Writer – Antony Johnston
Artist – Christopher Mitten
Colors – John Rauch
Letterer – Thomas Maur
Publisher – Image Comics
Umbral by definition is the darkest part of a shadow, the part totally cut off from light. It is also the title of a new dark-fantasy/horror series from Image Comics that grabbed my attention with its first issue last month and with its second issue out this week, promises to hold onto it awhile longer.
Issue two begins with a couple of mysterious guys in a boat, attempting to sneak up to shore as Rascal is fleeing from an Umbral bent on her destruction and retrieving the Oculus that she carries. She escapes with the help of a man named Dalone and it’s off to find a safe place to hide out. Dalone is the only other person to see an Umbral up close and personal and live. Rascal, already suspicious of Dalone, flees from the old man when he uses the glow of some “mist” to fool a group of pursuing guards into thinking he is a wizard. We come to find out that in this world, both magic and religion are illegal. Dalone explains that it was merely a ruse to throw off the guards and they make their way to Rascal’s hideout.
This series is absolutely fantastic. From the original story by Antony Johnston to the dark and ominous inks and color palette of the art team of Christopher Mitten and John Rauch, Umbral delivers on horror, fantasy, action and humor. With such a dark story Johnston breaks up the tension with some great jokes, mostly delivered in the banter between Rascal and Dalone, and there are some really well done action panels as well.
The look of Umbral, although original, made me think of the movie Labyrinth if it were directed by Guillermo del Toro. I absolutely love the shadowy look of the artwork and the attention to detail and depth of this world, (The first issue included a map!). I would certainly recommend Umbral to fans of dark fantasy and horror but I think fans of other genres would dig it as well.
I think that Johnston and Mitten have created another great addition to the growing list of incredible books released by Image over the last couple of years and the fact that it’s a fantasy doesn’t hurt…for me anyway. I am really enjoying Umbral and can’t justify giving issue two anything but a solid……
5 out of 5 nerds