Just an average day at the bar

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

This issue our heroes find some allies, we find out what the deal is with Barrow’s ghost, and Jodan is still up to mysterious things. As usual it’s a packed out issue filled with daring heroes alongside the staff of Quests Aside. It’s a fun and interesting issue and it’s nice to see some more characters appearing at Quests Aside and the external perspective is really helpful for Barrow’s character in particular.

We open with the surprise that The Scorpion Trust are now the owners of Quests Aside. They appear in a handy introductory page that shows off the different character designs and let’s us know who they are and what they do. They consist of: Yartiel, the leader, wearing the traditional fantasy female warrior trope leather bikini with chainmail extras. Then there’s Agelada priestess of the cattle goddess, who is basically a humanoid cow with cute tiny glasses. Niri, the monk does what most fantasy monks do which is pray for peace but also kicks ass. And finally there’s Palmo the Riddler who fits neatly into the swashbuckling suave guy stereotype. So, yes, these guys seem a lot more competent than the gang we know and love.

So, how have they ended up owning Quests Aside? Well luckily our friend the Bard narrates the flashback tale. It’s a classic storytelling device and as usual Quests Aside really plays into it’s RPG tropes which have worked very successfully so far. We see the joyous celebration The Scorpion Trust indulged in as they recounted their latest successful quest. They seem to be having fun but they know it can’t last forever.

So, obviously, they want to buy a bar. I love how the actually proposition takes place in the privies.

Meanwhile Jodan is up to several things. He seems to be the only one who realises the gravity of the situation with the king. however he has other thigs to worry about such as asking Zuzanna to date him and sneaking off to a cave to have magic lessons with what looks like a pretty evil being. Of all the character Jodan has my favourite facial expressions I’ve got to say. From panic to hope to sheepishness to determination they are so expressive. It’s a strength of the art.

We also get more background on Vail and her past was rather surprising (so no spoilers here). I really liked the way her past flashback was drawn and coloured with the lettering flowing like the song it was meant to represent. It definitely gives that story via a song feel. Again it’s these touches that just make the fantasy worldbuilding work so well.

As a result it doesn’t matter that it’s a good half way into the issue before we revisit the battle between The Scorpion Trust and the mercenaries sent by the king. The actual fight is over pretty quickly. The art keeps the action moving and is well done with sword parries and maces swung around doing damage. It’s also nice that this is all incidental to the excellent character work.

For later we see Yartiel speaking to Barrow and we finally find out that yes the ghost Barrow sees is a younger idealised version of himself and yes it is a curse. I have been pondering what exactly the ghost was but now we have the answer. I really like how that was revealed as Yartiel and Barrow try to one up each their on the curses they suffer (I still say Yartiel’s curse of being unable to eat strawberries is still pretty horrific).

That’s what I love most about Quests Aside, the characters. Those characters who are likeable yet have have flaws and are interesting and all have their own struggles. Quests Aside is the focal point for their stories and they are told so well. I want to see where the stories lead next as this issue ends with the potential for some very serious trouble next issue.

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