21st Sep2015

‘Schismatic #1′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Andrew Adams | Art by Rachael Briner | Published by Schismatic Comics

schismatic-1

Once upon a time, if you wanted to get your own comic book published you would have to jump through a few hoops, work on a few Big Two (Marvel and DC) books and build up enough name recognition to be given a shot at your own material. Not a great path for many budding comic creators to take, and I am sure many worthy stories were lost because of it. Now, however, we live in the world of crowd funding,  where anyone with a good idea and a good pitch can raise money to put it out there. For anyone that appreciates diversity and a range of voices and genres, this is a good thing.

Schismatic, by Andrew Adams and Rachael Briner is one book that has reached us via that route. This is the first issue of a planned 6 issue mini-series, and sets the groundwork and establishes the world that the characters inhabit. The two main characters , Amalia and Idris, inhabit a society dominated by the very nasty Deep Order of Illuminate Souls, a group not averse to a public beheading, and then eating said head. This is a world where, after a series of disasters nearly wiped out mankind, an other worldly entity, Agoroth  (a nod to the Dark Ones beloved of Lovecraft) arose and his followers, the Dark Order, instituted a very violent harsh regime on those left, ruling through fear and intimidation.

What makes Amalia and Idris especially noteworthy is that they are pacifists, they try and navigate a non violent path through a very violent world. They adhere to this code even when they have the opportunity to poison the Grave Arbiter, an especially nasty member of the Order. Unfortunately for them, their children (who have something special about them as they have brightly coloured, mismatched eyes) are taken from them and Amalia and Idris are sent to a prison of sorts, where they languish for 10 years. Finally, it hits home that if they ever want to see their children again, they need to fight, fight to escape and then fight to regain their children. This they do, killing the guards and making their way to the lower levels, where if you can survive the horrors down there, you may escape.

This is a well defined world we see here, Adams does a great job in a few pages setting the scene and Briner does a great job visualising it. Although at heart an old fashioned quest story, Adams does throw in some interesting political and religious aspects, as well as the obvious moral dilemma of killing or nor killing your enemy. I also like the fact that although the story hints at the wider scope of what’s playing out, the focus is very much on the family, how this affects them directly and indirectly. It’s not perfect of course. The adherence to such a pacifist ideology in such a cruel world seemed a little bit of a stretch, and the characters giving up a lifetime of pacifism to then suddenly slaughter the guards also didn’t ring particularly true. I know that ten years had passed, but Adams needed to show us more desperation, more reasons why they decided to give up their beliefs.

The art, by Rachael Briner, helped establish the characters and environment very well. Her layouts and page design helped keep the story moving nicely, and the art is deceptively detailed. My only slight concern is that, as it seems the story may get darker and nastier, can her art convey that nastiness? Only time will tell.

Though not an essential book, at least not yet, Schismatic #1 is nonetheless an interesting beginning, a nice introduction to character and story. The creators are seeking funding to continue the book through its 6 issue run, and I for one would love to see how the story plays out down the road.

*** 3/5

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