Magic is all but extinct. When the last ailing wizard casts a final desperate spell to summon the descendants of ancient bloodlines to a school for magic now in disrepair...those chosen ones find a horror of the likes they’ve never experienced. They will have to confront the deepest parts of themselves, their tragic pasts and defeat each other in order to survive the ordeal.
Mad Cave Studios has been a home for David Hazan since the release of his fantasy series Nottingham, which debuted in 2021 to rave reviews. Monomyth is his next series, which sees himself and artist Cecilia Lo Valvo teaming up to tell a story about ancient legacy, propelling the people of today into fantasies of old, testing their limits as the next generation of magical warriors. While it may be a little soon to rave, based on this first issue, the series is beyond promising.
What I found most striking about this debut is how it balances heavy visual detail and breakneck plotting out to ensure the narrative experience never feels rushed or under-baked. The story sees the assembly of almost seven different characters and a balancing of tonal aesthetics not made for creatives faint of heart, however the team handles it beautifully.
Hazan manages to give each character more than one moment to stand out against the rest, the large cast involved in a story of this scope never ballooning into forgetability. Valvo’s pencils math this energy. Every character has an instantly identifiable visual style and design to them that keeps each page with them all together from becoming a muddled mess. There’s a character here for everybody, and while Hazan manages them all expertly, at the end of the day the issue is still very crowded for its page space.
The plot is moved through at a snappy face, however in that speed there is still enough clarity, hooks, and rich storytelling to form a well-crafted book. The seven are set up to march their way through an abandoned school for magic whilst being challenged as though they were Saw victims. The breadth of characterization and its personality driven story mixes with this tense premise for all the better. The plot itself may be relatively generic, it is elevated by the teams expertise.
Hazan & Valvo do a great job of blending together the aesthetics of the modern day with a fantasy aesthetic that lies somewhere between The Witcher & Dark Souls. From a writing perspective, it’s both entertaining and informative to see characters who’ve struggled with the horrors of modern day humanity face down something a little more fantastical. There’s a level of wonder and humor that comes from this that gives this issue such a rich, beating heart. Homunculus is a character that epitomizes this dichotomy, but also serves to showcase how much Valvo is doing at a visual level.
There’s a near unnecessary amount of background detail in this book, but it elevates so much of the general plotting that I can’t help but respect the team for dedicating themselves to the amount of visual effort being poured into every panel of this book. There’s a level of depth and texture to the art that demands your complete attention and informs your understanding of the story and characters in a way dialogue could never achieve.
The art’s fluidity is almost just short of animation. Valvo is, as proven evident by this issue, a tour de force of sequential storytelling. Marissa Louise’s colors serve to highlight this motion and atmosphere in a way that blends near-perfectly with Valvo’s penciling style. Lucas Gatton’s lettering stays out of the arts way with very thoughtful placement and some occasional visual flair.
Monomyth #1 has the craft, premise, and characters behind it to take off sprinting as one of this year's most well-made fantasy comics. The team exercises so much skillful and mechanical artistry alongside a very creative blending of worlds that demands nothing but praise. There's a true symbiosis between writer and artist at hand here that happens rarely, and I cannot recommend this book more.
ICYMI – Monomyth #1: A Gathering Ritual
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 10/1010/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
User Review( votes)