Night’s Dominion #1
Written & Illustrated by Ted Naifeh
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
Edited by Robin Herrera
Designed by Keith Wood
Publisher: Oni Press
Night’s Dominion wasn’t on my radar until a post by a fellow member of the Comic Book Art of Conan the Barbarian Facebook group posted an interview with the creator, Ted Naifeh. The elevator pitch seemed to be superheroes operating in a fantasy world. I thought the concept sounded fairly interesting and the artwork showcased in the interview really sold me on giving it a try. I made sure to add the book to my pull list at my local comic shop. The release of the first issue kind of snuck up on me, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it came out this week.
As far as first issues go, this one was pretty solid. We’re introduced to the cast of characters as well as the setting, the medieval-styled city of Umber. I get the impression Umber is a sister city of Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar and Sanctuary, the primary setting of the Thieves’ World shared universe series.
The first issue does a good job of blending both the fantasy genre and super hero genre (or, at least so far, the urban vigilante sub-genre) together. It introduces us to the main characters via the “adventuring party meets at a tavern or inn” mechanism sometimes used in fantasy role-playing games. While not the most original way to do it, it’s definitely the most convenient way to bring a large, diverse group of characters together quickly.
Members of the party include its leader, a white-haired bard referred to as Maestro, an unnamed “magus” whose specialty is implied to be illusions and parlor tricks, a unnamed young cleric, who is an acolyte of something referred to as the Old Faith, an unnamed assassin from an organization known as the House of the Asps, and the barmaid, Emerane, who is secretly the best thief in the city, moonlighting under the alter ego of the Night.
The Maestro’s plan is for the group to rob the Tower of Uhlume, a temple where the titular King of Oblivion is worshiped. They plan to get to the treasure stores in the tower’s subbasement via a concealed shaft.
Emerane declines the job stating she doesn’t work with amateurs. She leaves the tavern after a brawl erupts, but her and the assassin have a brief martial encounter on her way home and a conversation. But Emerane departs soundlessly, leaving the assassin alone.
Later in the guise of the Night, Emerane returns a necklace to her stash of stolen loot in the belfry of a chapel and encounters the Fury. He’s the armored Batman-looking figure seen in the preview artwork. They have a brief tussle and conversation before Emerane eludes him. I get a definite Batman and Catwoman vibe from these two. It’s not clear if the Fury is a vigilante or works in some capacity with the government or city watch, but I look forward to learning more about him in future issues.
The next scene shows the cleric returning to his chapel, this is the same one which the Night used as a stash for her loot. City guards are confiscating the hoard as the head priest is crying on the steps. It was mentioned earlier that the Old Faith was hard up for money and it was goons looking to collect from the young cleric that were the catalysts of the tavern brawl.
The final scene shows Emerane, as the Night, meeting the group of adventurers at the arranged meeting spot and agreeing to join in the heist.
This was my first time reading a comic created by Ted Naifeh, but I have to admit, I like what I see. I enjoy the way he renders his characters and his panel to panel storytelling skills shown he’s been illustrating sequential art for some time. The artwork and storytelling get high marks from me.
From a writing perspective, I enjoyed how there wasn’t a lot of info dumping, Naifeh does a good job of layering information subtlety through the course of the story. Such as facts about the politics of Umber, including its royal family. There’s plenty yet to be revealed about the city of Umber and the main cast of characters, though.
This first issue has me intrigued, and I’m on board for at least the first six issues. I wish there were more fantasy comics like this on the stands and I want to do my part in supporting quality comics like this when they do pop up.