When you like something you read it’s hard not to start a review with flattery. You almost want to save it since telling everyone “I loved this story” would chase them off from the review. They have your opinion at that point. Still… I loved this story. The Waterbringer has been one of the best things I’ve read all year. The story takes place in a palace under siege. The enemy has ignited the mines and now the kingdom is trapped and scared. After a bit more backstory we slowly zoom into the palace and find the King stabbing the Queen… with a big fucking sword. She attempts to arm herself, but fails. The King then asks for his daughter to brought to him and you know that it’s not for good reasons.
From there we meet the daughter and her mother’s Huscarl, the Waterbringer. He’s a warrior that controls water and can be healed by it as well. The princess is prepared to escape, but she’s hopeful that her mother will sway the King. Until the knock at her door. Her line of dialogue after that knock is wonderful. I won’t spoil it for you, but my goodness was it great. The rest of the issue is spent following the Princess as she tries to escape the castle. The Waterbringer fights and protects her and gives it their all to protect the princess from other Huscarls and of course her father.
This is a tragic, tragic story. I mean that about everything, not just the mother’s death. War is hell and this story shows that. Creator M.D. Penman creates a wonderful world though. I was instantly interested in the different Huscarls, what their role in the world was and how they came about. I wanted to know more about the kingdom and its role in the world. The world development was tremendous and sucks you right in.
Penman’s dialogue is very believable. The Waterbringer never talks, but says plenty with the art. On the reverse is the Princess who says everything. She doesn’t do the annoying thing where she talks for the Waterbringer, but rather she just has a one-sided conversation. Never waiting for an answer, never saying something that needs a verbal response. Some of it is just her talking out loud to hear herself and that was okay. It was completely believable given the situation.
The art is a huge part of this story’s success. Penman’s artwork is almost like an animated fairytale, but with a hint of maturity. Well actually real fairytales have maturity, but it’s more in line with our modern views of fairytales. The art is in all black and white with grey tones. Again, it’s very animated looking. You can see the movement on the page it’s that dynamic. The facial expressions are terrific and really add to the character’s personalities, but then also the dangers that they face. The character designs were unique and didn’t feel like a copy of any other kingdom design. The artwork was impressive to say the least.
This is a standalone story, but I get the impression it’s a part of a larger world. I would love to visit this world some more, be it with the same characters or new ones. Penman’s crafted a wonderful story that really demands more exploration. The kicker is that I would recommend this to younger readers as well as mature readers. It’s not too gruesome and has a very rewarding story. Hell, it would make a great first comic if you’ve never tried one. This is one of those great finds that really encompasses everything that’s great about the comic book medium.
The Waterbringer Creator: M.D. Penman Self-Published Format: OGN; Print Website