Synopsis: GREG RUCKA proudly presents a new direction in adventure with…COMPASS!
Shahidah El-Amin is many things: scholar, cartographer, astronomer, mathematician, scientist, explorer, adventurer, and—when need be—two-fisted fighter. Setting out from Baghdad’s legendary House of Wisdom during the Islamic Golden Age, Shahi’s quest brings her to 13th-century Britain…where the Welsh are whispered to possess the secret of eternal life. But Shahi’s not the only one after it…
The story opens with Shahidah El-Amin breaking into a rather imposing castle. As she goes deeper into she accidentally triggers a trap, which sees the ceiling begin to come down on her. Fortuitously she manages to make an escape. But only just. Finally, she gets to her quarry. A lone chest awaits her inspection. The adventure is only beginning and this first issue does a pretty good job of introducing some of the key players.
Justin Greenwood brings some thrilling artwork to this opening issue. Right from the get-go. It feels like you are reading and looking at the pages of a movie pitch. Think Tome Raider, but in medieval times. The drawings of the key characters are nicely done. Shahidah El-Amin cuts a striking figure and feels very believable as well as likable. We like the cut of her gib. But it is the action sequences at the start of this comic that really sells it. There’s a real sense of tension and movement in the opening few pages. It put me in mind of the opening 5 minutes of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. The visuals of the castle interiors and Shahidah’s journey through the corridors were brilliant down. I loved how Greenwood played with the shadows in these opening pages.
It has to be said. Robert Mackenzie and Dave Walker have come up with a brilliant story here for Compass! I really like the juxtaposition of pulp action-adventure with real history. In particular, a part of history, which is not particularly well known in the western world. They’ve created a wonderful character in Shahidah El-Amin and I am looking forward to spending more time with her over the course of the remaining four issues. Indeed, this first issue does a wonderful job of establishing her credentials as the main protagonist.
Overall. Compass! is the sort of pulp story that I can get behind. I love the fact that we have an Arab Muslim as the lead character and look forward to learning more about her and the part of history that she hails from.
Overall. A brilliant start, and some great additional materials from the writers in the last few pages to give us some historical context. I can’t recommend this one enough. Much like ‘The Good Asian’, which is also from Image Comics. ‘Compass!’ takes a much-loved genre and turns it on its head, but also educated about a period of history, which is not taught too much in western schools.