It has been fifteen years since magic found its way back into the world and, in doing so, destroyed it. Orcs, trolls, dragons and all manner of beast mankind did not have names for stepped out of the mists of legend and into reality, laying waste to civilization.
Now, what remains of humanity struggles for survival in a world they no longer control. While many have descended into barbarism and built small fiefdoms based on strength of arms and banditry, some people still work to maintain some semblance of the old ways.
Will Nolan is such a person. A soldier before the end of the world, Will has turned his gifts for scouting and survival into a lucrative career as a problem solver. Need someone to rescue your kid from the slavers or escort you to the next big city? Will is your man.
Unbeknownst to Will, his latest assignment will prove to be more than a simple guide gig. The people who have hired Will seek a means of saving their world from the evils that threaten it and Will Nolan may find himself thrust into the most unlikely of roles – hero.
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Modify your Fallout 4 game with monsters from Skyrim, and you might have something very much like the world of The Realm. Of course the idea of a magically-facilitated apocalypse is hardly original. S.M. Stirling explored similar ideas in his Emberverse series. And who could forget the movie Reign of Fire, in which the return of dragons heralds the end of humanity’s dominance of The Earth?
Thankfully, The Realm #1 suggests a far bigger world than is apparent at a casual glance. Writer Seth M. Peck does a masterful job of defining and expanding the setting by showing it to us rather than having the characters tell each other things about the world around them that they logically should already know. Indeed, the dialogue is smooth and natural, with even the so-called kings of the wasteland sounding like real people rather than characters in a story.
What truly makes The Realm stand out among other dystopian fantasy stories, however, is its protagonist. Will Nolan is a man of war and a pragmatist, but he hasn’t allowed Armageddon to dull his sense of what is right. There is something about Will that grabs the reader’s attention immediately, making him into a likeable and sympathetic figure.
The artwork by Jeremy Haun matches Seth M. Peck’s script in complexity and fluidity. There is a remarkable paradox at play in Haun’s work, which portrays the grittiness of the end of the world with a unique sense of clarity. The line work is clean, yet subtly suggests the decay and dinginess of the setting. The color art by Nick Filardi helps to complete the illusion.
The Realm #1 might not be the most unique idea for a fantasy or post-apocalyptic comic ever but it is certainly one of the most well-executed books to grace the genre. Seth M. Peck, Jeremy Haun and Nick Fildari have created something truly magical and a wise reader will hire on with Will Nolan to take this journey now.
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.