Written by Seth Peck with art by Nick Filardi and Jeremy Haun.
At its surface, The Realm is a book with a concept that is, surprisingly, pretty unexplored in terms of popular fiction. The concept is post-apocalyptic fantasy in which our world has been overrun with all the creatures and myths from Tolkien-esque fantasy, and it has spelled the end of civilization as we know it. Like I said, this genre of fiction is relatively unexplored in any form that has really caught on with audiences and made much of a cultural impact. The most prominent example would probably be Adventure Time, but within two panels of The Realm we can see this is a very different approach to the concept.
We find ourselves in a bleak and joyless world, more similar in tone to The Walking Dead than any Land of Ooo. Our entry point into this is an equally bleak man named Will Nolan, a for-hire bodyguard/escort with a nasty little secret. He’s shrewd, callus, and kind of a bad ass like every good anti-hero. This first issue introduces us to some of the other players in this tale and sets the stage for what I assume will be the main plot of the series; a dangerous trek from Chicago to Kansas City across the fantasy ruins of America.
All-in-all, this feels like showing a new dog old tricks, and it is caught up in the popular trend of dark fantasy that seems to be void of any hope or humor. Don’t get me wrong. The art is good to great and the story itself is solid, but given the unexplored nature of the setting, it feels like a missed opportunity. This comes off as The Walking Dead but replace the zombies with orcs, goblins and the implication of dragons, which feels like the least interesting angle to take on the idea.
Even having said that, there is room here for a really great comic series. This is, after all, only the first issue, and it is possible that some of the grim tones will fade a little. If they don’t, it’s still a solid read.
So, will I come back for issue two? Honestly, right now I’m fifty/fifty on actually picking this series up. The art and potential of the concept are still more of a sell for me than the actual execution, so another few issues are probably in order to make a final call.