Sample art from Umbral #1
The thing I most hate about Umbral is also the reason I love it, the language. When you think about the way people speak in fantasy tales it generally has an old English twang that can be traced back to the Father of modern fantasy JRR Tolkien. The old professor decided that with the hobbit we would use an old English speech pattern, that's the interesting thing about being an original creator you get to make decision that can impact creators work almost a century later. Unfortunately I am a fantasy fan and as such have grown up with the tradition and this is what Umbral was such as a challenge. Anthony Johnson (of The Fuse fame) decided to stamp his own mark on the story and instead of going in with an open mind I immediately went against it as it went against the status quo. Obviously this was a little bit of a small minded approach which I have now rectified reading the first volume.
This trade compromises the first arc of Umbral and drops us into a world of fantasy that is in the middle of something of an identity crisis. This is a land of magic but the inhabitants have rejected both magic and religion. Fit a fantasy take this is an interesting place start especially since as readers were are shown fairly quickly that magic does still indeed exist.
The main character of the story is called Rascal and she is a strong female lead who is also shown as a vulnerable child at times. You get the idea that this is a land where you need to grow up quickly but, no matter how fast we grow there is always a part of us that keeps to our age. The decision to make a young girl the protagonist helps to give the book even more of a unique selling point. Her journey sees her being pursued by all manner of adversaries as she tried to discover more about the nature of the Umbral. It's this mystical force that gives rise to the books name and stands as the central focal point, but the book has more depth due to its intriguing cast of characters.
The art however stands out as one of the best parts of the book. The catchers have emotion in their faces and when action is needed Christopher Mitten can deliver without missing a step. It's in the colours though where the at is truly lifted to it's heights, John Rauch and Jordan Boyd add color to the panels and the rest of the page that give the work an extra sense of depth.
The story is fast paced and complex so not easy to follow meaning this is not a dip in and out book. That makes the trade an ideal way to consume Umbral. Unfortunately there is not a lot of back matter except a brief bio from each of the creators. This does remove a little value but with six issues filled with great story and wonderful artwork Umbral comes highly recommended.
The Comic is available in both print from Image comics. Follow this link for more details.
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Images courtesy of Image Comics
Comic - Provided by Publisher
Comic - Provided by Publisher