ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Echolands,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Echolands

Echolands #1 is published by Image Comics, written by J. H. Williams III and  W. Haden Blackman, art by J. H. Williams III, colors by Dave Stewart, and letters by Todd Klein. In a fantasy world, a thief cloaked in red makes off with a trinket she thinks can be sold to feed her and her friends. What she doesn’t know is that she has lifted more than a mere trinket. And its owner is willing to do much to see it returned.

After a brief introduction to the history of our protagonist Hope, through her own words no less, Echolands #1 dives headlong into its story, deciding to focus on letting the reader get a feel for the characters and leave the world-building of this unique looking fantasy setting for later. This approach works well, as it focuses the reader’s initial impressions on the characters of Hope and her friend/accomplice Cor. Getting the reader invested in the characters helps build that critical connection to the world that makes the reader want to learn more about a new story in a whole new setting.

The story is short and sweet, leaving Hope in a fairly dire situation at its endpoint. I say short because the final eight pages of the book are diverted to other materials. The first four of these provide the beginning of a fictional interview with a background figure of importance to the story. I enjoyed this mock interview and felt like it was an appropriate way to introduce the character and build out a sense of some of Echolands #1′s world.

The final four pages of this book are spent presenting a playlist of albums writer/artist Williams listened to while working on the book. While the story manages to get to a solid ending as is, I can’t help but think that those four pages could’ve been spent building out the story in this all-important inaugural issue.

The art in Echolands #1 delivers some interesting visuals to go with this original fantasy world. The art rarely adheres to the traditional layouts of comic books, opting instead for inserting and overlaying panels in big double-page layouts that are only occasionally confusing to follow.

Also, this issue is presented in a landscape format instead of the traditional portrait format. It is an interesting idea that enables the panel set up to do long runs across the book’s length. It gives the story a fluidity that enhances the story’s feel.

The art in Echolands #1 works well to bring its characters, as well as the sights that surround them, to life. While there are a couple of spots where the art gets a bit busy, overall, it does a great job of delivering its story.

Building upon the lines in this book is the wonderful colors. The colors are all vibrant, allowing the images to pop nicely in the panels. This is especially true for Hope. Draped in a bright red cloak, her presence on the page is impossible to miss.

Wrapping up the story’s presentation is the letters. This story is fairly dialogue-light, so it is an easy task to keep things flowing smoothly and keep the dialogue out of the way of the art.

When all is said and done, Echolands #1 provides an interesting first look at an intriguing fantasy world. While I wish some of the book may have been better utilized, all in all, it delivers something that leaves me feeling like Hope’s story could have real promise to it.

Echolands #1 is available on August 25th, wherever comics are sold.


Echolands #1
3.5

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Echolands #1 provides an interesting first look at an intriguing fantasy world. While I wish some of the book may have been better utilized, all in all, it delivers something that leaves me feeling like Hope’s story could have real promise to it.