Amelia Cole and the Unknown World
Writers: Adam P. Knave & D.J. Kirkbride
Artist: Nick Brokenshire
Letterer & Designer: Rachel Deering
Color Assistant: Ruiz Moreno
Review by Joey Braccino
Amelia Cole doesn’t quite know where she belongs. Literally.
At the start of Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride’s Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, our titular heroine battles a persuasion demon up and down main street in broad daylight. Fortunately for Amelia, she’s sporting her headphones, so the persuasion demon’s persuasions have no effect on her. The battle is dynamic and thrilling, but Amelia’s narration reveals the setting of our story. Amelia is well aware of two distinct worlds: the non-magic world and the magic world. The non-magic world—for all intents and purposes, our world—has all the modern trappings: cell phones, coffee shops, mp3 players, and fried chicken joints; the magic world is, well, magical. Amelia Cole belongs to both and, as she finds out later in the book, neither.
Raised by her magical Aunt Danni in the magical world, Amelia is a budding wizard in her own right. As a teenager, however, she has grown tired of being stuck in one world and has been jumping back and forth between realms. There are two issues with Amelia’s frequent trips between the Magic and the Non: a) it’s illegal and b) the very fabric of reality is tearing with each jump!!!
Of course, the mystical fuzz comes a calling and Aunt Danni makes the ultimate sacrifice to stabilize the universe and save Amelia from arrest. In doing so, however, Amelia is thrust not into the Magical Realm or the Non-Magical World, but rather some strange third realm that she had no knowledge about. Enter the Unknown World of the title.
And that’s the set-up for Amelia Cole and the Unknown World. Over the course of six issues, Amelia learns more and more about this new realm and its bizarre blend of non-magical and magical elements and, ultimately, finds her place as a magician, as a hero, and as a good person in this strange new land. Originally published through Monkeybrain Comics, Amelia Cole and the Unknown World has been collected by IDW Publishing in graphic novel format. The production quality is incredibly, and the overall architecture of Knave and Kirkbride’s narrative is much clearer and much more effective in collected format.
Mixing slice-of-life characterization, post-modern world building, and mystical heroics, Knave and Kirkbride tell a refreshing Young Adult story in Amelia Cole. Nick Brokenshire’s visual aesthetic channels the ground-breaking work of Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez on the Love and Rockets series. Brokenshire’s naturalism blends simple cartooning and intense realism and effectively grounds Kirkbride and Knave’s more out-there magical elements. For every scene in which Amelia and her sidekick golem, Lemmy, battle some mystical demon, there are two scenes in which she fixes leaks as the apartment super or visits the local convenience store. The artwork helps convey Knave and Kirkbride’s subtext: yes, this story is about magic and overcoming the forces of darkness, but it’s also about Amelia Cole’s character arc of self-discover from stranger in a strange land to hero, protector, and populist. There is a coming-of-age story underlying all of the brilliant and dynamic magic duels and shadowy villains.
Definitely check Amelia Cole out! We’re about halfway through the second arc of the series, which you can get on comixology.com, but IDW does an excellent job collecting the first six issues into this Amelia Cole and the Unknown World graphic novel. Knave and Kirkbride’s wonderful world-building and quirky characterization make for an engaging readers of all ages, and Brokenshire’s level of detail is astounding. Amelia Cole is the protector the Unknown World needs and deserves, and sharing in the story of how she gets the job is a thrilling and endearing experience! Check it!