Review: THE REALM #1 (SPOILERS)
By RUSSELL BERGER
I’ve been building to this moment for what’s felt like a millennia– well, actually just a little over a year when Jeremy Haun (co-creator) first teased THE REALM, but you get my over-exaggerated point. I do have to admit, though, that I was starting to get a [tad] bit worried that I might have hyped it a little too much, but no, I’m certain I couldn’t have hyped it enough! This book delivered for me what’s easily describable as a grand slam with the bases loaded, or running the ball in from the one-yard line on the last play to win the game.
Something that hooked me, and I know will hook readers is that this #1 manages to perfectly meld the post apocalyptic with the awe strikingness that is the fantastical fantasy of Dungeons and Dragons,
Fifteen years ago, our world was overrun by creatures of myth; orcs, dragons, and other nameless horrors threw the entire planet into total chaos. Today, the shattered remnants of civilization must fight just to survive in a deadly new era of violence and mayhem. While a powerful sorcerer marshals his forces, a group of warriors embark on a journey to reclaim our world from the growing darkness. An all new post-apocalyptic high-fantasy adventure series from co-creators SETH M. PECK (X-Men) and JEREMY HAUN (THE BEAUTY) featuring colors by NICK FILARDI and letters by THOMAS MAUER.
Any biases I have for this book aside, the first act of the issue does an amazing job at introducing us to one of its main characters, WILL NOLAN, who’s an undeniable BADASS that isn’t to be messed with. Whenever a book is starting off, something I want to see almost right out of the gate is a solid cast of characters, and those who I can relate with on some level– clearly, the level that I relate with Nolan on is that I’m a total badass… I kid, I kid, but in all seriousness, having characters who a reader is able to tether to in some way is a prime ingredient in making a great story.
Jeremy and Seth [M. Peck] did great at achieving just that with Nolan, as well as making him an intriguing character from the jump. Over just the first two pages [or so] you can tell he’s been in the trenches of this new [but yet the same] world, and has ground his teeth fighting in what’s surely been an ungodly war. Any one who’s had hard times and pushes through anyway to make themselves better can connect with Nolan. Overall, they succeeded in general at introducing us to intriguing characters, even with the brief exposure of just a few pages, and doing that is absolutely commendable.
A focal point of this #1 was undoubtedly the art. Jeremy truly out did himself. I’ve been a fan of his since he did work for DC Comics on CONSTANTINE, and that’s since followed through from WOLF MOON [Vertigo] to THE BEAUTY [Image Comics.] You can always expect to get consistent crisp work from him. He’s easily on my Top-5 artist list, and his work here definitely makes it clear why.
The world building in this issue through both his [Jeremy] art and the [Seth’s] writing raised the issue another two bars easily. Like I had said, we see the combining of the post apocalyptic with the fantastical fantasy of Dungeons and Dragons, and it really paid off. One of my concerns was, that with the recently over saturatedness of post apocalyptic stories, that THE REALM would either be lost in the fray or simply overlooked, but the melding of the two sets this apart. It breathes a breath of fresh air into the genre and I’m sure that’ll help the book thrive in what’s a too frequently tapped genre.
If I had one complaint, it’d be that the exact reason as to why the world was overrun by myth and tossed into chaos wasn’t given to us. I would’ve liked a little more insight into the “why,” but the questions that were raised from being introduced to the villain, JOHNNY ELDRITCH, have outweighed my desire as to why the world was “transcended.” His introduction was something else. Seeing him sacrifice a person to commune with– something dark, it gives a good helping of mystery and heightens the curiosity of the “why.” It that the two are tied together — the “why” and this mystery voice — and are the moving force of the premier arc.
Now let’s talk about my favorite thing of the issue…
Ben. No, it’s not because I wish I had his beard, or that he’s who I want to grow up to be– okay, maybe a little, BUT his entrance was the most interesting of any of the other characters. Whenever a character has Orcs on the run, and they’re blatantely afraid of him– TERRIFIED, it means something huge. From his character design to the “lore” that we saw is built up behind him [already,] he’s an instant standout for me. The little we saw [of him] has me watering at the mouth for more, and that’s what I want out of every character I’m introduced to, let alone every book I’m reading.
I don’t know if it’s obvious (of course it is,) but I could go on for days about how much I loved this first issue. I’m sure over the next few, I’ll read it a dozen more times and see more than three dozens things I somehow missed the first pass because I was chomping at the bit to dive into the story. Out of every book I’ve read this year [thus far,] and knowing that setting the bar too high to begin with, I can’t help myself from giving THE REALM #1 a perfect score, 5 out of 5. This is must buy, must read material and not something you want to sleep on, or I’ve got a feeling you’ll regret it.
You can pick up this issue at your local comic shop, and THE REALM #2 will be hitting shelves on Wednesday, October 18th.