By Cameron Hatheway
Last year I reviewed The Untamed when it was still coming out in floppies on an inconsistent basis. There were only five issues out at the time, with the final two nowhere to be seen. It was pretty disheartening, because it's a really good comic. "Here we go again," I thought to myself, "I can't wait to read the whole thing in one sitting in a couple more years." But then something amazing happened: the last two issues came out, and the series was completed. I reread the first five issues, read the last two, and was immensely pleased with the final result. It's as if someone lit a fire under Sebastian A. Jones and Peter Bergting, and they came out guns a-blazin' with the epic conclusion of the Stranger and Niobe.
The story revolves around a Stranger with a dark and mysterious past who makes a deal with the devil to save the souls of his wife and daughter. Taking place in corrupt town of Oasis, the Stranger hunts down and kills those who have wronged him in the past, collecting their souls with his special sword. He's skilled with the blade and almost undefeatable, causing his enemies to grow alarmed as he comes for them one at a time. Along the way he befriends a young woman named Niobe who reminds him of his own daughter, and turns her into an ally on his quest for vengeance. The first issue is available for free on iBooks, Google Play, and Kobo.
This world of Asunda has been intricately crafted over the past 20+ years by Jones, who has diligently been building and expanding this world throughout other titles in the Stranger Comics line (Dusu, Tales of Asunda, Waso). His passion for his creation perfumes from the pages, and there's no doubt in your mind that he's giving his heart and soul into this world and all of its inhabitants. It's one thing to be passionate about your characters, and another to actually show it. Jones provides the reader the depth and history needed throughout The Untamed, showing that his epic dark fantasy comic is miles apart from the rest out there.
What helps really sell the story is Bergting's art and the dark tone that inhabits the comic. Action scenes and fight sequences make the characters spring to life on the pages, basking the reader in all the bloody glory and awesomeness. I'm not sure that the comic would be as amazing if Bergting's talents weren't attached, for he really nails what Jones was going for and constantly brings that mind-blowing "oomph" every page.
The graphic novel is now available in its entirety only as a digital comic at the moment, with a Kickstarter to help fund the deluxe hardcover version starting in February. While there are plans to release a regular edition of The Untamed, the Kickstarter will be for the fans who want more bonus features and behind-the-scenes extras, such as concept art, interviews with the creators, and so much more. Such features are currently available in the digital edition.
The "Anatomy of a Page" section is a treat, as the reader can witness the step-by-step process of how the comic went from script, to pencils, to the final product via layouts by Darrell May. In "Artwork of The Untamed," several pin-ups from a variety of artists is featured, further expanding the world of Asunda. With contributions from Hyoung Taek Nam, Sheldon Mitchell, Afua Richardson, Kim W. Andersson, Luke Parker, Ryan Winn, Matt Timson, Marcus Lindgren, and Eric Nguyen, it's definitely worth every penny. Finally the several pages of concept art is mesmerizing, for Jones employed what seems like an army of artists to help bring his world one step closer to the comics medium.
The Untamed graphic novel is definitely worth purchasing for your digital library, and one day soon your actual bookshelf. Be sure to sign-up for the Kickstarter when it debuts in February, for you'll definitely want to own the final product. I was fortunate enough to see the prototype hardcover at Stan Lee's Comikaze recently, and I can definitely say I'll be first in line for the actual book when the Kickstarter commences. With one graphic novel in the bag, the door has now been opened for several more in the Stranger Comics universe.