Written by: John Williams
Art by: Daniel Wong
Colours by: Paul Little
Letters by: Andrew A. Thomas
Cover by: Toma Feizo Gas
Published by: Joe Books
Riftworld Legends, in association with Joe Books, returned in September for the third instalment of its ten-part series. Jonathan Williams (writing) and Daniel Wong (Art) once again combine their talents to bring us a tale of fantasy, mystery, and fast-paced action. Paul Little (Colours) and Andrew A. Thomas (Letters) make up the rest of the team.
When last we left our heroes in issue #2, Fiona was preparing for her confirmation, but the revelation by her grandmother that she is a descendent of the murderous Quillan Grey threw everything into disarray. The Regents – an order of sages who keep peace in Valbrea – forbid the use of the magic called “Illusion” and watch for those who may be tainted. But determined to tell the true story of her father, Fiona’s grandmother transports us back to the island where Jackie and Shim were left marooned in issue #2.
One of the principal strengths of Riftworld Legends is its pacing. The third issue follows no less than three separate storylines (some many years apart), but rather than suffer from the complexity, it actually thrives on the back-and-forth panels, as if the comic were a primetime TV show. The dialogue is punchy, with Jackie’s sarcastic quips traded with Fiona’s moody sulking to good effect. In the latter timeline, Fiona is allowed more room to breathe, and she really emerges from the background of the first two issues to become a truly well-rounded character. Jackie, on the other hand, propels the story forward with action, fighting side-by-side with Shim as the island monsters attempt to serve them up as a snack. Each timeline feels distinct, but Wong also works hard to blur the space between them, giving the comic the magical feels its creators must be striving for.
Mystery however, is not only abundant with Fiona and Jackie, but also with Thora, the Dalurin huntress who saved Jackie earlier in the series. She is now prisoner to the crew who left Jackie and Shim to die on her home island. But while she may be a master of jungle, she struggles to adapt to the pirate world and to the strange whims of the captain. She certainly seems to be playing the long game, and though she gives us no dialogue in issue 3, we perhaps connect with her more than the other characters.
Overall, it’s that same connection which makes Riftworld Legends one of the comic books of the year. The cover art for this issue is very three-dimensional, but while this may catch an eye or two in store, it’s the dimensions found inside the pages of this story that truly sell it for me, and will surely have me coming back for more!