By d. emerson eddy — For awhile now, AfterShock Comics has been amassing a very solid library of vastly-diverse high-quality genre comics including horror, fantasy, adventure, thriller, science fiction, and more. The strength of the publisher's catalogue is incredible, and it just keeps growing. Contributing to that catalogue in a number of ways has been Cullen Bunn, who with his collaborators, has given us Unholy Grail, Brothers Dracul, and Dark Ark. Each kind of recontextualizing history and folklore into stories somewhat at the periphery of horror, and in the first two a gritty adventure sensibility similar to something like Conan. Knights Temporal #1 shares some of that sensibility, but feels wholly original.
In this first issue we're introduced to August and Jane, two time-tossed people on a quest to stop the sorcerer Gaspard. We're not entirely sure why, other than a nebulous “he's a bad guy”, and Jane is portrayed as a somewhat strange, untrustworthy individual, and nothing seems to be as it seems, but it's a fascinating mystery.
The story's appeal is due in no small part to Fran Galán. The artwork is gorgeous. His style shares an angular, scratchy, and shadowed approach with artists like Dan Panosian, Shawn Crystal, and Sean Gordon Murphy. The opening scene alone, with August and his fellow soldiers in the past riding horses through the darkness of a forest chasing after Gaspard, should be enough to hook you. There's incredible action, danger, and beauty conveyed in just the first three pages that will carry you higher as more layers of the story are unveiled. Galán also colors his own work, shifting color schemes to fit the different time periods and presenting a very unique prismatic watercolor effect for time travel.
Dave Sharpe gives us some unique effects in his lettering, particularly when it comes to Jane's dialogue. Some of the words are enlarged and given a purple color. Part of it seems to be for emphasis, but it's peculiar just to her. It makes you wonder if there's supposed to be a hint that she's somehow something different than everyone else. It's neat and enhances the character without being distracting.
And that's the other thing that pulls you into the story, the characters. Though shrouded in mystery still, Bunn, Galán, and Sharpe do an impressive job building August and Jane, as well as a poor pawn of Gaspard's whose presence adds more to the mystery. Bunn's dialogue giving you bits of insight into who these people are, rather than guiding you by the hand through exposition.
Overall, Knights Temporal #1 is an impressive debut of this new time-travelling fantasy story. Bunn, Galán, and Sharpe deliver an intriguing mystery wrapped in a gorgeous adventure package.
Knights Temporal #1
Writers: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Fran Galán
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
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d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.