Best-selling writer Kurtis Wiebe (Rat Queens) and newcomer artist Justin Osterling launch a new fantasy saga! The Glass family has spent thirteen years hiding peacefully in the sleepy forest settlement of Frostbrook where Morgan and Yale planted roots and raised their twins, Griffon and Rana. But secrets never stay hidden, and the entire Glass family find themselves the target of an unearthly attack on Frostbrook. Now on the run from Muse Corp., they must flee to the massive city of Silver’s Bay to hide in plain sight. Rana and Griffon find themselves uprooted and answering for their parents’ mistakes. But, they’ll soon find that the past has a way of finding you, no matter where you run.
One of my favourite comedians Patrice O’Neal one said lies are brutal. At the heart of Dryad are the lies that parents tell their children to protect them and what happens when the truth is shocking revealed. Dryad has all the ingredients for a superb fantasy comic. Weibe’s characters are charming, well rounded, and, despite the elf ears believable. Something has driven Morgan and Yale to seek refuge in the isolated village of Frostbrook. Morgan and Yale have many lovely character moments centred around the affection they feel for each and how they both struggle with the demands of parenthood differently. Weibe’s dialogue is often witty and for the most part, engaging. Barcelo Osterling’s art is sumptuous. For me, it is somewhat reminiscent of Joe Madureira illustrations in Battlechasers with its thickly inked lines. The battle scenes have are dynamic and easy to follow.
However, as with a lot of ongoing series, there are problems with pacing. There are obvious big reveals and explanations that are being held back for future issues. This is fine, but in Dryad’s case, there were moments that I felt that this was being done artificially, e.g. we will talk about it later. The other fault I found was that as more and more characters are introduced into our heroes’ lives, I found myself a bit lost as to where everyone’s loyalties lay. A common criticism of fantasy stories is the number of factions and world-building jargon thrown at a reader with the expectation that they remember it. I think this a fair criticism that Dryads was guilty of. This is an enjoyable and diverting read but is not one that lingered with me as the very best fantasy stories do. It is somehow less than the sum of its parts.
There is a lot to like here, and while Dryad doesn’t quite reach the heights of Montress or Saga, this is a very, very good comic. Wiebe and Barcelo Osterling have set an impressive stage for what could be comic books next grand fantasy adventure story.