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The Wood Boy #1
posted May 20, 2005
Sean J. Jordan, Mat Broome
Image Comics, 28 pages, $2.95, April 2005
I think I understand the impulse behind bringing fantasy work into mainstream comics. Superhero comics are really a specialized subset of fantasy, at least the way they're told these days, and fantasy offers the same action-adventure backbone and backdrop of dynamic objects many artists find enjoyable to draw. Fantasy comics also bring with them a set of shared expectations, a visual and narrative shorthand which audiences can plug into and writers can subvert. With a surplus of fantasy novelists, it seem perfectly reasonable that many of them wouldn't mind the additional avenue for artistic expression, the possible second revenue stream, or even a chance to package their work for pass-along to an only intermittently interested Hollywood. This story comes from Raymond E. Feist.
The first issue of Wood Boy
provides us with an interesting premise, I suppose: life under wartime in a fantasy setting, as told by a character who escapes into friendly territory. The execution is purely dullsville, though, stridently modern-comic generic. I often had a hard time parsing basic information like who is whom, if some people are alive or dead, and which side a character depicted belongs to. In terms of story, so little general information is given out that 1) it feels like conscious cheating to use our ignorance to keep us in suspense, and 2) the setting comes across as dull and flat, out of Fantasy 101. There's a bit of mystery to the occupying forces as they're described, but not one the reader will likely want to figure out either because the writer fails to capture the reader's attention and sympathy through a sharp eye for detail by the situation's details or cause the reader care about the characters involved.