When I think about fantasy, I think swords and sorcery stuff. Gods might be thrown in there too, but superheroes? Not usually, which is what this new series from Oni appears to be postulating. Is it good?
Night’s Dominion #1 (Oni Press)
So what’s it about? The official Oni summary reads:
Umber: an ancient, sprawling city where the rich live like kings and the poor are lucky to get their scraps. At its center, the tower of Uhlume rises, guarding untold riches. Though heavily guarded, with the right plan… the right people… the treasure is free for the taking. Enter our five players: the Bard, the Acolyte, the Asp, the Magus… and a barmaid? But this barmaid knows the city better than anyone. This barmaid hides a dark secret. And this barmaid needs to make a lot of money… fast.
Why does this book matter?
I think Kurt Busiek put it best: “Witty, textured, and clever, with elegant, gorgeous art, Night’s Dominion looks like the start of a grand (and fun) adventure.” Sounds great Kurt!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
A pretty scene.
Writer Ted Naifeh has the difficult task of introducing multiple characters, the overarching world, and set these characters out on a mission and I think he’s done it with this first issue. The issue opens with a song and a bard who sings it, but he’s also a man who is bringing the team together. This team shows up and the plan is set ala Oceans 11 as each character has a part to play. Everyone needs to be on board to pull it off, but like most stories some of them are hesitant to join in. Naifeh writes solid dialogue giving each of the characters a unique voice as well as different temperaments. That’s key as this “team” needs to have a bit of complexity to work.
The trick of this issue lies in a character being much more than they appear to be. It gives the narrative a bit of mystery and flips your expectations a bit. It also allows Naifeh to tell a story within the story, which is always welcome in fantasy tales like this. He also drops a mysterious character that is not unlike a medieval style Batman. I’ll leave it at that, but more of him please!
Generally the look and feel of this world is not unlike Assassin’s Creed, only set in a medieval type town filled with varying races of people common to our world. A bit of magic is about, but so far no wizards or dragons so it’s level headed with only the superhero elements just beginning to be revealed. The art itself is good and reminds me a bit of Autumnlands with atmospheric skies and dark shadows.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The book is light on action, so calling it a superhero fantasy comic is pushing it a bit. There is a bit of action, but if future issues are going to be like this one then expect more dialogue and character work than fight sequences.
Love that character design.
Is It Good?
Oni has an impressive fantasy comic on their hands. The characters are strong and the world is very original, making this a must buy for anyone hungry for new fantasy.