Written by Andrew Adams | Art by Rachael Briner | Published by Schismatic Comics
Issue 1 of this new series was a decent introduction to the post-apocalyptic world ruled by Agoroth, an otherworldly ancient god who got his foot in the door when a series of disasters nearly wiped out mankind. His followers, the Deep Order of Illuminate Souls, now control society in a very nasty, brutal way. Against this backdrop we followed the plight of Idris and Amalia, two pacifists who had their children taken away and had to serve 10 years hard labour and imprisonment. This is a nasty world, and one our protagonists soon learn is not one suited to ideals of pacifism, no matter how noble. Although I enjoyed that first issue, it felt a little routine to me, but then again first issues often do feel a little underwhelming as we need the set-up and introductions out the way before we can settle down properly.
The end of last issue introduced a glimmer of hope for Idris and Amalia to both escape and find their children, but to do so they had to navigate the Killing Knot, a long abandoned and feared mining tunnel now filled with strange creatures and traps. The set-up to this place that no-one dares go to unfortunately leaves it an underwhelming disappointment when Idris and Amalia are out in the first 10 pages, as we are treated to a kind of montage of their efforts to get out. Yes it’s frenetic and sort of action-packed, but essentially one panel indications of what they faced. Colour me underwhelmed. On the positive storytelling front, I enjoyed the way we seamlessly move from the escape from the Killing Knot, to a brief recap of the disasters that befell this world, and to the quest now to locate their grown up children, Eko and Darma. Nicely done.
We drift firmly into fantasy territory now as Idris finds himself seeking an adventuring talking otter in Holdfast, while Amalia seeks help in the women only place named Refuge. Two very different places peopled by very different inhabitants, and two different responses to their pleas for help. Idris is taken back by the speed of the offer of assistance from talking otter Riolobo, though Riolobo turns out to be a drunken braggart who volunteers with no idea what it is for. Amalia finds a very well organised, strong group of female warriors, but warriors reluctant to fight a battle they believe unwinnable against the Deep Order. After some discussion, a small group reluctantly agree to come with Amalia. The quest is on.
Adams and Briner clearly wanted the emphasis with this issue to be a lighter overall tone than the first, and probably the following issues. We get some light humour, some ‘down’ time, and an enlarged cast. The fantasy element is put centre stage, with talking otters and female elven forest warriors. The art throughout is laid out nicely and adds a nice depth to this world, and Briner is adept at drawing humans and elves heck, even upright otters with pierced noses. The colouring and tone round out a nice book to look at.
Schismatic #2 is a fun read, as was the first issue, but I am still finding it not engaging me as much as I would like it to. For every unique element to this world, there is the addition of the familiar, and it reads like many a fantasy story told before. For lovers of the fantasy genre there is much to like, but this is not a title that at present will tempt many readers from outside that genre.
That being said, if on the fence give it a shot, as creators like Andrew Adams and Rachel Briner should be applauded for putting their vision out there through self-funding. Diversity in the comics industry is never a bad thing.