I know that you’re unable to see it, but I’m dancing right now. On the other side of your computer screen, I’m dancing. Why am I dancing? Well, that’s an easy answer– THE REALM is baaaaaaack, baby! This title is literally the most anticipated book on my monthly “fat stack” pull, and it’s rightfully so.

Looking at the list of books that also hit the shelves today (December 12th), you can see a large list of amazing talent on “it” books that have been around for years and years. Books that are household names. THE REALM manages to compete with those, and compete at the very top of the “best there (currently) is” level that these other writers/artists are working at for the BIG2 — DC Comics and Marvel. The last three issues have proven that, as they pull you further into the fantastical world that Will and crew are battling every day in, and I wouldn’t be still dancing if that wasn’t the case here.

If you recall, THE REALM #3 left us with our jaws on the floor. We saw a boy literally impaled! He was as dead as a dang doorknob.

Something I love about this title is how Seth M. Peck (co-creator) and Jeremy Haun (co-creator) keep the story flowing issue to issue, and that continued in this issue as we picked up right from that jaw dropper of an ending. We find ZACK DOA — dead on arrival — and what I can only draw the conclusion were zombies coming at Will and Molly. If you remember, Zack was running from a group of cloaked figures before taking a spear to the chest, it’s pretty obvious these “zombies” aren’t what he was running from, but they act as the “act or die” factor.

We quickly find out as Will and Molly are taking care of the nuisance, because I’m going to be honest here, and that’s all those “zombies” were. Gnats. We see Zack come back to life.

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Now, I don’t know about you, but I get real suspicious when people start pulling a Jesus and are rising from the dead all normal and shit. Zombies, like the quickly dispatched amigos in this issue, they’re expected to occur, but rising from a glowing aura makes my “something’s not right here” radar go off.

It was nice to see Rook in the same boat as I– which, I’m still very curious about who is under that helm. A beautiful shield-maiden? A disfigured warrior? Perhaps someone fantastical like the Orcs and what not? Rook’s identity is definitely turning up to be a subplot for me, and one I’m really interested in.

Art by Jeremy Haun, Colors by Nick Filardi

I love, love, LOVE foreshadowing. Whether it’s in novels, TV shows, movies or comics. I’m a huge fan of it, and that’s because it tends to get you thinking. Seeing the pieces of a puzzle laid out before you, and then trying to figure out both how the storyteller, in this case the duo of Peck and Haun, is (both) trying to mislead you and show you the way, it gets my blood pumping.

So with Eldritch getting a prophecy, and seeing some familiar faces– literally and figuratively, it to a degree kicked this issue up a notch. And it did that particularly with the story, because of what was laid out to us (the readers) and Johnny boy. Seeing Rook’s helm sort of shattered, it’s clearly done to make you think she’s going to die. Molly drawing back on her bow, makes you think she’s backed into a corner. Zack’s shirt untouched, could be something before he took the spear to his chest. And of course the biggest of it all is Will’s arm. That arm.

The ending of THE REALM #1 and seeing Will transform into what he did, it’s the very thing that’s building for me. Like pressure in a closed pot of water on the stove. You can tell something huge is going to happen with him, and this other “form” he has, especially since we’ve seen a sign of it in this very issue.

So if I were to pinpoint what I liked about this issue the most, it would be that prophecy scene.

Beep. Beep. Beep– yeah, I know, an air-raid siren would be more appropriate but I’m not the best at making that nose and not sure it’d come off as well without being able to hear it. But, I’m sure you know what time it is… yes, it is– How much of a bearded bad-ass was Ben this issue???

Art by Jeremy Haun, Colors by Nick Filardi

I had pointed out last review that it seemed Ben was getting less “air time” with each issue, and well, I was right. He was ultimately cut down to a single panel (not counting his beardiful smile in the prophecy), but I still feel like Peck and Haun are nailing it with his character.

I think what helps is seeing Redjaw and his Orc pack talking about “The Orc Slayer,” and seeing how feared he is with them that it’s turning into a boiling hatred. This really pumps up Ben, and the essential legend that surround him. I am very interested in finding out more about him, and perhaps seeing what’s caused him to become this merciless. Perhaps he’s lost a love to the Orcs and it’s turned him all “Dark Knight Returns” style of giving no shits.

Ben scores a 7 on the HMOABBAWBTI scale.

Art by Jeremy Haun, Colors by Nick Filardi

Another strong point for the title is the endings to each issue. Peck and Haun gives us “OH SHIT” moments in every issue, which instantly guarantee a next issue pick up. It’s a smart move, and though in other books it could be a bit safe, these cliffhangers are always perfectly devised and help push the story along.

This thing– whatever it is, looking like Starro from DC Comics sure has our crew of characters between itself and an Orc pack. This definitely makes me recall from old TV shows how they’d sign off when something like this would occur, “Our heroes are left facing a challenge they never have before! Will they survive, or succumb to its monstrosities? Stay tuned to find out!”

You can grab yourself a copy at a local comic shop, and THE REALM #5 will be hitting shelves on Wednesday, January 31st,

Everything comes to a head as the bloodthirsty orc horde descends on Will and his team, while help arrives from an unexpected source.

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