Writer: Sebastian Girner / Artist: Galaad / Letterer: Jeff Powell / Image Comics
Guess who’s back in these fantastical streets?!? Scales & Scoundrels, people! With an issue #11 that really gets you right here. *points at heart*
S&S #11 centers on the stalwart Dorma Ironweed and her return home to the Dwarven city, Archfire. Girner really goes the extra mile by filling out Dorma’s character and gifting us the core of her motivation: to buck the traditional expectations of women in her family.
In just a few pages, Girner and Galaad draw to the surface a complex, personal narrative that is peppered with the depth of the human experience. Scales & Scoundrels #11 holds within it a story that is as real as it gets: how we manage grief and keep on living. Using Dorma’s family dynamics to play that out is a stroke of genius, really. It works on quite a few levels.
The writing in S&S has always been sparse, meted, and appropriate to a ‘T.’ Issue #11 uses fresh, grounded dialogue to deliver another ‘day-in-the-life’ entry. Where it made sense to have that in place for the titular protagonist Luvander (shout out to the homie Lu on Twitter @LuTheScoundrel), it is a welcomed surprise to have the perspective shift to Dorma. Readers are given an opportunity to explore this ever-growing world through a new set of eyes. Scales & Scoundrels true brilliance lies in how it gives crash courses in the richness of its world’s cultures. S&S #11 doesn’t disappoint.
Art and Words Together
In comics, world building is done in tandem. It’s a team sport, there’s no getting around it. Some teams work better than others. Word to everything I know: Galaad’s vibrant colors, expertly designed panels, and dynamic character expression synch up PERFECTLY with Girner’s writing. This is the team to beat. I dare you to find a more genius combo! There are moments where I think magical/supernatural things are happening in the ‘ancestor’s room.’ But I can’t tell for sure, BECAUSE somehow, Galaad’s panels are providing the same level of mystique as Girner’s vision for the world at large in this series. I legit can’t get enough of this. I should also call attention to the book’s unsung hero: Jeff Powell. Powell does the general design and does the infrequently mentioned but hella important part of comics, lettering. The ability Powell has to set up speech bubbles that align with the actions Galaad places in a panel and still (physically on occasion) embody/personify the text Girner puts forth is yet another note in a symphony of harmonious storytelling.
Remember a paragraph or so back where I said Scales & Scoundrels doesn’t disappoint. Well, there is one thing: the last page. Where we would usually revel in the awesomeness of the mailing letters and fan outreach, there is a message to the readers.
Apparently, this series will end after the next issue (it says “for now”) and may or may not return! I can say with all honesty that it has been an honor to read and review this set of stories, and I look forward to seeing Scales & Scoundrels return in the future. All I’m saying is issue #12 might need to be trade-sized, because I’m really going to miss their work. Thank you, Sebastien, Galaad, and Jeff. See you on the next one. Whatever it might be.
8 Dynamite Cave-Ins out of 10
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