Bubbly and headstrong Shayde Whisper has been inexplicably exiled from her magical guild and relocated, left only with vague memories and romanticized hope. But when she hears a sinister voice in her head that awakens a power beyond her comprehension, she'll traverse her past and present to unravel her prestigious place within the mystical land of Athea!
Recently I’ve been getting into the world of fantasy games such as Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, thanks to shows like Stranger Things and The Legend of Vox Machina. So when I learned a new fantasy-based series from artist Emma Kubert was coming out, I immediately asked Comic Watch to review it.
The issue follows a young woman named Shayde Whisper, who travels to the Athean town of Lightspring Canyon to start her apprenticeship as a blacksmith. In her early days there, it is clear to her mentor and the townspeople that she has an uncanny gift for the trade. But there’s also a mystery about her as we find that she may be connected to another person, Paladin Stoneheart, who has strong magical capabilities and was also exiled due to a terrible crime she committed. Things also become more dangerous and ominous for Shayde and the town of Lightspring Canyon when she gets attacked by a Nightcat, and a Mythic arrives looking for her.
Artist Emma Kubert is the creator behind this series. She’s doing it all: writer, artist, letterer, everything. I absolutely enjoyed her writing here, as the story enamors me. The opening pages set up the mysterious plot behind the series, where Paladin Stoneheart is exiled from the North Estron Kingdom of Athea. This lets us know that something significant has happened but doesn’t reveal everything yet, as good storytelling goes. As the story progresses, you can’t help but love the main protagonist, Shayde Whisper, who is an optimistic, bubbly young woman that, for reasons unbeknownst to us, decides to become a blacksmith. She has a great talent for it impressing everyone around her with her skills and strength. I love stories that feature badass women, and Shayde is precisely that in more ways than one! Kubert does an excellent job of framing the story and revealing more to the reader about the characters and the world with each new page of the issue.
I’ve always been a fan of Kubert’s art. I’ve enjoyed seeing the artwork she posted on her social media and the covers she has done as well. With this issue, I must admit it took me a while to get used to the artwork here. There are pages and panels where the background or details have an unfinished look to them, where the parties have more of a scribbling look rather than a crisp and clear appearance, and part of me kept thinking that maybe this was an unfinished issue I was reading. However, by the time I got to the end of the issue, I felt the artwork worked well with this style and didn’t detract me from the story. Art is always subjective, and there are several styles with many rationales and purposes so that it won’t appeal to everyone. But because this is a fantasy-based comic series, I think this style leaned into that world where it allows the reader to fill in the visual details for themselves, which I enjoy.
That said, I loved how the opening, ominous pages had minimal color to give the impression that this was a dream or an event that happened at a different time, sparingly using colors for more significant effect until we get into the world of Shayde Whisper. The coloring was lovely as I felt like the color palette had a wide range of colors that made the world colorful and beautiful without being trapped into a particular aesthetic we see sometimes. The lettering here is also attractive because care went into deciding the font style for when, such as highlighting the establishing area or giving details about the world. I loved how Kubert puts in a commentary box to fill the reader in on a piece of the world, such as giving us more information about what a Mythic is and a short history about them in the land of Athea. Whether you’re familiar with fantasy world terms or not, any reader can follow along with what’s going on in the story without getting overwhelmed with the information.
Although the art took me until the end of the issue to get used to and appreciate, this has quickly become one of my favorite fantasy-based comic stories. Whether you're a long-time fan of the genre or looking for something new to read, you'll find yourself immersed in the world of Athea, rooting for Shayde Whisper and following her journey.
Stoneheart #1: The Badassery of Shayde Whisper
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
- Art - 7.5/107.5/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10