Steampunk! Fantasy! Romantic comedy! It’s about a teenaged girl named Mia White who is transported to the fantastical world of Belatyr courtesy of an antique ring that her grandfather left her. There she encounters a powerful, brash and egotistical young mage named Crimson Rhen and his crew on board the famed airship ‘The True North’. Adventure, hilarity and teen angst ensue.
Thank goodness I have been following this comic for a while now, because it is one of the longest comics I have reviewed thus far. Nonetheless, it still takes a while to go through the comic again to pinpoint specifics.
Shadowbinders is a very complex story with overlapping plotlines. For people who don’t like long comics, this may not be a good one for you. Shadowbinders has a very long story –which makes sense since it is almost two stories in one. Kambrea and Kneon do an excellent job of combining these two stories into one, giving it a feel similar to that of Narnia.
Actually, Shadowbinders feels like a mix of a lot of different classic stories. Narnia, Treasure Planet, and one other that I can’t quite place my finger on… maybe Star Trek? Either way, this combination works well.
One of the features that makes the combination of two stories work so well, are the smooth transitions from one world into the next. Kambrea and Kneon prove straight off the bat that they are capable of capturing these supposedly tricky scenes.
There is one issue that I have with the story. It is a controversial issue in the fact that it works, but I feel like it shouldn’t. The problem is that we aren’t always with the main character. Yes, there is technically more than one main character, but I always assumed that Mia was the one the reader would follow around –and for the most part that is true. But every now and then when she leaves her “Narnia” and goes back to the main world, the readers remain behind with the other main characters. It works, but I get this feeling that we should only know what she knows.
One thing is for sure though, Kambrea and Kneon know how to make an entrance! Their introduction to the comic begins with a bang –quite literally!
Tearing apart the story now and looking at the details via writing, it is very well done. Kambrea’s thoughts and direction for the plot are well addressed and are clear. The writing is clever and humorous.
The humour is also very present because of the clever writing style. I am a stickler when it comes to adding humour to a comic, and Kambrea does it right by incorporating it directly into the plot instead of just throwing in a joke for no reason. By creating a character that uses humour, but also incorporating a serious side to him, Kambrea has created depth. And character depth determines (in my opinion) whether a story will last. Humour and seriousness go hand in hand for characters that are comedic relief –this has been shown time and time again in great movies and comics.
To wrap up the writing section, Shadowbinders also has few to no grammar/spelling errors that I can remember or saw when glancing over it again. Thumbs up from me!
And now on to art.
From an overall impression, the artwork is good, the colour choices are amazing, and there are some pretty unique character designs.
Looking closer, some of the character proportions could be better, with some scenes appearing stiff or just slightly off.
To tie in with proportions, facial angles can also be improved upon. With the little bit of drawing I have done in my life, these are tricky. It takes a lot of time and practice to get this right, especially with the human face.
Moving away from proportions and zooming back out to an overview of the entire story, it is pretty clear that Kneon’s talents have grown. Time and again I tell you I am a huge fan of watching people grow in their work, and Kneon is no exception. He starts off strong in his artwork, but continues to improve throughout each chapter. To be fair, they do have a lot of chapters. It makes sense why his improvement would be visible.
One thing that stayed the same however, is his impeccable ability to create stunning backgrounds. I find it sad that people don’t take the time to create beautiful backgrounds to complement their foregrounds. It is always a treat when I read a comic in which its creator put just as much effort in the background as they did the foreground.
Kneon utilizes his backgrounds in way to make sure they don’t pull the reader’s attention away from the scene they are reading. I like this. You can appreciate it, without being distracted by it. Point proven with his gorgeous action scenes. Minimizing the background allows for more focus on the action that is occurring.
Last, but certainly not least, is my favourite feature in Shadowbinders. Faces. Kneon is not afraid to pull faces. The emotions are real, and the emotions are intense. There is no fear of keeping the girl “pretty”, but rather the focus is on “normal.” It is unbelievably refreshing to see a girl whose face is contorted in surprise, or fear, or sadness, without the shame of appearance. It is a different kind of beauty, and it is the beauty I prefer.
I am a bit biased here. I was already subscribed to Shadowbinders before Kneon and Kambrea requested a review. Of course I would recommend it to people, I love this comic. It has a good mix of humour, grief, and most importantly, a very well planned plot.
If you are in the mood to sit down and read for a while, I would suggest Shadowbinders. It is a long read, and I’m assuming it still has a long way to go!
PS. There is even a wiki page!
Want your own comic reviewed? Leave a comment below or email me!