DAMSEL FROM D.I.S.T.R.E.S.S, ISSUE #1
Writer: Andrew Clemson
Illustrator: Mauricio Mora
Lettering: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Self Published (Kickstarter)
WHAT IS IT?
The first issue in a lighthearted fantasy series led by the charismatic rogue Bec, an agent for the fantasy equivalent of the CIA known as D.I.S.T.R.E.S.S.
It's like if Charlie’s Angels landed in Lord of the Rings.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
After losing her father at a young age, Bec has followed in his footsteps by becoming a successful agent for D.I.S.T.R.E.S.S. (no, it never reveals the acronym). After her latest operation dealing with a blackmailing wizard puts her in the company of a wannabe knight, the pair decide to travel to the Dwarven Kingdom to investigate an abducted princess.
But someone sinister seems to be pulling strings behind the scenes and Bec rapidly finds herself falling into a complex web of manipulation. Will she be able to complete her latest mission, or will she be drawn into something more dangerous?
Clemson’s plot hits all the beats more akin to a spy thriller plot than fantasy, but therein lies the unique spin.
There’s only a little character development in this first issue, but that isn’t a concern when the characters are well-rounded and well-written in the first place.
The lighthearted tone means the entire issue is a breeze to read, especially in regards to dialogue which flows exceedingly well, with Bec in particular bringing a colloquial feel not often used in fantasy.
Mora’s style finds a nice balance of open space and detail to ensure the eye moves effortlessly across the page.
Panel construction does nothing new, but some panels are fantastic at adding depth, my favourite being the “One very long journey later” panel.
With five being the average number of panels per page, it leaves plenty of room for speech bubbles so even the more densely worded pages never feel cluttered.
Also taking up the mantle of colourist, Mora is steady if a little uninspired.
I’m a big fan of Otsmane-Elhaou and once again he brings a level of professionalism that means the lettering is seamlessly integrated into the art.
The diversity of speech bubbles, fonts, and shapes is subtle, meaning you get a greater range of dialogue tone as you read without realizing.
There is a map at the back of the issue, which always gives fantasy stories a little bit more weight when it comes to world-building.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Fantasy is usually judged in part on how the story deals with world-building, and I wanted a little more of that. The map was a great addition, but shouldn’t be a replacement.
The background colours stick to a very limited colour spectrum, which means different scenes can somewhat blend together.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Fans of fantasy and spy stories can find common ground here with James Bond-esque gadgets existing alongside talking frogs and wizards. This unique collision of worlds is held together by the charismatic protagonist who plays on the common tropes from which the comic derives its name.
The art is bright and charming with just enough of a hard edge to show there is a serious narrative going on, and between the fun action, sharp dialogue and intriguing questions raised by the narrative, The Damsel from D.I.S.T.R.E.S.S. promises much for the upcoming issues.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
The Kickstarter is live here!
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