Despite the variety that comes along in small press comics, traditional fantasy stories involving elves and fairies seem to be something of a rarity. That’s why, when one hits our (metaphorical) desk, we at take note. This week, James Blundell does just that with the first issue of Plague, which sees these fantastical beings surviving in the midst of a very human ailment.
Publisher: Harry Markos/Markosia Comics
Writer: Dennis MaGee Fallon, Jason Palmatier (Writers/Creators)
Artist: Zach Brunner (Artist/Creator), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
Price: £1.49 from ComiXology
Set during the early 16th century, in a world beset by the Black Death, Plague follows the journeys of three characters. Twylyth Tegg, an Elven prince who must lead his people after his father’s passing, Danann, a sprite fascinated by the humans she is meant to fear, and Friar who is all that remains of a Monastery whose faith wanes after he must bury his companions. All three have been affected in some way by the Plague which has hit their world and all three must find a way to survive as their paths cross while a vengeful zealot plots to destroy all connected to the mystical world of the Fey.
Plague #1 is a fairly interesting read, with it’s fantastical elements and woodland setting giving it a feel reminiscent of Kurt Busiek’s Autumnlands series. However, the initial pages into this title are slowing going as the pace feels off during the title’s first half. Also, while the story feels slow, it’s dialogue feels paradoxically rushed, with seemingly no time to breathe between panels, which seemingly gives the sense that this slower aspect of the issue is meant to be rushed through. Of course, this is not how the entire comic is thankfully, and the pace of the story picks up, especially after the stories of the lead characters begin to tie together. However, overall the writing feels clunky here and hard to follow due to a lack of explanation regarding this world’s more unusual aspects, such as the gathering of the King’s various courts.
Meanwhile, the art is solid, not fantastic but of a good quality and feels fitting for the context of the world. The style Zach Brunner employs gives the entire book a very Hellboy/B.P.R.D. vibe, which is certainly fitting given their shared subject matter. Meanwhile Brunner’s use of colours is equally fitting, which the earthy, natural colours of Brown and Green keeping Plague’s look grounded, especially with these fantasy creatures. There are moments of flash regarding the art, in particular, the battle sequences about two thirds the way through the book, which are colourful, plentiful and gorgeously stand out. However, the overall look of the book, while nice doesn’t really excel.
Plague is a book filled with incredible potential, but lacking in polish for the execution of this first issue. That said, the creative team haven’t produced a bad book here, just simply a title which can definitely be improved upon in subsequent installments. In that, both the writing and the art, while not perfect, certainly offer up a book which have the chance of being something really great.