Vault Comics 2019
Written by Andrea Fort & Michael Christopher Heron
Illustrated by Sam Beck
Coloured by Ellie Wright
Lettered by AndWorld Design
A new Songs for the Dead story: Bethany, the necromancer with a heart of gold, and Elissar, her prone-to-brawling companion, are off to find the Covenant—a sanctuary for Bethany’s otherwise reviled magic. Unfortunately, their map makes no sense. Seeking the help of a young wizard named Jonas, whose knowledge may unravel the map’s secrets, Bethany and Elissar discover a mysterious illness plaguing The Foggard temple, home to the ancient order of mages. Double-unfortunately, Bethany and Elissar are not on the best of terms following the recent and violent encounter at Boulder’s Envy.
I liked this. The writing feels like there have been previous adventures and we're just being introduced to the franchise now and that has it's benefits. It definitely has a homey feel to it and I like and appreciate that because it makes the reader feel invited to be a part of the story and of Bethany's group. The opening does wonders in make you feel for her and empathising with her not to mention wanting to slap someone silly. It is nicely done so that we see the opposition she faces and we see how certain groups are indeed unwilling, not unable just unwilling, to help as they turn their noses down upon them.
I love when the writing is so good that you feel what the character is feeling and you want to help them in their quest. She is a bit too nice and sometimes naïve for her own good and could use a good toughening up or at least someone with a high diplomatic score. I wouldn't mind a ranger or even a thief being brought into her group this way someone can talk the good talk. That I found myself not only thinking that but also thinking of ways in my head to retort Bryna using her own words against her. Thus becoming so engaged in the story on a personal level that there is no turning back now, I am in like Flynn as the saying goes.
Along with that the pair does some absolutely wonderful characterisation. That we can know these characters through their dialogue and actions, yes reaction to a situation as well, so quickly is a gift, talent and skill also apply. The story & plot development and the character development that we see here weave in and out of each other as the story dictates and when the pacing picks it all up and how it constantly moves it all forward is fantastic.
I do like what Sam does with the interiors here. Right off the bat you can see she has been working on her craft and the linework that I am seeing has those varying weights being utilised to create the attention to detail and it's utilised beautifully. We see posture and other indications in the body positions to enhance the characterisation. There is some unique and interesting ways we see depth perception happening here as well. The underground with those backgrounds are extremely nice to see and expand how we see and feel in that part of the story. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a nice solid eye for storytelling. I do like how much we see backgrounds being utilised. I like the colour work here and the effect we see surrounding Elissar. That is where the best work comes into play with the various highlight colours and various hues and tones. Much of the rest feel flat, more 2-Dimensional. That underground area with the candles and such was a missed opportunity.
I have to say that this is nicely done. I like the characters, I like how it feels new reader friendly and has that all-ages appeal. There is something about the way characters are introduced that makes it feel natural and not forced or “needed” to happen. The character development is sensational and as they split up and find what they need in the moment maybe that will help at least Elissar heal a bit. Regardless this young woman, Bethany, has the ability to inspire others to follow her and she has what it takes to a good role model.