‘Niobe: She is Life’ #1 Comic Review
written by Amanda Stenberg and Sebastian A. Jones; illustrated by Ashley A. Woods; layouts by Darrell May; and lettered by A Larger World Studios
Niobe: She is Life is a difficult comic to place. The story starts out in the middle of things, with the titular character, Niobe, running from a small detachment of armored bowmen led by a woman with an unpigmented complexion. No explanation is given as to why Niobe is running, other than a cryptic passage on the inside cover reading “a savior is running from her past, from a sin she swore never to commit.” I get the feeling that there were prior events to the story, but given that this is issue #1, I can only guess that we’ll be filled in with more information in future issues.
As is is, Niobe: She is Life #1 follows Niobe as she’s running and escapes her pursuers by jumping off a waterfall. She is rescued by an unidentified person and taken in (sort of?) by a group of men, who apparently are outcasts of a similar nature to Niobe (or so they claim). Her reception by the group is mixed, with a number of the men resentful that their leader has welcomed her. Before she meets the group of men, there is very little dialogue, with most of the comic being art and some light narration (mostly introspection from Niobe’s point of view).
With the gaps that were left in establishing the world and situation, I found it difficult to really get in to the story. By the time the plot and events pick up enough to carry it along without any background information, the issue comes to a close. I’ve come across comics like this before, and can’t help but wonder whether Niobe: She is Life would be better off told in a longer, graphic novel format (as opposed to being released in single comic issues). Other than that, it was interesting enough, and I really enjoyed seeing a fantasy comic with a setting and characters other than the typical Tolkien-esque northern and temperate climates and European peoples.
The artwork on a whole is beautifully done. The characters and foreground objects were given hard, black outlines, but not so distinct that it kept them from blending seamlessly with the rich, occasionally watercolor-style backgrounds. Everything is done in a more realistic style (as opposed to cartoonish), but not overly-detailed so as to take away from its overall soft feel.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Niobe is a difficult comic to place. The story doesn’t really draw you in immediately, and by the time it begins to draw you in at all, issue #1 ends. I have high hopes for issue #2, though, and the limited series on a whole. I’d recommend the comic to fans of high fantasy and fantasy/drama.