ETERNAL EMPIRE #3
Two outcasts on the planet Saia finally cross paths and see their inherent power realized in ETERNAL EMPIRE #3 from Image Comics. Sarah Vaughn and Jonathan Luna share story duties on this series set on a distant world held captive by a cruel despot. Rion and Tair have both fled their labor camps due to strange visions and a voice deep inside them urging them to escape. When they finally meet they learn that they have the power of the flame, the ability to manifest and manipulate fire. The catch is that this power only activates when the two are in close proximity. After a fight with an Empire patrol the two embark on a journey of discovery about themselves, their past, and their world while the Empress finalizes her plans to finish the conquest of the planet.
Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn have a very unique voice in the two comics that they have co-created and when Rion and Tair finally have a moment to sit and talk that voice comes through loud and clear. After a slow start that was essentially two separate #1 issues the narrative gets rolling when the two meet and their powers ignite. They are not warriors or brave rebels, these two have lived their lives in forced labor and escaped only due to a pull from the deepest recesses of their mind. With this in mind I really liked the way this first flight plays out and the subsequent quiet moment that follows. All of it felt very real, characters acting and speaking in an identifiable way. The mix of fear and wonder makes both of them instantly endearing. This issue also marks the beginning of the mystery behind not just them but the last few hundred years of their world and the tribute that was payed to the gods in the first issue.
I know art is subjective but I have personally be in love with Jonathan Luna’s pencils since I read Girls years ago. He has an incredibly unique style that is simple while still conveying emotion and story though the art. The panel work will often use a series of images that repeat except for small details that catch the readers eye as events proceed. It is a subtle effect that makes his art stand out from the crowd, and a welcome one at that. My only critique is the same I have had since the series started, that is the fact that the scenes set at night are incredibly dark and hard to see. I think this book is one of the must read creator owned titles on shelves right now. The art is fantastic and the slow build of the story is getting its hooks into me.