Echolands, Volume 1 by J. H. Williams III, Haden Blackman, J. H. Williams III (Artist), Dave Stewart (Colorist), Tod Klein (Letterer)
First, you hear a recommendation. Then you read the prologue. In them, they refuse to tell you what the book is about. Dave Gibbons, Neil Gaiman, and Kurt Busiek all rave about it, so you open this book asking yourself: what is it??
And then you say: Whoa!
Hope Redhood has a special ability, in a world full of them. She has a crew of thieves, coming from all the areas of broken fantasy kingdoms (there are werewolves, vampires, robots, and more fantastic creatures than even Fables and Saga combined), and they are all escaping the lord of all the realms, the Supreme leader: Teros Demond, the Wizard, and his terrible daughter.
Why? Because Redhood is a thief and has stolen something from him.
So far, so good.
However, this landscape-format-epic story is not only about a war between realms, it is about understanding what the genre can do, what not even high CGI and very expensive special effects can achieve: in a drawing page, everything is possible.
It is about breaking the panels as a way of breaking the narrative, and I had not seen such a marvel since Alan Moore’s Big Numbers.
The sheer combination of drawing styles and narratives hits you like a hammer. It is intricately drawn and designed, is fast-paced and full of mystery, and there is an alien oracle, The Metaphysicist, to guide you through it.
I love the fact that Todd Klein is lettering, and that he can give a Nightmarish Sandman vibe here that is impossible to shake off.
This is a bizarre ride, but one you should definitely take, if only to put the artist in Comic Valhalla and aspire to, one day, draw like this, tell a story as farfetched as this one, and achieve this type of mastery.
Echolands, Volume 1 is on sale since August 23, 2022.
Publisher: Image comics
Publish Date: August 23, 2022.
ISBN: 9781534321137, 272pp.
Featured image by J. H. Williams III, all images belong to Image Comics