Amelia Cole and the Unknown World has it all: action, adventure, humor, heart, and magic. This is the third title from digital comics publishing powerhouse Monkeybrain Comics to get the print treatment, here from IDW, and it deserves every page. Written by Harvey and Eisner Award winners Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride, and with superb artwork by Nick Brokenshire, the six-issue story practically leaps off the page and pulls you into its various worlds. Amelia Cole lives between two worlds, a magical one and a non-magical one. But, before long, Amelia finds herself in a third world, an unknown world, where magic and non-magic coexist. Cleverly, all three of these worlds look deceptively similar, though under the surface they couldn’t be more different. The only true constant across all three is Amelia, who believes she should use her magic to help people, no matter what.
Amelia is a strong, determined heroine with a sharp sense of humor and enough heart to encapsulate all three worlds. Raised by her Aunt Dani and trained in the ways of magic, Amelia is always willing to put herself in harm’s way to protect the innocent. This has always put her in conflict with the powers that be, and this is once again the case in this new world where Amelia finds herself a stranger and eventually an apartment building super. Yes, you read that right. The main protagonist is a super, who uses a wrench wand to fix plumbing, save lives, fight monsters, and rail against the magical authorities that criminalize her for using magic to help non-magic people. This may sound a bit silly, but truly the world and characters that Knave and Kirkbride have created are full of so much heart and humor that they always ring true, and nothing in this book feels like a gimmick or dishonest. In fact, along with Monkeybrain Comics’ Edison Rex, this is probably one of the most honest comics I have reviewed yet.
Amelia Cole and the Unknown World is a character-driven story that is also full of amazing, creative magic, from teleportation balls and portal doors to golems and hooded protectors named Hector. Again, you read that correct. This book is that good, and it knows when to use humor and where to find it, and the humor flows organically through the characters, never pulling you out of the story, but instead enhancing it, and deepening our connection to Amelia and her circumstances, be they good or bad. Nick Brokenshire’s art is wonderful, especially in the way he can balance the magical with the mundane, all while bringing a nuanced realism to the story. We care about Amelia and her friends, and Brokenshire deftly displays emotions that we can identify with, numerous close-ups taking us right inside the characters through the emotions on their faces. The colors are phenomenal as well, bright and vibrant, without ever being garish, and kudos must go to color assistant Ruiz Moreno, because the vivid colors of Amelia’s worlds bring this book to life, and together the art and colors make each page a sumptuous feast for the eyes. The covers are elegant and could stand as works of art on their ow,n and the design of this book, by Rachel Deering, is gorgeous, while the lettering, also done by Deering, is seamlessly integrated throughout the story and panels, especially Amelia’s inner thoughts.
We understand the characters’ motivations and when we do not, it is usually because they themselves are not sure of their motivations, or of the goals they are trying to achieve, which is very often how it is in real life. We don’t always know what we are working towards, or even why, yet we continually try to do our best as we work to figure that out. There is beauty in a story that is willing to embrace that uncertainty, and that makes Amelia Cole and the Unknown World incredibly relatable, even with all its magic and persuasion demons. If you can’t get behind Amelia and her desire to make any world she lives in a better place, than I’m afraid no amount of magic will be able to help save you from your humorless coldheartedness, though Amelia will still try, because it’s the right thing to do.