With this issue of Umbral, Antony Johnston really starts delving deep into the mythology of this world, and it yields excellent results. Yes, this was a bit of an information-dump, but it was depicted in an exciting way, and it’s all in service of an exciting, present-day narrative.
The story begins with the Umbral Jinglefingers and Prince Arthir rallying their forces to track down Rascal, and finding out that she’s hidden in a pub somewhere. At that pub, Rascal is stuck between Shayim and Munty, who are of course members of two warring races. She’s able to calm them down, and show Munty the Oculus (and no, it hasn’t been bought by Facebook) which leads to him telling us some of the legend behind the Umbral. But Rascal and Shayim aren’t the only ones, as a mysterious hooded figure has snuck up behind Redbeard to listen in at their door.
The legend Munty tells is very interesting indeed. Back in the day, the world was split into 2 continents, and each was ruled by one of the divine brothers, and they were at peace. But there was a 3rd brother, Umbrith, who ruled the underworld, which was called Umbral. He tricked his brothers into warring with each other, and then, when they were exhausted, he attacked them with shadow creatures. The good brothers sacrificed themselves to stop Umbrith, and they vanished, but not before creating a huge mountain called ‘The Peak’, full of the magical stones known as ‘Mist’.
The story then moves on to the discovery of a powerful piece of mist by a Profoss called ‘Culin’, who used it to become incredibly powerful and rule the world for 500 years and make everyone worship the Umbral. He was eventually driven mad and started ‘The Shadow War’, before being stopped by a warrior called ‘Strakan’. These myths explain why the country Rascal lives in has outlawed magic and religion, and heck, it now looks like they aren’t myths, but reality.
It also seems like there’s a lot more to them, as the mysterious hooded figure is discovered and revealed to be… Dalone! It looked like he was dead, but nope, and he’s not an Umbral either. Dalone says that he knows the real truths behind these stories, so it’s going to be very interesting to see what’s real and what isn’t.
Christopher Mitten adjusts his art-style for these legends, and so does colourist Jordan Boyd, and it has excellent results. These pages and panels look like an illuminated manuscript from an ancient tome. The issue ends with Arthir and his goons bursting into the Tavern and making their way to the room, but luckily, everyone is able to escape… but unluckily, only to the next room!
This series had a lot of tantalising mysteries, and now that we’ve got some answers, they’ve only got more and more gripping. This was probably the best issue of Umbral yet, I can’t wait to see what happens next, and also what happened before. Does that make sense?