In Review: Realm Knights: 2015 Giant-Size

The change in artists keeps this from earning a high grade.

The covers: Four different covers to find on your quest to be a completist. The A cover is an action piece by Sean Chen and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. It shows pirate Meredith taking a swing at Sela, who tries to counter the criminal with a cutlass. Meredith looks really good in this drawing, as does the background, but Sela is drawn at a really odd angle. The coloring is good, with blues and greens making this seem piratey. Pasquale Qualano and Ylenia Di Napoli chose to go the Wendy route for their B cover. Sela is walking the plank from a ship that seems to be sailing in the clouds. Behind her is the Pirate King using his sword to convince to continue along her deadly path. Nice layout and excellent coloring on the setting, but I would have liked to have seen the image pulled in tighter to the characters. The C cover is the one that I purchased and shows Sela looking ready for action wearing a Realm Knights uniform. She’s holding a monstrous rifle while standing against a white background, save an orange sun. Outstanding job by Mike Krome and Ula Mos on this. The final cover, the D, is by Larry Watts and Hedwin Zaldivar and it features Bolder decked out in his Realm Knights armor, flanked by two of his forces. He looks ready to kick some butt and I like the two behind him. Overall grades: A B, B B, C A, and D A- 

The story: This story picks up just after the events of the Realm Knights: Annual 2015 that came out last month. Joe Brusha, Ralph Tedesco, and Jeff Massey outlined this story, with Massey writing the piece. Sela has brought the female of the Gemini Twins to Arcane Acre, where the pair bring the reader up to speed with what’s transpired previously, before moving to Bolder training his unit of Realm Knights. Ciampo, Finn, Rotter, Rodriguez, and Varney are practicing, and not doing so well, however Bolder thinks they have promise. And they’re going to need to, because unbeknownst to our heroes, just over a hill, the ghostly Pirate King, Meredith, and some of their dead pirate crew are watching them. With this group of villains is a surprising addition who could be much more than they can handle. There’s a dinner sequence where relationships among the characters are furthered, with Varney the vampire getting the most time, but soon it’s off to bed and that’s when things really pick up. This issue serves to introduce the Earth unit of the Realm Knights and it does a solid job. The best part of the story was how each character reacts to someone entering their room with hostile intentions — a few made me chuckle. Naturally, there’s a big blow out fight between the villains and heroes, with Sela getting herself involved. It’s a good fight, but I did get a little tired of the Pirate King barking out dialogue like a deadite talking to Ash Williams. Something happens to a character on Page 34, but I couldn’t tell you who that character is. He or she is not named, nor does the art help with identifying this individual. Because of this, I felt no emotion as to what happened to this character. This could have been resolved with one line of dialogue, but I’m left hanging. Aside from this confusion, this was a fun read. Overall grade: A-

The art: Marc Rosete and Ferran Sellares provide the visuals for this book and it’s apparent when the switch in artists occurs: the first twenty-two pages are one artist, whom I’m assuming is Rosete since his name is listed first in the credits, with 23 – 36 another artist, Sellares for the same reasoning. The first twenty-two pages of the book look much better than the final thirteen. Rosete has got a thin line to his work, and that’s the way I like my visuals. He uses a nice zoom technique on Pages 2 and 3 to introduce Sela and Karen, while including their surroundings. There are also three flashback panels that show what’s happened in their past and they look good. Page 4 has the battle scene among the troops and it’s got quite a bit of action, but the top is dead space. As with one of the covers, the image should have been pulled in tighter to the characters. The practice battle that happens is tight, though it’s difficult to determine who’s who with their helmets on; there should have been some slight personalization of uniforms to make identification easier for the reader. When they do remove their helms, Rosete gives each a great sense of personality, with their faces complimenting the text (and there’s a whole lot of text) perfectly. The introduction of the villains is also smooth, with their new ally looking particularly menacing. The scenes in each character’s bedroom are the best in the book. They all begin the same way but end differently, with the visuals being used more than the text to show what’s happening. When Sellares takes over the book the characters are not as highly detailed and the line work becomes very thick. On the double-paged spread when Sela battles the two villains there is a lack in details, such as in the clothes on the character in the foreground, and the backgrounds have disappeared. The characters have also become a little cartoony looking, especially Meredith. I wouldn’t have minded had this been the style through the entire issue, but it’s jarring when looking at this issue as a whole. The incident on 34 lost any meaning for me because I don’t know who that was, and this is the fault of the artist. This book has a mixed looked, and that affects the grade. Overall grade: C 

The colors: Pinks and purples dominate this book, created by Valentina Cuomo, and this gives the book a strong fantasy feel, which is exactly what it should be doing. Pages 2 and 3 have some smooth shading on the characters as they walk through Arcane Acre, with the flashback sequences being offset by a light blue border. With the Realm Knights’ armor being so futuristic, there are ample opportunities for Cuomo to make them shine and she does so beautifully each time they appear. Cuomo also has the villains’ colors down as well, with the ghastly Pirate King looking sensational in otherworldly green. When the fighting breaks out in the final quarter of the book, Cuomo rightly colors the backgrounds a harsh red, intensifying the action. Two characters also have their dialogue balloons colored, separating them further from the “normal” characters of this book. Cuomo is knocking this issue out of the park. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Another outstanding contributor to this issue is Ghost Glyph Studios who provides the letters. They have created scene settings, dialogue, character identification, a whistle, sounds, profanity, dwarf speak, a whisper, yells, laughter, and the single word that closes the issue. This is a wide variety of fonts and all work very well. There are several pages and panels where an unbelievable amount of text must fit and GGS does so without trampling over the art or shrinking the font for that moment to have it all fit. This is the mark of an outstanding group of artists and they are to be congratulated. Overall grade: A+

The final line: The change in artists keeps this from earning a high grade. A good story with inconsistent visuals. I wanted to love this, but only liked it. However, my interest is still high to see where Zenescope has the Realm Knights go next. Overall grade: B+

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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