Last year I began reading a series of books published by Stranger Comics and set in the world of Asunda. My first review in this world was of a book called the Untamed where a man traveled to a town to reap mighty vengeance upon its people. Here we met a young woman named Niobe who would prove to be very important to the world of Asunda and would get her very own comic written by Amandla Sternberg and Sebastian A Jones , with wonderful illustrations by Ashley Woods.
The story starts in the middle of things, with our eponymous character being chased through a beautifully lush landscape. Her pursuers, those assigned by her father to bring her back to him, guide her to a small, glowing insect. After leaping from a waterfall, she ends up in a cavern with several men all speaking to her at once and a little voice humming in her head constantly.
We learn that the place she has arrived is a refuge for men of various tribes and that she isn’t exactly welcomed there except by the locale’s leader Bragnar Steelnose who appears to be a dwarf. She meets Pryin and Temshen two full blood elves of color, who wish nothing more than for her to leave on account of her only being half elf and a woman. This leads to brief confrontation and the ending of two lives.
I typically don’t start with the art, but my goodness was this beautiful to look at. Woods did a great job turning the usually very dark and dreary world of Asunda into a vibrant world. The colors used perfectly characterize every locale, from verdant forests, to hollow caverns. Everything about the character designs were breathtaking and place this book in a league of its own off the rip.
The writing for the story flowed smoothly and there was no question of who Niobe was personality-wise and she was never at the mercy of her circumstances, like many female characters written today. That isn’t to say she’s always ahead of the curve, but she has a realistic balance of character traits, which allow her to be a stranger in a new land and still keep her wits and instincts about her.
This book and others in the Stranger family represent a living breathing world in the truest sense of the word, and while this can be a good thing, it much like Marvel’s current event Secret wars there are books that need to be read prior to this one. This can be a turn-off for some fans who only want to read a particular story, but in a world with so much rich history, it will pay to check out some of the other titles in their stable.
You can pick up Niobe: She is Life in your local comic shop or At Stranger Comics.com