There are monsters hidden among us. The supernatural community is made up of eight factions: werewolves, vampires, angels, demons, warlocks, trolls, banshees, and gorgons, and they all coexist and keep themselves hidden from humanity thanks to a joint council set up centuries ago; however, whenever a new leader has to be chosen for the council, the groups engage in Epoch, a tournament fight that pits champions from each of the factions against one another until only one is left standing.
While that base concept sounds pretty anime inspired, there’s a lot more going on in Epoch than just supernatural throw-downs. There are mystery/conspiracy elements to Epoch which break up the flow of the combat nicely, and at its heart we have Jonah, a man who is trying to find his place in this strange world once the curtain is peeled back for him.
While the setting for Epoch is neat and the main plot has a lot of cool elements to it, the characters weren’t as compelling as I’d like. I had a hard time caring about Jonah or his family; they were merely vehicles to get to the next visually dynamic fight or to get the next piece of info about the setting. Epoch also fumbles its way through the romance it tries to include and is a component that felt completely unnecessary and tacked on to me (but I’m, in general, against every adventure tale having to have a romance). While the specific character moments didn’t do it for me, I really enjoyed how each faction was represented. Many urban fantasy stories bring these creatures from myth to life, but Epoch gives each of them a distinctive feel and succeeds at the difficult task of having these different beings regularly interacting with one another on the council. The political tension between the groups was easily my favorite part. Epoch has a lot of potential in the political intrigue department.
I also wasn’t a fan of the pacing of Epoch. It felt like the premise could easily have been stretched from five issues to twelve and given both more attention to each of the Epoch matches, which are over far too quickly, or aren’t shown at all, and the mystery side of the story. Given how cool each of these “monsters” are, this felt like a lost opportunity to show off the other factions.
The art in Epoch is awesome! The character designs are incredible, and the creative team does a great job showing off what they can do in the coolest fashion possible, which is a big part of why I wanted longer combat scenes. The characters, especially the Epoch fighters, are all very sexualized (shirtless, buff men and women with ridiculous amounts of cleavage), but it totally works here and the depictions are so equal that the sexualization didn’t feel exploitative.
The back of the book is chock full of setting information about each of the different species, their history, what they are capable of, and information about members of that particular faction. This information is wonderful and is what cemented the fact that I wanted the story decompressed, so we could get to know each of these characters better. While the angels make for a great set of protagonists for obvious reasons, there are stories to tell among the trolls, warlocks, and other factions, and I hope we get some more time with these other groups in future issues.
While I still feel that this first plot line of Epoch needed to be longer, where it ends is satisfying and lays the seeds for many more issues of this series. There are plenty of stories to tell in the setting, and I can’t wait to see where the creative team takes the series next.