Writer – Joshua Williamson, Artists – Andrei Bressan and Adriano Lucas
The Rhodes family suffers one of the most unimaginable tragedies, the loss of a son. On his birthday, Mikey Rhodes wanders into the woods and everything falls apart. It’s a year later and the family has split up, destroyed by the toxic thought the Mikey’s father might have killed him. When their son returns in the form of an adult barbarian hero a year later can the family recover and reunite with their son? And what has come back with him?
This book takes the typical fantasy trope of a young boy wandering into a fantasy world only to learn that he is a hero of destiny, and turns it on its head. We do get scenes of Mikey as young boy as he meets his comrades in arms, and the dangers of the new world of Terrenos, ruled by the evil God King Lore. He is an unwilling hero, only wanting to go home, something he learns he can only do if he defeats the evil Lore.
But early on we learn that decades of fighting have taken their toll on Mikey, and his return may not mean that he has returned victorious.
I like Williamson’s honest treatment of how the loss of a child can affect a family, and how different members of the family accept or reject adult Mikey as their son. This part seems a little rushed but needs must for moving the story forward. An offhand remark later in the book I hope hints at some later development, as someone recognizes the jumpy and uneasy look of Mikey as PTSD. For all of the sprawling fantasy landscapes and creatures, this is a book that has humanity at its core.
The fantasy designs are good, but nothing particularly extraordinary. Some of the creatures seem Labyrinth or Dark Crystal inspired, which is appropriate given the subject matter. Mikey’s adult character design serves as contrast to the young boy we see in flashback, and it will be interesting to see how he changes.
Overall, an interesting first outing that hopefully will keep its center on family, while still delivering good fantasy.
(4 stars | Last page of this volume is a shocker)