Oni Press 2017
By Ted Naifeh
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
There’s a conspiracy afoot in Umber, and it involves the House of Asps. After Emerane pays a visit to the House, she discovers just how far the conspiracy goes—all the way to the Lady Madras of the council. Or does it? When Emerane confronts the woman, she discovers an ambush from the Asps—and when she tries to escape, she’s shot through with arrows. Who is the real enemy? Will Emerane live to find out?
I am a complete and utter fan of this series and have been since the get go. Not only did it start out feeling a Dungeons & Dragons adventure complete with a unique and diverse set of characters but now it’s gone so far beyond that. After the group managed to win the day in Season 1 they’ve kind of gone their separate ways and that’s led to where we find ourselves now. Emerane off on her own got into a world of trouble acting on her own, though her confidence bordering on arrogance is usually enough to see her through things. Things however are not always what they appear to be and that’s even more true when it comes to not only the woman she confronted but to Emerane herself.
The opening here is something great. I mean the city itself has known war and peace and is in a state where things are back to normal or so they think. While everyone is celebrating a religious holiday, even Wikan, things suddenly go terribly, horribly wrong. I’m not sure what would have been worse a zombie invasion or what we see here? I’m pretty sure the city isn’t bankrupt and that they’ve had to lay off their Warden’s but it would seem there’s a new sheriff in town and he’s a piece of work. Right from the start we get a damn good look at him, his personality and the fact that he’s as far from a good guy as they come.
Ted does some amazing characterisation here. From Wikan and the young woman he’s with to this Amarad (The Black Hammer Commander) he ensures that we know who they are even if they wish to seem ambiguous. I also really like that the flow of the story, the pacing, is impeccable as it is so that the particulars are presented to us in ways that continue to surprise and thrill. It isn’t always easy to keep things as fresh and breezy as Ted makes it appear.
I’ve said it before but i’ll say it again, that Ted can do the interiors as well as the writing is admirable. His unique style makes this world come to life beautifully. The way he uses page layouts through their angles and perspective showcase his eye for storytelling visually. That everything we see is as he intends it to be so that we’re getting the maximum bang for the buck as it were is immeasurable when it comes to enjoying this.
I love the twists and turns this issue takes. There is a sense of something so much larger going on and that Wikan is out of his league when it comes to facing it. Hell from what we see here friends are enemies, or are they?, as they certainly act the part in public. I am anxious to see what’s coming next and how things are going to coalesce so that our intrepid band of heroes reunites once again in a way that will once again make their city free and safe for all it’s citizens.
Ted is a one of a kind storyteller who’s able to combine his writing and illustration talents to create a world both familiar and foreign where you want to be.