Umbral #2: “Falling into Dark” hit the shelves of local comic shops Wednesday, Dec. 18. If you’ve just picked up the first issue, you can see that page one sets a dark and mysterious tone for the rest of the series.
Enter a girl running full speed through a corridor of a castle built almost essentially of material waste sometime in another future. She witnesses the death of the king and queen of Fendin, a mythical place where the politics of magic are being weighed in a war that pits the needs of mortals against the dark side encroaching upon an impending eclipse.
Having already been baptized in the ways of the dark world, our main girl, Rascal, chose the path of the thief.
Out of pure instinct or greed or some secret message hidden deep within the recesses of her mind, Rascal snatches the sacred Oculus mid-flight, right as the dark creatures hovering in a clandestine cavern beneath the palace and now there are a bunch of Redguard archers trying to kill the unlikely pair of characters.
So what do you do in this predicament? Run!
Logic and reason stave off the subconscious thoughts of a young girl who sees shadows in the night and decides to fight her way out of her imagination, if only until the next run-in with a few more atypical baddies.
Elements of an old-school RPG pop up intermittently throughout the story, as readers refer back to the map of the land in the first comic in order to try and discern which castle our little thief will be running to next.
As can be expected, midway through the second comic, we meet a wannabe wizard in the second comic who uses sleight of hand and a bit of Mist to fool his enemies.
When speaking with the recently deceased Prince Arthir in the first comic (with a name reminiscent of the old mythology, fully dredging up scenes with swords and magic tomes) she waves off the concept of magic unwavering in her nonchalance.
At the end of the second comic, I’m left wondering from whence Rascal initially acquired the purplish dark matter she seemed so cynical about in the first book.
Then later in the second book, she jumps back in fear when shown an example of the unfamiliar character, Dalone’s, use of the Mist.
A word about the panels, they are so morose and gritty, with sketches harkening back to another world, divulging snapshots of grave dirt and noxious debris hovering about the scene.
Antony Johnston tweeted that the movie, “The Dark Crystal,” was definitely an influence on the creators’ decision to give into their curiosity and pursue this adventure, as unpredictably horrific as it may be.
I won’t give too much away, as you’re likely to find yourself tripping over slabs of ancient concrete and old machinery, finding your way stumbling through a maze of demonic thorns and sets of razor-sharp ghoul teeth, trying to see where this journey leads for our brave little heroine.
The third comic, coming out Jan. 22, should serve to fill in some of these gaps, maybe with a bit more backstory for Rascal.
There are a few questions lingering on the edge of my forebrain, after being plummeted into this world of nightmarish chaos, then ripped back out after 10 pages.
Such as, how can our Rascal run so fast she ditches extremely scary shadow monsters, anyhow? Does she have a secret power we don’t yet know of? And who is this Dalone fellow to her?
Maybe he’ll serve as a sort of Merlin, assisting the great King Arthur, as in the legend of yore.
Until the next issue, I’ll keep my toes curled waiting to see what happens next.