Beyond Avalon #1

Written by Joe Pruett
Art by Goran Sudzuka
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

One of the most popular myths and legends still being used in popular entertainment has got to be that of King Arthur. It’s hard to not know anything of Arthur, Camelot, and the Knights of the Round Table. When Beyond Avalon was announced, I was both intrigued and worried because the creators sounded promising, but did we really need another sequel to the stories of King Arthur?

In the paradise realm of Avalon, Megan is a unique individual. She is the only person who was ever born there, though the effort resulted in the death of her mother. In a land where nothing is ever supposed to be able to change, both are strictly impossibilities. Now her father, King Arthur, has decided to leave Avalon, and Megan will venture through Avalon’s mists after him. But is someone who has only known Avalon their entire life ready for the reality of the worlds beyond Avalon’s boundaries?

Megan is an odd choice of protagonist for a series. This is a character innocent enough that she’s never seen rain before, still refers to King Arthur as “Daddy”, and uses “oh pooh” to signal annoyance. Megan’s a character that is going to need to adapt quickly to the worlds she’s about to travel, because even just interacting with adversity in Avalon her ultra-innocent nature is already a little irritating. In some ways Megan has the same problems as a new character on the television program Doctor Who had in the mid-’60s, when the producers suddenly realized that a character originally from the Trojan War was too innocent in the ways of technology to remain a viable regular; when you have to explain something as simple as a key, it can be a serious storytelling obstacle. It’ll be interesting to see just what path Joe Pruett ends up taking with her; it’s going to be a tricky road to keep the spirit of the character as presented while not turning off readers.

While the main character may not really be to my liking, I am more impressed with Goran Sudzuka’s art for the book. I loved Sudzuka’s work on the short-lived book Outlaw Nation and it’s great to see his art once again. Sudzuka has a clean, open art style that draws characters with a minimum of lines, leaving his pages with and uncluttered and classic look. Sudzuka does a nice job of bringing the characters to life; little things like Megan’s sense of wonder on her face as she finds her sword in the waters of Avalon, or calm curiosity as she looks through the mists come across with great ease thanks to Sudzuka’s illustrations.

It’s a little hard to judge where Beyond Avalon will go from here. Pruett and Sudzuka have a lot of options for where they can take the series, and hopefully they’ll find a good approach that can entertain without falling into some of the more obvious pitfalls. Based on this first issue it’s very much in the “we’ll see” camp; hopefully future installments will help solidify its destiny.

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