Michael Avon Oeming has been an artist of unique style and storytelling abilities I’ve kept an eye on for what seems like decades. Most notable for his work on Powers with Brian Michael Bendis, Oeming has given readers a different sort of comic reading experience across publishers. Today, Oeming embarks on After Realm Quarterly, a new quarterly series at Image Comics that he is writing and drawing with the aid of Taki Soma on colors and Shawn Lee on letters. This fantasy series is a love letter to mythology, fantasy series, and ’80s arcade games. Running 48 pages, the first issue is an epic and that epic feel suits the story at hand.
I’ve been a fan of Oeming’s art for some time and here you can see he’s trying out new things built on the back of his already strong artistic style. I dare you to read the first two pages and not be captivated by this world he’s introducing us to. When you see Fenris the sun eater burst from the Earth you’ll linger just a little longer than usual on the beast on the page. There are interesting uses of color too, like when the main character jumps down from a tree and there is an ’80s style neon trailing of light. You see this effect in a few places. The main character named Oona is also well drawn, and you’ll feel a kinship with her quickly thanks to her expressive nature.
The story at hand here is quite cool, especially if you like creation or doomsday mythology. The book opens on Oona and her friend, but soon the world is falling apart and Oona and her elvish people are rushing to safety underground. The main portion of the book is focused on Oona trying to escape to save her friend and in these pages, we learn a bit about her people, supporting characters, and the world at large. There’s a building towards a great adventure not unlike The Fellowship of the Ring where you know a great journey is before our hero and it’s only a matter of time before they set off. I’m also digging the lesson within this story which should feel poignant given the official Doomsday Clock was moved closer to midnight.
Supporting characters like Pookah, Oona’s goat protector, adds layers to the book that make it feel like it’s building towards something. Loki is an interesting character that has a different look entirely from what you might be used to from Marvel Comics. The general feel of the characters is like out of Dark Crystal or Lord of the Rings. They have a lived-in feel as if they always existed, which is an important element to any fantasy series.
The book ends with a cool visual guide to what inspired the series as well as a similarly crafted preview of what is to come. Fear not if you’re not a huge fantasy fan, as it appears Oeming and company will be delving into sci-fi and dystopian storytelling next issue.
This is a compelling high fantasy series that’s filled with visual delights that lives and breathes. Check this out for a longer form single issue experience.