Writer: Dane Rahlmeyer
Artist: Patricia Pamula
WHAT IS IT?
An action-packed science fantasy story where a girl with shapeshifting powers must evade capture.
Think The Martian meets Animorphs.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Somewhere between the multiverses, there exists a race of people called multimorphs who can change shape into any living thing. Unfortunately, they are also highly valued, causing bands of mercenaries to capture them for profit. Seeking to escape a horrible fate, Runa attempts to stow away on a ship but is caught and dumped in the Murder Jungle on Planet Jard. The planet is home to numerous hungry creatures and harsh terrains, but Runa can manage it, right? Little does she know her day is about to get much worse.
Runa is tracked down by the Seven Swords, a mounted brigade of animalistic mercenaries. Using the little control she has of her morphing, Runa flies off stumbling from one danger to the next. If the Seven Swords don’t get her, then one of this planet’s deadly jungle creatures surely will. All seems hopeless until she meets Pio who claims to also be seeking a way off this planet. Has Runa found her salvation or is Pio just another danger of the jungle?
Rahlmeyer’s story expertly places the reader in the middle of the action and drops little nuggets of context along the way. The reader learns things as needed in ways that feel natural.
Pamula’s character designs are distinct and instantly establish the personality of each character. Her attention to detail in this scope adds so much to the story.
Whyler’s inks show an adept eye for line weight. Despite lively backgrounds, the emphasis of each panel is never lost due to their thick outlines.
The colors were vibrant and varied making everything feel fantastical and exciting while also maintaining excellent contrast and focus.
Schmitz’s balloon placement smoothly follows the flow of the art and keeps the reader’s eyes on the most important parts of each panel.
There’s a ton of variety in camera angles and perspectives in the art which keeps everything dynamic and quickly shows the intensity of the action-packed scenes.
The lettering and dialogue work in tandem to time the jokes and Runa’s sarcastic, smarmy remarks well.
The sound effects lettering is marvelously colorful and most of the time integrates with the action in creative ways displaying the motion of the scene as well as the sound.
In the back of the book are a ton of early sketches and author notes for a little behind-the-scenes action into the making of Runa.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
There is a lot of dialogue throughout the story that is a drag to read. Having more silent moments and relying a bit more on the art to convey the story would have helped move things along at a better pace.
There are no splash pages during the story’s dramatic spots and only one large spread at the beginning of the book. Utilizing one or two of these could have added more visual variety and impact at the story’s biggest moments.
The inking is fairly minimal and relies more on coloring for lighting and texture. A bit of hatching or extra texture could have made the vibrant world and creatures pop even more.
Some of the layouts had lots of panels, which made these scenes feel very tight and dragged the pace a bit. A bit more variety with more open designs could have helped this issue.
A few panels have a lot of sound effects lettering that feel unnecessary and are a bit distracting. It happens mostly with quieter sounds that didn't necessarily need to be lettered and thus make these panels a bit busy.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This book is plain fun and sucks the reader in through its fast-paced story and colorful world. Runa is a delightful character, sarcastic and headstrong, but also very unsure of herself. Despite having these wonderful powers, she doesn’t know how to use them very well, and this is her biggest source of low self-esteem. Her personality and internal conflict feel like they could fit easily into a teenage coming-of-age story, but then the sci-fi elements crank those problems up to an eleven. This makes her feel incredibly relatable while still being a part of an escapist fantasy.
The colorful art with fun background details, like cute animals and lush plant life, firmly grounds one into the world and rewards the attentive reader. I felt like an explorer while gazing at Runa’s pages discovering little details that expanded the dangers and the beauty of Planet Jard. While there are terrifying monsters in the Murder Jungle, there are also hot air balloons made of jellyfish, flying monkeys, and glowing plants. The reader gets the full gauntlet of emotions that can arise from being lost in a strange, dangerous, but beautiful landscape.
Perfect for science fiction and fantasy lovers of all ages, Runa is a wonderful read.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Wynd by James Tynion IV & Michael Dialynas
Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis & Gus Allen
Girl Haven by Lilah Sturges
If you like the art:
I Hate Fairyland by Skottie Young & Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Agents of S.L.A.M by Dave Scheidt & Scoot Mcmahon
The Last Session by Jasmine Wells & DozerDraws
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Dane Rahlmeyer (@DaneRahlmeyer) – Writer
A writer of novels, screenplays, and video games, Runa is Rahlmeyer’s first foray into writing comics.
Rahlmeyer hails from Germany.
Patricia Pamula (@Patricia_Pamula) – Artist/Colorist
Pamula is a freelance illustrator who worked as a colorist on the German children’s book series Die Wächter von Tal.
Runa is her debut as a comics penciler and colorist.
Pamula hails from Germany.
Noah Whyler (@NoahWhyler) – Inks/Lettering
In addition to inking, Whyler is an artist specializing in pinups.
Some of Whyler’s favorite artists are Ashley Wood, Skottie Young, and Humberto Ramos.
Whyler hails from Germany.
Marc Schmitz (@realMarcSchmitz) – Letterer
Regularly working in the indie and professional space, Schmitz has lettered books for Marvel, DC, and Scout Comics.
Schmitz hails from Germany.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Runa characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright of Dane Rahlmeyer & Patricia Pamula or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.