I’m going to change-up my usual review routine that I’m sure is very transparent to most and start with the art. You see I’ve never really gotten into Christopher Mitten’s art. It’s not that I dislike his style or even stay clear of it. It’s quite the opposite really. I like his art style okay. I look at it like a TV show that you watch and like, but you’re waiting for it to become a must watch. To do something that will make you never want to miss an episode. Umbral was that “episode” for me in Mitten’s career. There is something about the world of this comic that matches and fits Mitten’s style that I absolutely enjoyed. Every panel was exciting and I craved more from both the story and art. Hopefully Mr. Mitten isn’t insulted by that previous statement, but again I have enjoyed his work. It’s just that Umbral was the right fit for him, making it all the more enjoyable. The coloring is perfect for the issue and the different hues are just right for the setting and tone.
As for the story it’s setting is that of castles and magic, just not our traditional setting for castles. It’s similar with bards and princes and such, but the magic is very real. It’s a day of an eclipse and for the king it represents an important day. It’s the first time the sun has dawned twice as he says and so the people want to see him and the queen when it’s all over. Meanwhile Price Arthir has dodged his handler to head to the roof to meet his friend a thief girl known as Rascal. She’s been waiting there since the night before when the security was lite. He lets her into the castle and they begin talking about magic. Rascal has a bottle of what’s called “Mist” around her neck and they’re apparently going to perform a spell of some kind with it. They head to the trophy room which houses the Oculus. Rascal seems very interested in the Oculus even though she states that she wants nothing to do with magic. When they arrive they find the Oculus gone and a man called Borus dead. Suddenly playtime just got a bit more serious for these two kids.
The story is wonderful. The world is dark, but the magic feels real. Rascal takes the lead as our main character from her first appearance and for good reason. It sounds strange, but I got a bit of an Indiana Jones vibe from her. She hates magic as much as Indie hates snakes. She swears like I do and never plays the damsel, meaning she stole my heart instantly. Even though she’s a kid, you can tell from her background that’s she wiser than her age. It made her a believable character, but she still was just a kid. She doesn’t have an answer for everything that’s going on in the world right now and frankly that scares her. It also makes the world exciting and dangerous.
It’s not that I went into this issue expecting to dislike it, rather I went in expecting I’d like it alright. Instead I fell for it and hard. I can’t wait until the next issue. I can’t wait to see how screwed over Rascal is and none of it from her own doing. The plot is big; the main character is bold, but the imagination and setting are even bigger and bolder. Don’t miss this book, especially if you like magic and adventure.
Writer: Antony Johnston Artist: Christopher Mitten Colorist: John Rauch Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 11/13/13