Hey you! Are you ready for an adventure? Do you dream of slaying dragons and finding a hoard of gold? Do you wish to exchange secrets with elves and dwarves while wandering the ever growing landscape of the world? Well you’re out of luck because that stuff doesn’t exist, but you know what does exist? Fantasy comics, and boy oh boy, do I got a great one for you! Scales and Scoundrels, the newest wandering adventurer title on the market, has all those things and more! Pub fights? Check! Apple thievery? Check! A handsome prince in need of rescuing?! You bet your +2 agility boots that’s a check! A true all-ages read, Scales and Scoundrels takes everything that makes the fantasy genre fun and gives it a cartoon-inspired pop that readers from kids to adults will absolutely get lost in. Toss in a strong lead and a deadly secret, and you got yourself a hit.
One of the fun things about the book is how it takes common tropes and flips them, starting with our tough-talking, gold-hoarding lead, Luvander. The comic opens up with her playing cards (or more precisely, an alternate version of Magic the Gathering) in a tavern with several burly men, when they immediately accuse her of cheating. Despite getting a massive beating, she gets back up and, with a touch of magic, burns the tavern to the ground. Suddenly, she’s on the run from the guards who are quick to accuse her of being an Urden, a half-dragon creature. Deciding that the town is simply not her style, she marches on into the wild unknown only to once again run into trouble; ROYAL trouble. But it’s not until she hears about a place of endless riches that things get really interesting!
This comic is absolutely awesome! Everything about it, from the characters to the world to the art, is exhilarating and fresh, like the first time you played Zelda or read The Hobbit. The main character is a nimble adventurer that can squirrel out of any situation and plays by her own rules; a classic outcast who takes no shit, whilst living in a world that is incredibly expansive, even from the smallest rooftops. She’s everything every kid dreams of being: the lead in their very own adventure. It may not be overly original or full of twists, but it knows itself and it knows its genre, which, every once in a while, is exactly what the comic doctor ordered. Sometimes you want a high adventure story about treasure and dragons without wondering when the ‘big twist’ or the ‘big reveal’ is coming (though there is definitely a twist coming if her fire-breathing has anything to say about it). It goes back to the roots of fantasy, where magic and mayhem is one blink away and all you need in life is meat on a stick and a hoard of gold. It’s a wonderful homage.
The art by GALAAD (which is a very odd pen name) is really what brings the whole comic together. He mixes cartoon aesthetic with big production colors and makes a work that not only jumps off the page but invites the reader to create their own narrative as Luvander wanders the landscape. He puts in a wonderful splash page of the village at sunrise in which Luvander surveys her surroundings, and allows the reader to fully grasp how beautiful and tempting her world is. He easily transitions in the next scene to a crowded market stall, like the beginning of a new chapter, and subdues the colors as Luvander starts her adventure. It’s so easy on the eyes that you almost don’t realize how involved you get until you reach the last page. Personally, I can’t wait until she starts exploring new areas and he starts doing larger scale pieces in a display of her growing knowledge.
Whether you’re a long time fantasy fan or just looking for your next hit of something fun, I highly suggest Scales and Scoundrels. On shelves now!