Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thirty Days of Short Reviews #18: The Legend of Bold Riley #1

Published by Northwest Press, The Legend of Bold Riley #1 is a follow-up to the longer work of the same name. It's unusual in a couple of regards: the titular hero is a woman of color (her name and garb suggest of South Asian descent, even as the setting is entirely fictional), and she also happens to be a lesbian. What's great about it is that while these are indelible facts about her, they are very much in the background with regard to the story. It's taken for granted that she's a dashing hero who sweeps the ladies off their feet; it's part of her colorful personality. However, the story itself isn't in any way didactic; all it's interested in is providing an entertaining, exciting adventure narrative.

In that regard, it certainly succeeds. Writer Leia Weathington has an excellent grasp on this character as one part swashbuckler, one part slightly tragic and lovelorn figure. In this issue, she finds a tiny bone that talks to her and tells her that she's thirsty. When she dips it into mug after mug of ale (and Bold Riley gets sloshed along with the bone), it finally tells her a tale of woe. That leads her to reunite the bone, that belonged to a young man, with his lost beloved. There's a lovely moment of reunion, followed by an almost hilarious but certainly dreadful turn on that feeling, as Bold Riley must deal with a watery demon. It's a clever story that deftly mixes action, humor and emotion. Artist Jonathan Dalton has a wonderfully stylized line that's somewhere between cartoony and naturalistic. Even with full color, it eschews the sort of slickness that can be a huge turn-off in this sort of comic. It very much looks like it comes from his hand, with all the quirks that go along with it, and the story is all the better for it. At the end of the story, I wanted to read more, which is the ultimate sign of success for a genre story.

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