REVIEW: ‘Dryad,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dryad Volume 1 - But Why Tho?Dryad Volume 1 is published by Oni Press, written by Kurtis Wiebe, art by Justin Barcelo, colors by Justin Barcelo, Meg Casey, and Francesco Segala with letters by Jim Campbell. In the sleepy village of Frostbrook, the people live simple lives. Elves and humans till the soil and make things work. Until one day, two particular residents have an abrupt reunion with their old lives. And their world, more specifically their children’s world, will never be the same.

Dryad Volume 1 introduces readers to what initially appears to be a quaint little fantasy town. With residents comprised of humans and elves, and the odd monster showing up in the nearby ruins of an ancient magical race, everything seems much like the standard fantasy setting. That is until Yale and Morgan’s past catch up to them.

Yale and Morgan appeared in Frostbrook 12 years ago bearing two children on their backs and little else to their names. Having found work in the sleepy town as an educator and protector respectively, they have carved happy niches out for themselves. But one day, their sleepy little hamlet is beset by strange intruders bearing glowing eyes and odd metallic lighting weapons. Or, if you prefer, night vision goggles and blaster rifles. As it turns out, Frostbrook isn’t part of a strictly fantasy setting like it first appears.

Dryad Volume 1 quickly reveals the world outside this cozy little village is far more cyberpunk than it is Tolkien. And while Yale and Morgan are well aware of this truth, they fled from it, after all, it is a truth they have failed to mention to their two children Rana and Griffon. But these truths are ones the children will have to adapt to quickly. The intruders soon recognize their parents and the family is forced to move to a far more urban area.

No sooner does the family’s aircraft enter the airspace of the megacity Silver Bay then trouble finds them. Before long, the family is on the run in a world that is familiar to some of them, while completely alien to others. It’s time for some extreme family bonding.

Dryad Volume 1 does an excellent job delivering it’s duel settings. There is a quaint village in the first issue and then a rapid change to the ultra-futuristic. Writer Wiebe does a good job giving the reader enough information so they have the gist of what’s going on, while neither drowning the story in exposition nor killing the air of mystery surrounding why Yale and Morgan left.

Wiebe also does an excellent job handling the characters in the story itself. Despite the fairly fast pace the story sets after issue one, we still get plenty of small moments that flesh out the main cast well. And while the main characters are all likable, they are also allowed their flaws. This offers each character a more fleshed-out feeling.

The art in Dryad Volume 1 also does a great job moving from setting to setting. Artist Barcelo delivers a great fantasy aesthetic while it lasts, and then smoothly takes the visual into a true cyberpunk look. The only thing holding back the design from being great is the fact that it does come off a bit generic. It delivers the feeling of each setting quite well, but doesn’t do anything that makes either stand out from the crowd of their respective genres.

The color work furthers the great contrast between the two sides of this narrative coin. The strong earthy tones of the early story are replaced by vibrant neons and hard steel colorings that the dystopian cyberpunk genre is known for.

Rounding out the presentation here is a solid lettering job by Campbell. The lettering flows along nicely, as it conveys the story in a clear and easy-to-follow manner.

When all is said and done, Dryad Volume #1 packs a lot of well-delivered story into its pages. With a likable cast and a well-presented setting, Silver Bay’s mysteries seem well worth learning more about.

Dryad Volume 1 is available January 6th wherever comics are sold.


Dryad Volume 1
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TL;DR

Dryad Volume 1 packs a lot of well-delivered story into its pages. With a likable cast and a well-presented setting, Silver Bay’s mysteries seem well worth learning more about.