By Dustin Cabeal
I fell in love with this comic hard at first, though I was left with some reservations about it in the end. Even still, Scales & Scoundrels does a wonderful job of creating a fantasy world that you would want to visit. Anymore in comics, the fantasy worlds are dark and terrifying. Who the hell wants to visit a fantasy world like that? Sure, if you’re the goddamn chosen one you might have fun, but one of the great things about fantasy literature is the amazing worlds they create. In a lot of ways, Scales & Scoundrels reminded me of Spera, which is a fantasy world with dangers and politics, but still one that would be fun to experience.
The story starts off in a pub with a card game. A classic western trope that’s been adapted to the fantasy genre. Of course, our main character Luvander has won the game and is being called a cheat. There’s an homage to Kung Fu movies as someone draws a sword and Luvander stands on it and kicks them in the face. The pub gets rowdy after this, but Luvander pulls down fire from the air. This is apparently a trait of Dragons as everyone runs screaming “Dragon, dragon!” Luvander runs after this, and we get a bit of an Aladdin vibe, especially when she helps the homeless.
A lot of this is just setting up Luvander’s personality. Showing how she’s unafraid of trouble but causes plenty herself. She cares about money but has a soft side for others. It’s a wonderful bit of character development leading up to the ending in which we find someone chasing her and a new adventure waiting for her.
It’s the new adventure I have qualms about; it instantly added two characters and seemed counter to everything we just learned about here from the story and narration, but hey we did just meet her in this issue. The writing is quite good, and the only problem I had with it was the narration in the middle that seemed to shortcut a lot of her backstory. It was just strange to have narration suddenly. Otherwise, the dialogue is believable and has a nice flow to it. The secondary characters are just that, and so they remain to be developed, but you walk away with a sense for Luvander’s character.
That art is gorgeous. The line work is clean and detailed. The characters all have great designs, even the throwaway characters that we’re unlikely to see in the story again. There’s a sense of realism to this world that’s brought out by the artwork. That and everything is cute, and I don’t say that as a backhanded compliment. It’s just cute looking and pleasant to the eyes. The coloring is bright and rich. It’s colorful and fantasy looking but in a warm and welcoming way. It’s like a fantasy video game; you want to explore it because of how inviting it looks.
I knew from the cover that I would like this title. The art reminded me of Spera, and that’s a good thing to remind me of in general. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the story was built and developed in this first issue. Hopefully, the journey that Luvander is going to embark on is short because it seems as if the charm of her adventures will be that she can always go on a new one. We’ll see, but if you’re looking for a different fantasy comic this week, check out Scales & Scoundrels. It’s unlike a lot of Image’s titles but in a great and refreshing way. Not every fantasy comic needs to be about the end of the world or fighting some great evil, it can just be about treasure hunting and living as a dragon.
Scales & Scoundrels #1