Dryad #1 is published by Oni Press. It comes from the creative team of writer Kurtis Wiebe, and artist Justin Osterling. This issue begins with a man, named Yale, changing his child’s diaper. Soon, the deed is done and the two resume their trek to find his wife Morgan. Despite facing some unknown peril, Yale and Morgan find the subject of their travels. That is, a small secluded village surrounded by dense forests and mountains. The story then shifts forward thirteen years. The family has settled. Yale and Morgan, as well as their children Rana and Griffon, live relatively peaceful lives. But the past has a way of coming back to haunt people, and sure enough Yale and Morgan find it comes for them as well.
With Dryad #1 Wiebe returns to comics with his first project since he ended his tenure on Rat Queens. Though this new series is also high fantasy, the two series couldn’t be more different. Where the Queens are crass, vulgar, and violent, the family in Dryad lives a much more reserved life. This is by no means a negative though, as the focus of the story is less the fantasy and more the people.
With this series Wiebe does a phenomenal job of portraying a happily married couple who love each other deeply even if their lives aren’t exactly what they’d hoped for. It is far too seldom that fantasy focuses on happy relationships and as such this issue was very refreshing. The way Morgan and Yale interact feels genuine and is fun to read. A lot of this can be attributed to little things. Like when Morgan fears they’ll come into contact with “large cats”, and later Yale references back to it to calm her. These types of interactions help to create a believable relationship for the reader to latch onto. Meanwhile, their children seem bound and determined to turn this story into a traditional RPG. By the end a new wrinkle has been added to the narrative, and I’m definitely interested in seeing how it develops.
Osterling’s artwork is lovely, and nearly every page radiates with a warmth and coziness that perfectly matches the story. There are a few spots where the action is a little difficult to follow. Such as a monster’s untimely death by arrow that’s just a littl too difficult to see at first. If the panel weren’t so close to the action it would be easier to see. However, despite this minor complaint, it’s never enough to detract from the overall work.
I wasn’t sure what to expect before I started reading this series. But given Wiebe’s reputation from his previous series I had high hopes. I can safely say that this issue lived up to them. Wiebe writes these characters with a familiarity that is uncommon in the first issue of a series. In Dryad #1, every interaction is believable, and by the end I found myself deeply invested in the Glass family. If you’re a fan of high fantasy, albeit with a little heavier focus on the interpersonal side, then this is a great series for you.
In Dryad #1, every interaction is believable, and by the end I found myself deeply invested in the Glass family. If you’re a fan of high fantasy, albeit with a little heavier focus on the interpersonal side, then this is a great series for you.