Image Comics 2016
Written by Rick Remender
Illustrated by Jerome Opena
Coloured by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by Rus Wooton
Long ago, Zeb’s steadfast refusal to hear the Mud King’s offer sentenced his family to exile and hardship, and now it costs him his life. The Piper warns Zeb’s son, Adam Osidis, that he and his family will share this fate, lest Adam come and bend the knee before the Mud King and hear his offer. Ravaged by anger, guilt and a disease that will claim his life in a matter of months no matter what, Adam decides to travel the long road to the fallen capital of Zhal to confront the Mud King, the man who tarnished his family’s honor, cast them out of their home and murdered his father…
There is something incredibly awesome about this whole story. On a faraway planet that feels backwater and alone the Mud King rules by fear and treachery. Those who stood up to him are gone, sent into either exile or killed. Yet Adam with only a short time left to live has come to him to seek retribution for his father, his family and their name. It has this feel that it would do well in a Star Wars setting, granted no flying ships but with a rebellion against a dark lord ruler on a planet filled with alien species who have towns with markets that Luke or Rey would frequent, the atmosphere is much akin to those even if the details are different.
Jerome and Matt do some absolutely stunning work on the interiors here. The attention to detail is amazing to see. The use of page layouts with angles, perspective and those all important backgrounds really flesh out the story more fully and the moments the scenes are placed in. There’s this real sense of life and poverty going on here too that is just powerfully portrayed. The creativity and imagination in creating the alien races showcase some wonderful talent as well as the fight scenes with the Mud King and his forces. The boys really do help make the interiors as riveting as possible and match the intensity of the story.
That we get both some great background information in the form of Adam finally learning the secret of why no one should be told his name is illuminating. I love seeing his father’s power in play and how it’s used to show Adam the history of his family and why his rules are so important. Yes he’s angry at his son but he also realises it’s as much his own fault and that kind of characterisation goes a long way in endearing the characters to the reader.
The surprise ending here is delightful. It’s nice to see this and more importantly for Adam to realise that perhaps he’s not alone in this world and that there are other ways to deal with the Mud King than he previously thought. Though I have to admit that seeing the girl from his past that took such an interest in him as a boy being grown up as he is and firmly entrenched with the Mud King was a superb touch.
There’s classic elements of a science fiction and fantasy at play here. They meld under Rick’s guidance to create a new legend that draws you by your imagination and keeps your attention. Alongside some stellar interior artwork it’s like we’re seeing the next big epic in the genre coming to life before our eyes.