September 5, 2014

, ,   |  

Rose City Roll Call 2014: Leia Weathington and Bold Riley 2.2

Rose City Roll Call! Cambot! Gypsy! Tom Servo! Croooooow! Periscope! Dark Horse! Kurt Busiek! Ooooooooooonnnnni! It's another Panel Patter feature on creators and publishers who will be at Rose City Comic Con! You can find all our features for the show right here!

When I first read Leia's Bold Riley series, I was blown away by how she'd managed to take everything that was good about sword and sorcery tales, throw out the bad, and use a female, queer person of color as the main protagonist at the same time. That's no easy feat, as many lesser writers end up making the story about how different the protagonist is.

Not Weathington's style. Instead, she plows ahead, throwing Riley into the same sorts of weird adventures Robert E. Howard might concoct, allowing her character to live and breathe as her own person, rather than "Oh look at what I've done here!" Characters who do something will always trump characters who react to something, and Weathington gets that.

Leia will be at Rose City Comic-Con this year and is even listed as a feature guest, which is awesome. She should have the first trade (review here) and of course single issues of the second volume, which may have its third issue out by the time of the show.

If if you don't get to pick up issue three, issue one (review here) was excellent, and issue two is no exception.

The art this time is by Zack Giallongo, who uses either watercolors or a program that imitates them very well. That means that we already get a different take on Riley and her world, because the nature of the coloring allows the nature of reality to be more blurred. Once again showing how well Leia understands her artists, the plot of this issue takes full advantage of this. Riley continues on, still feeling empty after the death of her lover back in volume one. She meets an old woman who offers her shelter against the storm, only to find that inside the hut secrets are woven together, leaving her trapped in the threads.

It's a great issue, which is no surprise at this point. Anyone who reads these type of stories knows that the old woman is going to be more than just a simple weaver, and the dialogue between her and Riley is note-perfect, with the respectful terms, the sarcastic description of Riley's violent acts, and the fact that anyone magical can put the bold adventurer back on her heels, if only for a moment.

There's also a great callback to one of my favorite characters in the first set of stories, showing that Riley may have some greater forces stacked against her than she originally planned. This issue opens up the possibility of more than just a wandering woman fighting stuff, which adds another layer to an already awesome concept.

Giallongo's art really works well here. His Riley is a little less powerful looking, because she spends most of the time in a coat, allowing her to pull off the innocent act. I absolutely love the emotions that play across her face, too. He's not afraid to go big with them exaggerating a bit to get the needed effect. This really felt like the slightly arrogant, confident woman who rode off at the beginning of the first book, whose emotions change depending on the situation.

By the time we get to the action, there's a great switch in the art style from realistic to doubting the reality of the situation. Anatomy goes out the window, as Riley is pushed and pulled across a canvas, taking on creatures and getting words of advice/caution from a chorus of birds. Is it real? Did she smoke too much? What does it mean? We don't know yet, and part of the reason is because the art shifts to add to the confusion.

At the end, Riley moves on, taking a few trinkets with her, ready to go to her next adventure. I'm really hoping I get to read it soon, as it has the lovely art from Joanna Estep that I've been looking forward to since the Kickstarter.

If you like fantasy comics at all, or grew up cutting your teeth on Conan and similar stories, make sure you see Leia at Rose City this year!

Can't make Rose City? You can find Leia on the web here, with a link to her Bold Riley work.