In Review: Jirni #4

An excellent epic fantasy. Recommended.

The covers: Four to quest for as if you’re Ara. The A cover is by V. Ken Marion and Juan Fernandez and it’s pretty epic. Reaching out to grab the book’s heroine is a gigantic R’anu, who’s casting some type of wispy putrid green energy from his hands and his eyes radiate the same sickly color. He’s appearing above a huge castle in a mass of pink clouds. Standing on a mountainside in the foreground is Ara, her sword held ready for battle. I love everything about this, with the inclusion of the planets in the background being the bow on top of this otherworldly image. The B is by Marco Lorenzana and Federico Blee. This shows the protagonist in a three quarters view, mostly from the back, as she’s walking somewhere against a swirling violet miasma on an orange background. Excellent moody piece that hints at the character without revealing too much. Great tease piece! The C is by Giuseppe Cafaro and JUANCHOo, and this is the illustration I’ve chosen to go along with this review. It’s a night shot of Ara and she looks amazing in blue and violet. Every swirl of her costume and emanation of blue flame is magnificent. The final cover, the D, is by Pasquale Qualano¬†and Erick Arciniega with Ara leaping down onto the reader, her foot about to connect, with a splatter of a red cape behind her, joining a black bulbous cloud on a dirty white background. Very stylized, but very cool. Overall grades: A A, B A-, C A+, and D B

The story: This penultimate chapter, “Sacrificial Lambs” by J.T. Krul, opens with gleeful children in a village running to witness the arrival of some things being led through the center of town. It’s a collection of eleven young blonde women in chains walked through town as the village’s denizens throw rose petals upon them. Among them is Ara, in disguise, who is among these women to free them and, hopefully, learn some more information about her mother. Captain Boro notices during the passage of his wares to a spokesman for the protector that there are eleven women instead of ten, but he lets this go. As the women are placed in a two large horse drawn boxes, Ara narrates her concerns for these women and befriends one named Imirah. The women are taken to a huge castle, seemingly existing on a mountain of clouds. The women are lead somewhere and meet with R’anu. They witness an event that causes Ara to realize the time has come. The remainder of the book features Ara’s attempts to get the women out of the castle and it’s very exciting, given the supernatural nature of the immense slender guards. There’s a good cliffhanger at the end of this installment and I’m excited to see how Krul gets Ara out of her predicament and how she saves the women, if any. Overall grade: A

The art: Sumptuous, epic, staggering, amazing are not sufficient enough to state what V. Ken Marion, penciller, and Mark Roslan, digital inker, have accomplish with this book. I’m an absolute nitpicker for details in art, and this talented pair slap me silly with all that this book has. The book begins with a scenic view from a mountain, where animals feed, down to a distant village with a docked ship. It then transitions to three children running to the center of town: look at the details on the girl’s face and the sensational work in the rocks that comprise the dwellings. The second page is a full page splash of the women walking through town. They are beautiful, but their situation is to be pitied. Every fold and crease in the clothing is wonderful. The reveal of the castle, a double half-page splash, is a dramatic bit of fantasy and terror that film makers and videogame designers would kill to have. The arrival of the antagonist is a terrific piece of theatricality, complete with writhing tendrils of smoke that ape his movements. His costume and facial hair instantly give him the gravitas of a villain. The ritual performed isn’t graphic, but more ghastly, and that’s a much more terrifying event to witness. Ara’s transformation into battle mode is very clever at the bottom of Page 13. The gesture she makes on 14 to show that she means business is spectacular. Her battle with the guard is as good, if not better, than anything Hollywood has produced, and the addition of flame into the fray only makes it that much cooler. This is the type of artwork one could spend hours looking at and still feel there is some aspect of it that’s been unnoticed. I stand and applaud this pair of artisans. Overall grade: A+

The colors: The same inability for sufficient adjectives of praise occur when discussing Wes Hartman’s work. Lovely greens and light blues are used splendidly for the mountains and skies of the first panel. They transition into the browns, grays, and tans of the village backstreet the urchins are running through. The women are standouts for the violet that they wear among the drab colored villagers’ garb. Ara’s narration boxes are in a strong deep purple, surrounded by a golden yellow, making them pop out to the reader. The castle’s clouds are ominous in smoky blue. R’anu is clothed in dark green, surrounded by sickly pea-green smoke. The scuffle Ara has with the guard is well lit by Hartman, allowing every detail of the art to be shown. With fire brought into the battle, the colors become very radiant, making their plight more of a life and death struggle. Hartman is successful with every color he puts on the page. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Josh Reed produces dialogue, Ara narration, two sounds, and the tease for next issue. All are easily read, and Ara’s narration continues to be visual impressive, making her thoughts regal and majestic. Overall grade: A

The final line: An excellent epic fantasy. Recommended. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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