Full disclosure here: I was totally new to the Heirs of Isildur (No, NOT Tolkien’s Isildur!) universe, and going in blind was kind of fun. As a primer, I watched a 5-minute long heavy metal music video that provided the context for the opening of Tales from Nocturnia #1. Not surprisingly, the music video also gave me an idea of what I was getting into. In short: a clashing of heavy metal and fantasy tropes that I have always kind of associated with Meat Loaf’s album covers.
The first two issues of Tales from Nocturnia do not disappoint if you’re looking for some heavy metal-esque fantasy. It’s shamelessly bombastic, violent, over-the-top, with some pretty great evil character designs. There are also moments of humor rolled in there. Matt Knowles and Steph Cannon have created a world that’s unapologetically gonzo, and I commend them for leaning into it and just pile-driving into the vibe. Knowles also serves as letterer to the series, and while it took me a while to quite get into the style, I found myself following along just fine after a bit. Personally, it’s part of what gives this series such a strong visual style.
Speaking of visuals, Javi Laparra’s artwork really gets the vibe going. Not a single page feels like it doesn’t belong in this universe. I will note that, personally, I found it a bit difficult to keep track of some of the male characters as they began to blend together. The female characters seemed to have much more distinct designs and color schemes. There’s also quite a distinct shift in the feel of the artwork from Issue #1 to Issue #2, and my guess is that can be attributed to the inclusion of inkers (Jesse Hansen and Andrew Cosson) and an extra colorist (Bryan Arfel Magnave). I prefer the more muted color scheme of the first issue, but it cannot be denied that the second issue looks a bit more “polished.”
As I was reading the preface about how this story came about, how it was basically inspired by just a single panel of the main story, I was struck by how beautifully they captured the essence of why #StoriesMatter. Stories can be planned, with painstaking design, and yet, just like real-life, they can deviate and take us on paths unknown. And inspiration can come, seemingly, out of nowhere. In this case, the artist was inspired by the writers and, in turn, inspired the writers to craft an entire spinoff to satisfy the curiosity of a moment. Stories give our existence purpose, and may that purpose be to inspire new stories.
Overall, if you’re feeling in the mood for some Dungeons & Dragons with Slayer doing the soundtrack, give this a try.
Creative Team: Matt Knowles (writer, letterer), Steph Cannon (writer), Javi Laparra (artist, colorist), Bryan Arfel Magnave (colorist), Jesse Hansen and Andrew ‘Drone’ Cosson (inker)
Publisher: Insymmetry Creations
Click here to purchase.