By Jarred A. Luján — The Necromancer’s Map #1 is, as co-writer Andrea Fort called it, a “new beginning and continuation” of Vault’s Songs for the Dead. So, first and foremost, I should tell you that I haven’t read Songs for the Dead, so if you’re not familiar with the title, this is actually the perfect review for you. You can see through me if it’s as accessible as you want it to be!
The Necromancer’s Map #1 follows necromancer Bethany and her recently-resurrected friend Elissar as they search for a Convenant using an illegible map. They find themselves asking for help from the Foggard, a group of magic practitioners who use their power in servitude to others — think wizard butlers. Upon locating the local librarian/historian, Jonas, it is discovered he is battling a mysterious disease that may be more secretive than the Foggard society is letting on.
So, obviously, if you’ve read this far you can see that this is a pretty inventive approach to the world of magic. Magical servants is really a pretty fresh take on the use of magic in general, and the sort of high brow society they seem to emulate is really interesting.
Bethany is a fantastic character. She’s funny, she’s awkward, she feels honest, and that’s something that’s difficult to tackle in writing. The thing I really enjoyed about Bethany as the issue went on, though, is how ethically divided she feels on being a necromancer. She’s open and earnest in the idea that maybe her magic is innately manipulative, and the complexity of the topic is something I really haven’t read in something with a necromancer involved before. Necromancy is generally used as a more sinister form of magic, so Fort and Heron have a challenge in presenting a central protagonist as good when they practice that, especially when she is being re-introduced in a new title. They pull it off well, though, and, as such, she is my favorite part of the book.
Elissar takes a little bit more time to get used to, though. He’s obviously freshly resurrected, so there’s going to be quite a few…complicated feelings there, but his angsty and frustrated attitude is a good compliment to Bethany’s lighter personality. The balance between the two is what is important, and I’m really looking forward to more of that development between them.
The only issue I take with this book is that it is real chatty. Sam Beck and Ellie Wright really did some great work on these pages, but much of the book is covered in dialogue. Now, this is likely a symptom of it being a continuation of a previous series, there’s a lot of catch up for some of us.
The dialogue being so heavy is really the only problematic area for those of you starting on this series. There’s definitely a gap in what we’re missing, like references to an event at Boulder’s Envy, otherwise the issue is plenty accessible to readers new to the series.
Overall: After this first issue, you’ll likely want to go ahead and read the previous series because between Bethany and the Foggards and the complex questions brought on early, you’ll not want to miss the world this creative team has built. 8.5/10
The Necromancer’s Map #1
Writers: Andrea Fort and Michael Christopher Heron
Artist: Sam Beck
Colorist: Ellie Wright
Letterer: Andworld Design
Publisher: Vault Comics
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Jarred A. Luján makes comics, studies existential philosophy, and listens to hip-hop too loudly. For bad jokes and dog pictures, you can follow him on Twitter.