A Different type of Fantasy
As far as Fantasy comic books go I’d consider myself a concerted newcomer. As for Fantasy novels, I’d consider myself a veteran consumer. Sure there’s the entry level genre takes of Lord of the Rings and Lion, Witch and a Wardrobe. But then there’s the modern epics like Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones. Broken Bear sits somewhere between the two.
Broken Bear - Graphic Novel
Writers Frankee White and Adam Markiewicz spend the entire graphic novel world building a not sofantasy landscape. Depicting a world uninhabitable for women. A world so uninhabitable that we see as many as three female characters in the entire story. Sarcasm intended. A world overrun by too many horrors intent on killing you. Dark and morbid with very little light on the horizon.
One Woman Wrecking Ball
The book is the first part to an ongoing saga of One woman versus a Patriatchy of fantastical demonic creatures. The protagonist, Selm, is a one woman wrecking ball of human insecurity, strength and volatility. While Selm is as much the cause of triumphant victory when she takes the blade to her enemy’s throats. She is also the direct antagonist for things going horribly wrong. No remorse. No regret. Selm is an oppressed woman. Vindictive on carrying out her own brand of justice.
Broken Bear kicks off the story with a rough around the edges Knight and his squire, Selm. As they trudge through a monster infested swamp, eventually coming across a creepy witch’s home. The witch tempts Selm with taking power while Bear is unawares. She does so, killing him swiftly, with a stab to the jugular.
A series of panels precedes this. Where Bear first found Selm in a fallen village. Whether the motivation behind her treachery is due to Bear being the cause of her village burning down is unclear. Perhaps in the next graphic novel?
Journey to the Underworld
What follows next is a snowball effect of environmental circumstance. Selm battles a swamp monster, saves a pair of Orks, slays an underworld despot. And that’s all just to start with. But what interests me the most is the mistakes in Selm’s decision making process. A quality often washed over or ignored by too many fantasy writers.
The illustration of Broken Bear is on point with the depravity in this story that White and Markiewicz tell. The style is unlike your A typical comic book and more akin to a children’s fable. Adding to the uncomfortable tonality you feel with each body count. The less than perfect line work has as much character as the less than style life choices made by our anti-heroine.
If you’re looking for a fantasy comic book that defies the normal tropes. While opting for three dimensional creatures of the dark instead of your usual man versus orc diatribe. And an anti heroic female protagonist in place of your usual white knight paladin. Then you’ve found your book.