Review: Umbral #2

This is a harder review for me to write than the first issue was. It’s probably due to the fact that so much happens that I don’t know where to start; what do I leave out and what do I make sure that you know? I enjoyed the issue, but in a lot of ways it’s an issue you just want to enjoy and not critique. Well enough of that let’s dig into this issue shall we? I’m going to pick back up with Rascal where we left her in the last issue because the opening didn’t make much sense to me. I’m not sure what it tied into exactly and if it’s what I think then it wasn’t a strong connection. Any ways, Rascal has discovered that Jinglefingers is actually one of the creatures she encountered in the castle. Apparently they’re called Umbral; in my first review I speculated that “Umbral” referred to the land in which Rascal traveled and hey it might have a double meaning, but for now it’s just our smoky looking bad guys.

Rascal manages to jump over the ledge and escape, but our Umbral switches back to his human form and calls the guards to capture her. She makes a run to the wall and is nearly home free when a bolo whip hits her and drops her back to the ground. She tells them to just kill her which confuses the guards because they’re humans and just think that she’s stolen from Jinglefingers. At that moment our blonde tramp that attempted to help Rascal in the first issue, reappears and offers his assistance again. She’s a bit creeped out by him following her, but after her rescue he tells her that they have much to discuss and need to get a move on it.

umbral02_coverThere wasn’t much if any character development in this issue, but I do have a sense of Rascal’s personality. It was more character expansion. The way she acts towards Dalone, the blonde tramp, is humorous and accurate. Why should a young girl trust a dirty old man following her? What was more interesting was when Dalone “used” magic and seeing how Rascal responded to it. It’s clear that this city is fearful of any kind of magic. Rascal becomes more frightened of Dalone than she was of the Umbrals at this point.

Antony Johnston writes a fun story that entertains from beginning to end. I know what’s happening on the page, but I couldn’t tell you what’s happening in the overall plot and that’s exciting. Why are the Umbral there? Where are they from? It’s why we read stories, to discover a mystery and explore something new. So often I can see through the formula due to the genre or just the fact that there’s a formula, but Johnston focuses on telling a story. Umbral doesn’t fit in this genre or that. It can’t be compared to something else other than perhaps its influences, but overall he’s just telling a creative story and telling it well.

I said in that last issue that the veil has been lifted from my eyes on Christopher Mitten’s artwork. That holds true in this issue as it takes on a flight or fight pace that never really slows down. I talked about the fear on Rascal’s face when Dalone performs “magic” and that’s all Mitten. That fear is so real when you see it and this is after she’s witnessed the King and Queen murdered and chased by demonic creatures. Think about how scared she must have been then if magic was more frightening then than all that. Mitten’s art really is a strong part of what made this issue and the series in particular so much fun to read.

Well the first issue of the series was pretty damn popular and I can’t see people walking away from it after reading the second issue because it was just as good. It’s rare that I don’t want to review a book because I just want to enjoy it, but that was the case here. If you liked the first issue you’ll definitely dig this issue and then like me you’ll be looking forward to next month.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Antony Johnston Artist: Christopher Mitten Publisher: Image Comics Price: $2.99 Release Date: 12/18/13