by Sloane Leong, Claire Gibson, and Marian Churchland
There is something rather intriguing about From Under Mountains #1, and it is quite apparent from the very start. This new series from Claire Gibson, Sloane Leong and Marian Churchland presents a very intricate new world filled with subtle moments to build out so much of its universe and diverse characters. At the core, however, is something fantastical and mysterious.
The end of the story, its final two pages in fact, really play a great role at providing a lens or scope to the scale that the creators have in mind for this new series. As the book wraps, the creators present readers with a full map of the world, including numerous cities and the geography of the land. It acts as both a tease and insight into how large the story will be and all the places it intends to take its characters. The decision to include such a piece is an excellent complementary aspect to the structure of this issue. The story, credited to Gibson and Churchland, is almost sparse in this first chapter. That is not a knock on the craft of the issue, so much as it is a commentary on what is meant by story, or some type of linear plot. Instead, the opening to From Under Mountains spends its time introducing a number of pieces with the promise of tale that looks to be quite grand.
The story’s opening, alone, is incredibly strange. Without it, the tone of the story and the way in which the reader understands the world would be dramatically different. It raises a number of questions about the rules of this universe, about what is possible and what might happen. Readers witness a cloaked woman perform some spell, conjuring a spirit and whispering to it. The events are preceded by dialogue that is particularly ominous. Over the course of the issue, readers meet a number of different characters, and in doing so, also interact with various environments, cultures and even classes. Each scene, be it with royalty or lowly thieves, offers another piece of the world.
The trade for a focused first issue is the size that is conveyed through these choices. To complement, Sloan Leong is able to capture the diversity in the art. Leong makes careful decisions, from the texture and makeup of the buildings to the garb of the characters. Through both the script and the visuals in From Under Mountains, the creative team is able to provide a very rich first chapter.
While the first issue does not focus on any one of its settings or characters for very long, this vignette-type approach along with the map of Akhar to close out the issue certainly suggests that the creators have much in store for readers. From Under Mountains #1 has only just scratched the surface, it seems, and with what readers already have witnessed here it is exciting to imagine what lies ahead.