01 November, 2011

Skyward: The Genesis of the Exodus

Created, Written & Illustrated by Jeremy Dale

Review by Bernice Watson

Skyward is at heart a good, solid fantasy adventure that fondly embraces all the well-loved tropes of the genre. Country lad Quinn lives a life of pastoral bliss with his parents, Taryn and Corin, in their simple cottage in the woods. However, when a warrior who claims to know Quinn’s father shows up with a pair of evil-looking goblin lackeys, Quinn’s life is abruptly turned upside down.

As someone who lived and breathed fantasy literature as a teenager I immediately felt at home amongst the pages of Skyward. Dale deftly sets the scene and the reader is set to enjoy being swept along on the adventure with Quinn. Dale describes the story as an ‘all-ages adventure book with a smile’ and in this regard he has certainly hit his mark.

Some of the dialogue comes across as a little clichéd but I think that’s intentional, by his own admission Dale is out to create a lighthearted fantasy romp and his characters reflect that. This story is a loving homage to fantasy and includes many of the classic elements – the country boy who finds adventure, the mysterious sword, the warrior who has turned his back on his past and seeks a simple life.  I have no doubt that in future issues Quinn will gather around himself a group of unlikely, but stalwart, comrades who will help him in his quest.

This first issue has great pacing and quickly sets the tone of the story. The reader gets enough of a glimpse of Quinn’s ordinary life to understand and appreciate the unexpected turn of events in the latter half of the issue. Dale quickly sets up some intrigue especially regarding troubles in the land and how Quinn’s parents may have been involved but otherwise the broader political landscape remains a mystery leaving plenty of scope for the story to grow and develop in upcoming issues.

Jeremy Dale is already a well-known comic artist so it comes as no surprise that the art in Skyward is top notch. Apart from the cover this issue is finished completely in black and white (although a colour version is now available). I really enjoyed the style and rendering of the art, it feels almost as if the copy you hold in your hands could have been drawn especially for you, like you can nearly see the scratches made by the pencil on the page.

Dale has a way with the finer nuances of facial expressions that is sometimes missing in many comics. His skill in this area makes for a richer emotional palate in his characters and noticeably adds to the depth of the story. I also found myself appreciating the panel layout in this issue, it’s crisp and clean, easy to follow but diverse enough to be interesting.

Skyward is shaping up to be a classic high fantasy tale with all the adventure aspects readers know and love. If I had one criticism it’s that Dale’s writing is not yet as finely polished as his art but I have no doubt that with each issue the scripting will gain a little extra sparkle. A really enjoyable read!

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