In Review: Oberon #1

The fairy king needs a girl for a devious plan, but she has to assist him willingly.

The covers: There’s a pair of covers to collect, should the forest folk allow you to find them. The Regular cover is by Milos Slavkovic who is responsible for this book’s art and colors. This is movie poster quality with little Bonnie at the bottom of the image opening a large book as several unsavory fantasy characters look over her shoulders. Just above her is Oberon. He is not watching Bonnie’s actions, but is looking at the reader with a slight smile. It could be an invitation or it could be warning. Behind the characters are three vertical panels: Sir Thornberry XVI protecting The Light of the Always, the Rot Golem, and an array of flying books. All of these elements are in this issue, so it teases much without spoiling anything. A perfect cover. The Incentive cover by Marco Rudy is a much more dramatic piece. Oberon is slightly in the right lower center with his coat open. He looks omnipotent with his face wearing a slight smile and yellow and white energy exploding out of him. Within the coat is an image of Bonnie standing on a grassy cliff, her back to the reader. A flock of white birds fly about, as does something with a dragon-like tail. A tree is barely visible in the lower left and it has a face. This image is primarily in blue and is a stark contrast to to Oberon’s yellows. Nice, but hard to find a focus. Overall grades: Regular A and Incentive B

The story: This is a neat fantasy tale. Writer Ryan Parrott begins by charting the lineage of Sir Thornberry XVI and how he and his ancestors have guarded The Light of the Always from the Nevermen. The story then transitions to San Francisco present day as Bonnie is being schooled at home by her mother. She is very bright and ecstatic that she gets a reward trip after learning her lessons. She asks if her sister will go with her, but Riley declines. In fact, Riley says, “Bonnie, you are the smartest dumb girl, ever. You’re homeschooled, Mom and Dad don’t let you have any fun — or friends, for that matter — and you totally love them for it? How are we even related? Sis, you’ve been totally brainwashed. Do yourself a favor…find yourself a life before Mom and Dad smother you to death.” This harsh response has Bonnie going to the library to get a book on brainwashing. She’s so desperate for a friend, she asks the librarian if she’d like to go with her to the museum, but is told that’s when the woman visits her grandchildren. Bonnie couldn’t feel lower and goes home feeling down. Things take a turn when she goes down an alley and a young man in the shadows says something undecipherable and the muck within a trashcan comes to life. This fifteen foot tall monster proceeds to chase the little girl until Oberon appears and offers her a way out. Parrott dramatically introduces the title character and quickly establishes that he needs her for something. Oberon’s thoughts are given, providing a neat counter to what he’s saying to others. I laughed out loud at the turn at the bottom of Page 11. The device that’s given to Bonnie on 13 is classical. The most sinister moments in the book are on 14 and 15 where much is revealed and teased. I was glad for their inclusion because they confirmed what I had thought. The surprise on 18 is excellent and the reaction by a character is perfect. The choice made on 19 is expected, but still thrilling, and the last panel has some intriguing dialogue. The final page of the book returns to the first with an expected complication occurring. I’m liking the fantastic elements and the mystery of what Bonnie is capable of. Oberon is a fun love-to-hate character, with Nicholas and Bonnie’s parents having backstories I’d like to see explored. I enjoyed this. Overall grade: A

The art and colors: Milos Slavkovic’s visuals are absolutely perfect for this book. He is a master of the modern world and the brief glimpses into fantastic realms are equally well drawn and colored. The opening of the issue features five panels that spotlight Sir Thornberry XVI guarding The Light. I like the frog-like design of Thronberry and how the he’s shown protecting it in day, night, and even in the winter. Bonnie looks like a middle schooler and is completely sympathetic, looking like a young Janine Melnitz. Her sister looks like the typical apathetic teen, concerned with her phone and wearing dark colors. The Rot Golem looks great: monstrous and yellow. I half expected it to have been shown chasing after Scooby and Shaggy. It’s roar is great stuff. The introduction of Oberon has him extremely powerful and heroic. However, there’s something about him that is sinister. His design is outstanding, with him in regal Renaissance wear. He has branches protruding slightly from this face and head, reminding the reader he’s not human. When he uses his abilities on 7 his eyes go a luminescent yellow-orange that increase his sinister nature. Bonnie’s journey to the Forgotten Forest is classical, reminding me of Alice. The fantasy forest is beautiful. I love that at this location Slavkovic uses different sizes and shapes of branches to separate the panels, which make this location very fanciful. Oberon’s gallant posturing before Bonnie is fantastic — it was theatrical and came off as planned. The creatures shown on 11 look terrific and the penultimate panel on the page had me laugh out loud. Back in San Francisco on 13, I liked the decision to use violets to create the dark night and the oranges for the lighted windows. I really like the violets on 14 and 15 that reinforce the night, but now make them threatening. I was impressed that these colors were used on Nicholas’s shirt, reinforcing that this is the title character’s colors. Things are appropriately dark in this location, but not so dark that elements are fully obscured. I like that Oberon’s thought boxes — as well as his dialogue balloons — are given a faded yellow, aging the character. When something goes magical on 18 the colors go a heavenly blue, connoting that they are not of this world. The look of the largest character on 19 is fantastic. It’s this image that defines the character for the issue and how this individual will be considered for upcoming issues. Simply gorgeous in design and thrilling in its coloring. I love the final panel on this page as well, with it showing some great strength in one character. This book looks great and I’m looking forward to seeing what Slavkovic will get to do next. Overall grade: A

The letters: Charles Pritchett is responsible for the book’s text and he does quite a bit. The text that chronicles Thornberry is perfect in completing the fantasy appearance. The scene settings are in an elongated bold font and they catch the reader’s attention so that one can tell if the location has changed. The dialogue font is in all caps, which is traditional in comic books, but it’s not like one I’ve seen before. The letters are very thin and are so uniform they blend together, making my reading start and stop, as I would read so quickly I would find the words blending together. I did like that certain words in speech are italicized and bolded to make them stand out for emphasis, but reading the dialogue took some getting used to for me. The sounds in this book are outstanding, with the Rot Golem’s utterances looking like I would expect its speech to resemble. Overall grade: B 

The final line: The fairy king needs a girl for a devious plan, but she has to assist him willingly. This is a solid start that introduces the premise, the characters, and teases the fantasy world. I’m interested to learn Bonnie’s past, what Oberon wants in her, and what her parents know. The visuals do a great job in creating the ordinary and the fantastic, with the colors adding to them. This would be suitable reading for all ages with something for everyone. Recommended. Overall grade: A-

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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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