Alasdair Stuart writes for Bleeding Cool
Amelia Cole and the Unknown World was one of the launch titles for Monkeybrain Comics. The story of a female magician, living between two worlds and trapped on a third, it's written by Adam P Knave and DJ Kirkbride with Nick Brokenshire on art and Rachel Deering lettering. It's one of my favorite books and here are seven reasons why.
1. 2 is the new 1
This is, if anything, a better jumping on point than issue 1. Amelia's problem is established, we're introduced to the world she's trapped in and we meet the supporting cast, starting with Lemmy. Lemmy, Amelia's golem, is a welcome addition to the cast and a neat embodiment of character and plot. He's the strong, silent type, literally but he's also far too big for the amount of power put into him. This world isn't right and Lemmy is the first real hint of that. Plus, any golem called Lemmy is right up there in the adorable stakes.
There are magic users in this word, they're just very, very regulated. And in this case, more than a little Batman-y. I love how perspective is used here, giving us a real sense of the drop. Nick Brokenshire's art has a very kinetic quality to it and this is the issue where that really starts to be exploited.
3.Brave New World
You see the power guy in the back of this shot? The one levitating up to fix the power? The book is full of smart uses of magic in everyday ways like that but this is my favorite. This is a patchwork world, not quite either and a little of both and there's an interesting implication that it may not be particularly stable. Whether that ties into the later story isn't clear yet, but what is, is that Knave and Kirkbride have put a lot of thought into how this world works, and how to differentiate it from other urban fantasy series.
4.Take the Blue Pill
Nice to see Tetsuo branching out in his later years. I do hope the FDA/NICE/Wizarding Council/Delete as applicable signed off on clinical trials first though…
The approach of the helicopter, and Amelia being completely unaware of it, is a depth of field trick that gets used a couple of times here. It's a nice technique, giving you the impression of time passing and mapping that procession onto the page, as well as ramping up tension. Plus, it neatly humanizes Amelia, with the helicopter crash proving to be more of a surprise to her than to us.
6.Thinking with Portals
The book flexes it's narrative muscles and the end result is this glorious, Eisner-esque page. The crash victim falls down the middle of the page and down the building before being catapulted sideways off the page, through a portal and onto safe ground. Motion is translated into the motion of reading, with Amelia's frantic actions acting as the background for the fall. It's an extremely clever, elegant action beat and I'm fascinated to see what Amelia does when she starts to get used to her abilities in this world.
7.Lemmy at rest
This panel, of Lemmy patiently waiting to be summoned, is beautiful. I can't really put it any other way. This is everything you need to know about the character; animate, patient, loyal, inhuman in one stunning image. This is also the world that Amelia finds herself in, where she has to build her first friend, where what she is is threatened but, somehow, she's more powerful. This is the book in a nutshell, magic and modern, urban and unnatural. This is my favorite panel so far this year and I'd love to see it done as a print. Regardless, this is stunning work in the second issue of one of the best books on the market
Amelia Cole and the Unknown World is published by Monkeybrain Comics and is $1.99
Alasdair's review copy supplied by Treasure Island Comics