Niobe: She Is Life #1
Writer: Amandla Stenberg & Sebastian A. Jones
Art: Ashley A. Woods
Layouts: Darrel May
Publisher: Stranger Comics
Stranger Comics is a new publisher that is creating a whole new world called Asunda. This is a mythical world with a ton of fantastical characters, many of which first appeared in the series The Untamed. Also premiering in that series was the title character of this book, Niobe. This book is written by actress Amandla Stenberg (Hunger Games, Rio 2, Sleepy Hollow) as well as Stranger Comics president, Sebastian A. Jones. The art duties go to Ashley A. Woods, who proves her chops on her website by drawing all manor of character. See more of her work here!
Niobe wishes to escape her merciless tyrant of a father, and in her quest for freedom no one will assist her but the life goddess Arnuminel. Hunting her are members of the king's guard, led by the vampiric Essessa. While running, Niobe finds herself trapped, with her pursuers in one direction and a waterfall at her back. Obviously she chooses to descend down the waterfall, and finds herself in a strange but vibrant land with a peculiar group of individuals, lead by Bragnar Steelnose and worshiping a strange god named Powisienne. Tension mounts quickly, as Niobe must deal with the tensions of the untrusting group as well as the possibility that she is still being searched for.
Stenberg and Jones have weaved a very mythical tapestry as Niobe travels in a world that she finds familiar and surprising all at the same time. Niobe is my first foray into the world of Asunda, but from what I can see it gives a great representation of what the line has to offer. The exposition in this book is not overpowering but manages to provide a lot of the background leading up to this story as well as providing a good sense of what has occurred before. Not only that, but the mysteries surrounding the character of Niobe as well as what the future holds for her were brilliantly executed to effortlessly draw in new readers. The world building finds a very stable footing as we get introduced to gods and entities that influence the actions of the characters to push the story in an intriguing direction.
Artist Ashley Woods proves with every panel that she is a master of lush environments and beautiful character models. Primarily taking place in natural environments, each panel explodes with life as Niobe and the rest of the cast interact with an uninterrupted world. From the tree filled above world to the solid movement in the waterfall to the hellish subterranean area the water fall leads to, every panel is absolutely stunning. Adorning these panels while also bringing necessary momentum to the story are each of the characters. The characters each have their own look and are illustrated with a smooth and steady hand. Unique hair and facial patterns promote clear characterization, allowing a very understandable set of characters to go with the dialogue. My personal favorite character model is Essessa, who is drawn to look angelic while simultaneously appearing sinister. On all fronts this is an artistically stunning book.
Stranger Comics has a clear plan for the world they are building, and the efforts of Stenberg, Jones, and Woods are extremely beneficial to that. This is a beautiful story that is building a rich history, and a great portrayal of this fresh creative teams' talents. Niobe: She is Life #1 (of 9) came out in November but can still be bought off www.strangercomics.com/ along with issue 2!