DENALI #1 from Monkey Brain Comics; A square peg in a round hole.
Square peg, round hole. Faerber and Broglia make it fit.
Denali #1 from the digital-only comic company Monkey Brain Comics clearly falls into the fantasy genre. A magic-using thief named Paris, a yeti named Grok aide an enchanted-ax-wielding Viking warrior woman (Denali) on her quest across a wintery desolate wasteland. Having John Broglia on art really amps up the fantastical elements as well since his character designs would make Rob Tapert envious and based on the look alone this would fit perfectly between Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess in a weekend marathon. So that’s the round hole – a comic with that quintessential action/fantasy flavor. The square peg is Jay Faerber’s writing.
Probably best known for crime comics like Near Death and Point of Impact, the revelation that Faerber would be writing a fantasy-based comic for Monkey Brains was intriguing to say the least. While the visuals may be action-fantasy all the way, the dialogue and plot ends up feeling a bit more like a heist story than something involving swords and sorcery. The comic starts off with a double-cross over some mysterious cargo. Paris, serving as point-man for the trio, heads into the lion’s den to assess the situation and verify the goods before signaling the rest of the crew. So, as you can see – this takes a “con-man” style turn post-haste. An interesting exercise in this comic would be to remove the dialogue from the visuals and read them as a script. The casual cadence behind Paris’ dialogue and mafia-don intimidation style of Denali presents a modern day crime story, but then once you see it with Broglia’s illustrations – it takes on a whole new meaning.
So why does this square peg fit in the round hole? Because crime stories happen all the time in the fantasy genre, but we never think of them as ‘crime stories.’ What else is a raiding party, but a huge crew of thieves executing a heist? All kinds of underhandedness happens when you’re dealing with demons, warriors and magic-users; in Denali Faerber and Broglia tell that kind of story, but with a higher level of sophistication and less archaic dialogue.
Hopefully this wasn’t just a one-shot and more Denali’s on the way so we can see more crime/fantasy stories unfold with this trio via MonkeyBrains’ Comixology Storefront.
You can follow columnist Andrew Leslie @dethfilm One nation, under a groove ya’ll.