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‘Modern Fantasy #1:’ Advance Comic Book Review

I’m looking at the cover of the first issue of Modern Fantasy right now, and the drawing of one of the characters, Lizard Wizard, is making me laaauuugh. The experience from the first to the last page of this delightfully mature twist on the fantasy world meets normal world was an absolute joy to read.

Writer Rafer Roberts and artist Kristen Gudsnuk have inverted the common tropes of mixing real world with fantasy world, and it’s nothing short of brilliant. Normally, this mixture is achieved by finding some forced way to put real-world characters into fantasy settings, and then . . . Cue shenanigans! Now, fantasy characters litter our world; they dress like us, act like us, and live like us. Roberts has mixed fantasy character tropes with twenty-something tropes into New York corporate America, with no explanation given or needed. In doing so, those fantasy tropes become surprisingly relatable. Mixing two of these would have provided ample amounts of enjoyment, but Roberts weaves together the three games seamlessly, finding jokes on every page. Thankfully (and magically), nothing feels forced.

Of course, it isn’t magic, it’s skill. While there is a clear story about a stolen magical item from drug dealer-like goblins by a kind of skeezy, bad boy, dark elf who is two degrees of separation from our leading lady, Roberts focuses mainly on developing the characters in this first issue. Our leading lady, Sage of the Riverlands, is, was, should be, and desperately wants to be a ranger on an adventure, but is now a data entry specialist who is trying to find meaning and excitement in her life and just now might get more than she bargained for. There’s also Sage’s best friend, Gondra, Daughter of Mythra, Lizard Wizard (mentioned above), a lizard person who is a huge mooch, his boyfriend, the dark elven kleptomaniac (mentioned moments ago), Bock-Darr, a monosyllabic, barbarian co-worker, etc. Gudsnuk brings these characters to life with a frantic, nervous, endearing energy. Is this what being in my twenties felt like? It certainly seems like it! Emotions were high, everything felt far more important than it was, and most of your problems were created by . . . well, yourself, and who you decided to spend time with.

This is an absurdist snap shot of a specific time of everyone’s life. The heightening with the fantasy elements works because everything felt so heightened at that age anyway. Like in my twenties, I find myself terribly and unapologetically in love with this comic book. Oh, to taste that sweet innocence once again.

Creative Team: Rafer Roberts (writer), Kristen Gudsnuk (art, colors, letters), Justin Couch (designer), Shantel LaRocque (editor), Brett Israel (assistant editor)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Click here to purchase.

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor



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