Review: Umbral #5

Umbral05-Cover“…I am the one who understands how special Rascal is. I am the one who will teach her to wield magic, to save us all from Umbral.”
– Dalone

Comic books tell all sorts of different tales. There are ‘crime of the week’ ones. Stories from outer space. Superhero tales with elaborate histories. Zombie apocalyspe stories. Vampires. Robots. You name it, and there is a genre that I’m sure you will enjoy and love. Umbral is none of those kinds of tales. Umbral is in a class all it’s own, wielding characters that you love and hate and some that inspire. Each issue is jam-packed with quality story-telling and magnificent art and Issue #5 sets the stage for the final issue in the outstanding first arc.

We last left Rascal in the Red Princess Tavern hiding out from the Thieves Guild that want her captured and need the Oculus she possesses. Umbral #5 continues right where we last seen our lovable characters, hiding out inside their room and Profoss Munty joining them. The diversity and world, that Johnston and Mitten have created, make this such a sophisticated tale that you will kick yourself in years to come if you don’t jump on now. The ink and the colors are very different than anything else on my Pull List. The best part of this issue is we learn that our favorite Wizard, Dalone, is still alive but what we don’t know is if he is an Umbral meant to look like him or if it is actually him. I hope it’s him because I enjoy his and back and forth with Rascal.

Munty tells us a tale of Stakan, a warrior of long ago, who lead the armies of man to rid the world of the Umbral that had taken over. His tale gives us vivd detail of the history Rascal’s world is set in. This is something I have been looking forward to since issue one and would make any comic that much more interesting. We learn that long ago there were three brothers that controlled the different lands across the globe; Tenebros in Vast Mordenos, Luxan controlled Ocus Luxana, and Umbral, or the underworld (read:Hell), was lead by brother number three, Umbrith. Umbrith coveted his brother’s land and created a situation where they would fight and weaken themselves. Umbrith used the resulting magic to create the Shadow Creatures that we know to be Umbral. Now we know how they came to be named and how they were created. All three brothers were extinguished in the ensuing struggle and The Peak, a mountain formed of magic Mist, was formed.

I won’t spoil the rest of the history for you but I will tell you that Strakan, the warrior I mentioned earlier, rose in the ranks to become a legendary hero, which I’m sure is where the city of Strakhelm got it’s name. The rich history we are told really fleshes out the story and gives us even more information of what is happening and why. Rascal’s world has grown so much in the past few issues that the choices in front of her, in regard to escaping, are endless. Prince Arthir (whom we know to be an Umbral form previous issues) is hot on their trail and actually catches up to them at the Red Princess Tavern before they escape to an adjoining room.

Issue #5 is a great read and is essential in our understanding of the world Johnston and Mitten have created for us. We learn the origins of the Umbral, however, more questions are raised when Dalone returns. What is the Orbis he was speaking of? How did Dalone survive? Most importantly, what is it that the Umbral ultimately want. The Oculus must be more significant than Munty made it out to be if Prince Arthir is trying so desperately to attain it. The continuing struggle of Rascal and her friends comes together nicely in this issue of Umbral and the art by Mitten, Boyd, and Mauer continue to mesmerize. Chasing Shadows, the title of issue six, can’t get here soon enough so we can learn more about this spirited and magical land.

Thoughts and Discussion

– What is the Orbis?

– Is Dalone an Umbral or did he really survive last issue?

– What do the Umbral ultimately seek? Do they just want to destroy everything or are they after Magic? Or is it something else entirely that we have yet to learn?

– Is Profoss Munty being completely honest with Rascal and Shayim? Something tells me that something fishy is going on.

Story: Antony Johnston Art: Christopher Mitten, Jordan Boyd, Thomas Mauer
Story: 9 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy