Independently Well Done highlights completed and/or noteworthy story-arcs published by indie and small press creators.
Written By: Hannah Christenson
Art By: Hannah Christenson
Published: February 17, 2016
I mentioned in the first post of this series that I came across this series by accident. I wasn’t searching for it, nor did I even know of its existence prior to my discovery. What I didn’t mention in that story was how long these comics sat on my reading shelf, after purchasing them, before I cracked open the first page. I’m somewhat notorious for having a ridiculous reading pile. I’ve posted pics of it on Instagram and Twitter. To call it huge is an understatement, but it serves its purpose. I often binge series, and letting some comics pile up fuels the moments when I submerge into a series. I mention all of this because with Storyteller, this is the first time I’ve regretted letting comics pile up. I wish, oh man do I wish, I would’ve read these the minute I picked them up. Now that I have taken the plunge however, there’s no chance I will not be snatching these books up as they hit the shelves.
There’s part of me that can understand how people would miss such great comics…heck I did and I have an addiction to these things. Jim Henson is a world famous name, but not necessarily within the comic book industry. The idea of doing an entire series on the lore, or fairy tales surrounding a particular mythological creature also has its appeal, but within comics, fantasy doesn’t always translate well. There have been plenty of books that sounded good in Previews, but once I’ve cracked the first couple of pages the eye rolling starts, and off to another book I go. All of that however, cannot be further from my experience with this series, and more specifically, with Story Three of Four.
I’m singling the third book out in the series because it takes all the popular Medieval tones and feelings one usually conjures up when the word “dragon” is mentioned, and executes it with perfection. After reading this, and giving it a little time to breathe in my mind, I dare say that this fits in the top five best fantasy comics I’ve ever read.
Yes, I’m willing to make that statement. This third issue of Storyteller Dragons, easily slides into the best fantasy comics I’ve ever read, and further still, this is a single one shot story. Please grasp what I’m laying down here. With nothing more than one book, one story, from beginning to end, this book trumps dozens, maybe hundreds of fantasy comics I’ve read.
Now, I’m not one to put things down, and I’m honestly not saying other fantasy comics I’ve read are bad, it’s just this one is so damn great. From a writing standpoint alone, ignoring how great the art is within these pages, what Christenson does with 22 pages is unbelievable. To be able to build a connection with the main character, establish the world in which she lives, introduce the main conflict, build a hatred of the antagonist, and resolve all that needs to be resolved without feeling rushed or watered down is incredible.
This story, which I’ll break down shortly, feels so complete that it literally changed my view of one-shots. I’m not fond of them, I typically feel like they’re a money grab from publishers. I’ve never really read one wherein I feel satisfied or that the story was relevant to…well…anything. Yet, with this series, and specifically this particular issue, my feelings have changed. Why? Because after seeing what Christenson does with 22 pages, I honestly believe that good…no, great, stories can be told in single issues.
So, I’ve blathered on about how life changing this book has been for me, how about I give you a breakdown?
In the third installment of Storyteller Dragons we follow the life of a warrior woman named Albina Popovich. As the story goes, she was born during a storm greater than all storms prior. Earth shattering thunder crumbled mountains to the ground and leveled towns, and from childhood to adulthood Albina was stronger, faster, and more cunning than anyone else.
As one would assume from this point, Albina found her place, her calling, in battle. A place where her abilities could sore, and she could hold nothing back. After one such battle our girl Albina returned home, greeting her parents with a smile and a kiss. Unfortunately, battle was in her blood and after a short time, the absence of her sword an armor drove her need to find purpose once more. She set out to find a lord which she could pledge her service. Before leaving her parents asked that she not travel alone, and thus we’re introduced to her traveling companion Mara.
From this point Albina and Mara set out to find a particular prince, Kiev, to which they could serve. Once arriving in his lands they’re greeted with smiles, mostly because Albina is a superstar warrior, and thus taken to prince Kiev immediately. A feast is thrown, festivities are had, and it’s at this point when our dragon arrives.
This dragon in particular is a shapeshifter, and a devilish character. He’s rude, prideful, arrogant and nasty, all of which Albina and Mara will not tolerate. Some words are exchanged, a few fists and swings of the sword are thrown, and a nice battle ensues. Of course, I’m not going to spoil it, but I will say that this first encounter with the dragon is not the last in the story. What takes place from this point on is truly satisfying, and the solidification of the characters is nothing short of remarkable.
As I have with each of these book, I urge you to check them out. They’re available on ComiXology, and I cannot give these enough praise. They’re fun, beautiful to look at, the stories are spectacular, and each delivers something special.