Jeremy Dale Writes and Draws
Thom Zahler Letters
Steve Downer Colors
Joey Braccino Reviews
As I read the debut issue of Jeremy Dale’s Skyward, I couldn’t help but flashback to my younger (happier?) days spent playing Final Fantasy on my Sony Playstation. Immersing myself in the fantasy world of swordplay and tunics, I would spend hours upon hours in front of the 13” tube TV.
Good times, good times.
And here we are. Skyward.
How shall I count the ways? There are so many things that I LOVE about Jeremy Dale’s tale of young Quinn and his tragic initiation into the life of an adventurer.
First, Dale’s artwork is perfect for the story at hand. The linework balances cartooning and naturalism to create an aesthetic that is both visually clear and deceptively simple. Steve Downer’s colors are vibrant and varied, lending the book a youthful energy that the subject matter and setting might not. When I first opened the book, I instantly thought that Dale’s work reflected an All Ages strategy, but, again, Skyward is an incredible deceptive, incredibly nuanced comic book.
Skyward opens with a boy, Quinn, and his father, Corin, knee-deep in a peaceful lake fly-fishing. It’s a serene scene that instantly evokes the familial themes that carry the debut issue from beginning to end. We meet Corin’s wife, Taryn, as well as his former-ally-turned-murderous-and-corrupt-villain, Herod. What ensues is a fairly standard origin story as it were for our young protagonist, Quinn, that sees Herod essentially obliterate his calm, pastoral existence violently and terribly. Some of the scenes are surprisingly intense for what could otherwise be construed as an All Ages story, but that’s a good kind of surprising: Dale is not dodging the realities of Quinn’s “genesis,” instead lending the debut issue all of the emotional resonance that only death, violence, and pain can.
My only criticism of this comic book is one that frequent readers of Talking Comics will understand: Taryn, who at first appears to be a relatively confident character, ends up filling little more than your typical Woman-in-Refrigerator role. And that’s a bummer. Aside from her fantastically rustic flowing hair-and-bandana combo, Taryn’s storyline in this debut issue devolves quickly into victimization and tragedy. I understand that Dale is using her to elicit an emotional response from Quinn, but come on! Does the ONLY female character in issue #1 have to the only underdeveloped character in the book!?!?
Action Lab has a winner on its hands with Jeremy Dale’s Skyward. After a bit of research, I learned that Skyward has gone through a bit of a self-publishing phase and received a brief Issue #0 in Action Lab’s Free Comic Book Day comic. Looking at solicits and past issues, I’m sure my sole criticism regarding female representation in the book will be remedied. Still, Taryn’s fate in this book may deter some readers, which is an unfortunate turn considering the abundant achievements in this debut issue. For fans of high fantasy and ol’ fashioned swordplay, Skyward is the comic for you. For those that like both those things but need a little bit more heart, the lost-boy storyline at the core of Skyward should carry this new series to such great heights!