind). I don’t really blame her there, though at the same time I have to wonder how she could ever bring herself to leave a pretty world like hers (seriously, the trees and the tech alone are absolutely stunning – if a little bright).
Meanwhile Sybil is pretty confident about her part of the plan; get into the other dimension, find her equivalent there, and get some reinforcements. Pretty simple, right? Being that she’s a warrior princess she certainly isn’t lacking in self-confidence, I’ll give her that.
Oh, and the other dimension they’re planning on hopping to? I’m sure you guessed it by now, but its earth; as in our earth. While we certainly have an abundance of warriors around the planet, I don’t think they’re the type Sybil was hoping to find (I’m getting the impression that they were counting on the magical backup variety), and I find it equally unlikely that any of our military branches would be willing to just send a bunch of their men into another dimension on the say so of two people (I’m going to choose to ignore the potentially dangerous ramifications of anybody finding out about a parallel earth).
Anyway, apparently the portal that Riley is controlling is directly connected to a spot in Virginia, USA. What exactly is in Virginia, you ask? Well, I’m not sure that the parallel Sybil is (I doubt they could pinpoint her that easily, but I could be wrong). There is one person of interest here however, a teenager named Eli. He doesn’t seem fond of music festivals, which is ironic since he’s currently at one.
I’m sure you can guess exactly where that portal opened. Sybil and her uncle come pouring out of the portal, knowing full well that Emperor Atilus’ army is almost directly behind them (not a great situation to be in). They don’t find the army they were hoping for (of course), and instead find themselves amongst a bunch of civilians incapable of defending themselves. How does that saying go, out of the frying pan and into the fire? Their problem has just gotten so much worse. They didn’t get the backup they were hoping for, the army still found them, and worse yet, they now have a bunch of humans they need to protect (it’s only right, since this is literally their fault – even if they didn’t mean for it to happen).
There are a couple more twists and turns in the introduction of this series, which does a great job of keeping the pace going. I’m curious to see where it’s going to lead next, though if I’m being honest what I really want to see is more of the parallel universe (it’s so pretty…).
This is an interesting series, so far. In some ways it reminds me of other series (Soul Eater with the weapon arrangement, for example), but it also feels totally different at the same time. They’ve got a decent sense of pacing, though I’m hoping that later issues will be able to slow things down just a touch (to allow for more time in character development and world building). It has strong bones though, so I’d be interested in seeing where it leads.
The artwork is so bright and cheerful, which is interesting considering the dire circumstances Sybil and her family seem to be in. The world is very clearly both like and unlike earth, with the biggest differences relying on color changes (which may sound lazy, but really it allows us to quickly identify what we’re looking at, while still knowing it’s different).
Portal Bound #1