Zelaria: Dynasty of Darkness is a brand-new comic book from Peter Smith of Crimson Fable Studios. There is so much love and incredible artistry in this story, it’s almost hard to know where to begin with our review.
In the words of Crimson Fable Studios, Zelaria is a comic novella that combines Sci-Fi, Steam Punk and Fairy Tales. And seriously, all of those elements are alive and present in the first issue of this excellent comic book.
Before even delving into the story, I have to gush about the design for a minute. I love the aesthetic of this comic book. I find the art style familiar and refreshing at the same time. I love the costume designs and the character designs. The line work is clean and distinctive. I love the poses and the facial expressions on every character. Personalities are clearly distinctive on everyone. There’s definitely no guessing what everyone’s motivation is or what they are going to do next. High energy or low energy, Peter Smith tells us how to read the character, which ultimately helps in how we read the story.
And really, while people like to get really touchy when it comes to depictions of female characters in stories, the women in here are total babes. I love the sleek eyes, pouty lips, and perky boobs. This is a look I am attracted to and I enjoy it. As for the men, they’re all trim, muscular, and in shape too, so there is a lot going on here art-wise that’s really working for me.
So, let’s talk a little about the characters. Zelaria, while a perfectly strong narrative with lots of its own original elements, is a little light and has tongue in cheek moments. Therefore, when I got to the page where our main character, AKA, this dude, AKA ‘Not Han Solo’ showed up:
I wasn’t really all too surprised.
The story itself is very layered, and I have to unfortunately say that it begins with one of my least favorite methods of storytelling– the ‘info dump’. The first page is a very long prologue filled with the lore leading up to the moment we’re in. Granted, it is a good story– in a nutshell, an evil fairy, ruling Zelaria with an iron fist. A group of rebels planned to overthrow her, and this began what’s called the Twilight Wars. She was defeated (offscreen) and her dark reign came to an end. Now a new darkness is rising 200 years after the fall of the dark fairy Carabosse, and a new conflict is on the rise.
Let’s talk about the method of storytelling here for a little bit. For me, it’s a little hard to follow. There is extensive amounts of writing on nearly every page and (again, for me) it makes the pacing and plot a little difficult to follow. I’m no stranger to books, comic books, novellas, or graphic novels, but there was something about the way the plot moved in Zelaria that made me have to go back and remember exactly what was happening.
Again, this is just me reading it, and I can guarantee that may not be necessarily your experience in reading the book.
Fortunately, Zelaria does not suffer from too many characters on screen together. The balance is just right. It’s very clear from the start what everyone’s motivation is and how they interact together to accomplish those goals. This is an adventure story, and the action begins right away. I want to see what these characters will go through together. I like the blend of comedy, wicked sultriness, and smooth unpredictability. I am very excited to see how this story moves and develops. I want to see what happens when our malevolent space pirate baddie gets her hands on Princess Talia. I want to see these layers moving forward and upward at the same time.
The Chronicles of Zelaria: Dynasty of Darkness is a spectacular kick off to what looks like it will be an amazing flagship title from Crimson Fable Studios. Peter Smith is a great artist and writer, and there’s no way tons of people won’t be completely sucked into this fantastical world.
I give ‘The Chronicles of Zelaria: Dynasty of Darkness’ 4 out of 5 stars.