With all the meta-level shenanigans that have been going on in Zenescope’s Realm War: Age of Darkness series of late, it is easy sometimes to lose sight of the small details. But they are always there, and each issue focuses on something different from the rest. This then ends up giving space to some of these mysteries to develop in each issue, and that’s what I love about this ensemble-cast series, that it focuses on both the meta and the more immediate stories so you get a healthy balance of both.
In Realm War: Age of Darkness #6 from this past week, we finally learn one of the biggest secrets of the Grimm Universe, and thus are able to finally figure out why Robyn has been such an important character since her birth, and why Lucinda the Dark Queen courted her so damn much, eventually turning over the Realm Knight to the cause of the evil and mighty Dark Horde. But that’s not everything here since we also get to see how Sela and the others are holding up in the face of constant attacks by the Dark Horde and how it is breaking them all on an emotional level.
Realm War: Age of Darkness has been chugging about for a while now since the Realms fell to the Dark Horde last summer. The heroes have been scattered and the villains have consolidated their power more and more, though there is still a lot of trouble in paradise, so to speak. And this is the issue that finally ups the game on the meta-story and lays out one of the biggest twists in Zenescope comics in like the last year or so. I won’t spoil what that is (you have to wait till the next issue for that), but suffice to say that it is a game-changing twist that cracks open the widening gap between Malec and Lucinda even further, something that I’ve been having a lot of fun watching happen.
On the flip side of things, where Malec isn’t busy drawing others to his cause to take down Lucinda as the leader of the Dark Horde, we have Sela and the others barely escaping with their lives and reflecting on what this continued cycle of war is doing to all of them. Three heroes fell to the Blood Knights and the Dark Horde in the latest battle, and that’s Sela’s breaking point, where she really has to reexamine her choices and her way forward. It isn’t an easy thing to do, that’s for sure.
Pat Shand’s writing with this series keeps getting better and better as he further develops the new mythology of Age of Darkness and inexorably moves towards the conclusion of this 12-part series, coming in July this year, hopefully. There are a lot of different things going on here and I think that he balances all of that much better than he has before, letting the different characters shine all in their own way and also letting some of the plot-threads breathe so that they aren’t caught up in a gigantic mess of things.
Which would actually have been a fairly easy thing to do, considering how much juggling is necessary in an ensemble title like this.
There were some bits where the dialogue faltered a little but, but the rest of the issue was damn good and the pacing was the same. And the final twist of the story, of a double agent within the heroes, that certainly made me sit up and take notice. Lucinda’s power extends far and wide it seems, which would be interesting in the coming months.
Sami Kivela is the artist with Maxflan Araujo on the colours, Jim Campbell on the letters, and the cover by Paolo Pantalena and Ula Moss. The art was utterly fantastic here. It is one of the biggest reasons why I buy this comic month after month and the new issue is no different to that really. The action scenes, the body language, the expressions, the details, the backgrounds, everything is A-grade here, without a doubt. And those scenes that do offer some typical Zenescope titillation are also handled rather artfully, so that was a big plus.
Another title with a great start to the new year.