Mild Spoilers Ahead
A trio of pirates known as the Three-Headed Beast of the Open Sea is ambushed by a man claiming to build the Rebel Army. He wants to recruit the three pirates, but one doesn’t take the offer so well. He suffers for his mistake. From there, the Rebel Army grows and moves along the coast. They send messengers to every port to spread the news of their arrival. The local magicians defect and raise havoc before the Rebel Army even arrives. It’s proving a successful tactic, and the Empire may soon crumble. The Rebel Army makes it to Milos, and the Prince and his soldiers in Verose begin to worry.
Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince #1 The Rebel Army (not entirely sure how to punctuate that title) is my first experience with V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic comic series. A world full of magicians does innately make for an interesting premise, and the storytelling potential there is near-limitless with the right amount of creativity and ambition.
As such, I’m also unaware of what the rules are for magic in this franchise, though I can’t fault Shades of Magic for my lack of experience. What I also can’t fault it for–at least not entirely–is my instinct to root for the Rebel Army in this conflict. They’re clearly an antagonistic and cruel force in this story, but it’s hard not to want to see an empire fall. In something like Reaver by Justin Jordan and Rebekah Isaacs, the fallibility and evil corruption of its Empire is backed into the story; here, we’re almost supposed to take it as read that the Shades of Magic Empire is worth defending. Prince Maxim Maresh was the protagonist of the previous tales, but the need to see a monarch fall is hard to ignore. Admittedly, there’s still plenty of time for a face-turn from this Rebel Army, or Maxim may give me a reason to root for him in issues to come.
Other than the leader of the Rebel Army and his pirate lieutenants, the characters aren’t so much focused upon in this comic. Instead, it’s very plot-focused. That said, the story is fast-moving and fairly engaging.
Andrea Olimpieri proves a very talented artist who brings this story to life in a vivid manner. The detailing is excellent, and the magic is visually interesting. That said, shadows do obscure a lot in this comic and could be trimmed back a bit. Colorist Enrica Erin Angilioni gives the book a decent color palette, though the colors are a bit too muted throughout.
Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince #1 is a solid read. The story is interesting, the introduced characters have a lot of potential, and the artwork is solid. There are some caveats that hinder the final product, but it’s still worth a recommendation if fantasy and magic are your jam. Feel free to pick this one up.
V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince #1 The Rebel Army comes to us from writer V.E. Schwab, artist Andrea Olimpieri, color artist Enrica Erin Anngilioni, flatters Christine Joy Penafiel and Shari Chankhamma, letterer Rob Steen, cover artist Claudia Caranea, and variant cover artists Andrea Olimpieri and Andrew Leung.
Final Score: 7/10