Written by: Seth M. Peck
Art by: Jeremy Haun
Colours by: Nick Filardi
Letters by: Thomas Mauer
Cover by: Jeremy Haun
Published by: Image Comics
September 13th sees the release of the highly anticipated series “The Realm” from Image Comics. Seth M. Peck (X-Men) and Jeremy Haun (The Beauty) act as co-creators for the post-apocalyptic high-fantasy adventure, with Nick Filardi (colours) and Thomas Mauer (letters) helping to make up the rest of the team. Below is the official synopsis featured on the Image Comics website:
Fifteen years ago, our world was overrun by creatures of myth; orcs, dragons, and other nameless horrors threw the entire planet into total chaos. Today, the shattered remnants of civilization must fight just to survive in a deadly new era of violence and mayhem. While a powerful sorcerer marshals his forces, a group of warriors embark on a journey to reclaim our world from the growing darkness.
If the premise of “The Realm” seems familiar, it’s because facets of it have been seen before. The cover itself sports a hero whose half-Rick-Grimes-half-King-Arthur, with the world behind painted with every shade from Left for Dead to Alien. And yet, this smorgasbord of high fantasy and science fiction is what gives “The Realm” such an alluring appeal in the first place. The fractured communities typical of The Walking Dead are here, yet so too are the strange Tolkienesque creatures and the downplayed magic made popular by series such as Game of Thrones. Haun and Peck have clearly set out to build a bridge between two of the most popular genres of the 21st century, and while it’s an ambitious project to say the least, there’s every hint in Issue #1 that they may mix the mortar right.
“The Realm” understands first impressions count, and so it dresses to impress right from the opening panels. While popular post-apocalyptic novels such as The Hunger Games and Divergent rely heavily on exposition and dialogue to ground the reader, “The Realm” takes advantage of its chosen medium, fleshing out its ruined world with visuals alone. Here, the work of Filardi is pivotal, as sickly yellow skies are paired with neglected tones of grey to great effect. The actual danger at hand for our hero Nolan is left to the audience’s imagination, with the only clues shattered glass, lingering shadows, or a street scarred with abandoned cars. If anything, the real conflict stays front and centre with the characters, who are thrown into action in a flurry of battle scenes. The fantasy elements are only teased out bit by bit, indicating the writers plan to drop a few more breadcrumbs before they reveal just what exactly happened to the world to give us the Realm as we find it.
Overall, Issue #1 of “The Realm” is akin to the pilot episode of any large scale series, with the camera at best panning over the cast of characters. But while this initial instalment fails to explore the protagonist Nolan or his fellow survivors in much depth, there are suggestions that the narrative will become more focused with each entry. After all, a motley crew is to be assembled, knitting the individual plotlines in Issue #1 closer together. Whether the heroes will be a match for the monsters that await them on their journey, it remains to be seen, but what is certain is that “The Realm” will be a riveting clash of genres that could take high-fantasy comics in a bold new direction.