Images © Monkeybrain, Inc, Richard Ellis and IDW.
I ordered this series knowing only two things about it: it’s written by Chris Roberson, who I’ve enjoyed working with, and the covers are by Michael Kaluta, a long-time friend and favorite artist. I was quite delighted to find out it’s a fantasy series with a young girl protagonist and a well-developed fantasy world background. There are some familiar elements to the story. First, the girl, known as Em, begins the story with amnesia, remembering nothing of her past, but we know she must be someone important because dangerous folks are after her. Second, she wanders into an antique shop of sorts that just appears one day. It’s a magical shop full of magical-looking things, and one in particular catches Em’s eye. The kindly owner gives it to her. It’s a key. Third, there’s a scarcastic talking cat.
Those are all story tropes that are time-worn almost to the point of cliche. But Roberson does a good job of working with them, and adding other less-familiar things, to create a story that holds my interest. The fantasy elements are a sometimes odd mix of things. For instance, the two of the baddies after Em are a ventriloquist’s dummy come to life and a man with many parts of his body replaced with metal. So, kind of an evil Pinocchio and an evil Tin Man. The door of the shop, as one might expect, doesn’t always take one to where one came in. And the key Em has? It fits the door. Some of the places it takes Em are interesting, and all the while forces from different parts of the fantasy world are getting involved on both sides of the hunt for her.
The art by Rich Ellis is good, though it has a somewhat generic look to me, there isn’t anything that stands out as a personal style. Parts of it remind me of several other artists. The figures and facial expressions are somewhat stiff, the sign of an artist still finding his way. The storytelling is fine, and there are some nice action scenes along the way. I’m certainly willing to give Ellis’s work time to grow on me. And of course the Kaluta covers are wonderful.
This is, in general, my kind of story, and I’ll be reading more. In fact, I’ll have another two issues to review shortly. Recommended.