Publisher: Vault
Writer: Brian Schirmer
Artist: Elena Gogou
Colourist: Rebecca Nalty
Letterer: Andworld Design

Quests Aside is becoming a very reliable, comedy, fantasy with some solid character work. This issue Ray and Zuzanna break up, Ray learns something about free will, Barrow takes on an apprentice and danger approaches. It’s quite the packed issue, but as always the pace zips along and there’s the usual humour in between flashbacks, exposition and character insights. It’s a really good blend.

Following a bar fight (and at Quests Aside the bar fights happen with regularity) Barrow’s ghost encourages him to take on the young man at the centre of it, Tavin, as an apprentice. Mira has her doubts about Barrow’s motives, and the segue from Barrow telling Tavin he’s going to train him to the conversation with Mira is very well done, in which she also brings up the fact that the King wants to shut down Quests Aside. Barrow refuses to be paid off by the King so there’s trouble afoot. Barrow’s not revealed what’s really going on to his employees either.

There is a really great montage of Barrow training Tavin, and I love a good training montage. Each panel covers a day and with five days altogether. We get to see the start of the day and the end. There’s a really great mix from sword fighting and hand to hand combat to jumping off the tavern. It’s a really dynamic and interesting portion of the issue and art wise probably my favourite part. It was just so much fun and so different.

In terms of plot I have to say anything involving Ray was my favourite. He’s probably my favourite character because, well, he’s a talking skeleton. His relationship with Zuzanna has been bubbling away the last couple of issues but here we get the (literal) jaw dropping moment of their breakup. We see a flashback to when they first met but ultimately they split up this issue. It’s interesting that there is quite an emotional feeling behind it, a good sign of how well the characters have been established to this point.

Yet there is still more to learn. When a necromancer shows up we find out exactly what makes Ray stand out from, you know, all the other resurrected corpses and skeletons. The fact the backstory is so well woven into the main plot with real humour is what I do love about Quests Aside. The segues are neat and natural. It flows like a good tale should and that fits well with the whole fantasy setting.

I also really love the little background details. For example in the bar as Zuzanna is talking to Ray we get an entire background scene where a man announces he needs some people to join him on a quest to slay a vampire. It’s a whole little humorous story played out whilst major plot stuff is going on but it’s a fun little aside and doesn’t take anything away from the main plot. We even get an impression of things going on in the background as Barrow talks to Mira. It’s these details which really bring it all to life.

I also love the more humorous little details like Clive the Cleaver and his attitude. He nearly stole the show for me at several points. Then in a flashback Barrow explains to Zuzanna that the weapons on the walls can only be taken down by employees. There are such nice little plays on common fantasy tropes which is what makes Quests Aside such a fun read. For me I’m enjoying each issue more and more as I get to know the characters better.

The issue ends on something of a perilous cliffhanger. It was something that I saw coming but now I need to see how the characters can get out of it. There’ still plenty of questions to be answered. I know there will be plenty of humour along the way mixed in with action and drama, but still I look forward to seeing how our heroes will face this next peril.

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