Picture Jon Bernthal or Bruce Willis circa 1988 roaming the streets of post-apocalyptic America, toting Dirty Harry’s .357, and a broadsword usually held in the hands of Aragorn, and you’ll have the cover of the first issue of The Realm (Image). Created by Jeremy Haun (The Beauty) & Seth M. Peck (X-MEN), colors by Nick Filardi and letters by Thomas Mauer, The Realm is every nerd’s dream written within a comic book.
On the surface, The Realm combines elements from The Terminator, Mad Max, and Lord of the Rings where dragons rule the skies, and orc-like creatures hunt humans for food. In one respect it could seem a little self-serving to toss all these genres into one bowl, but isn’t that why creator-controlled publishers came into existence. So the creators can tell their stories? And for us to enjoy them? And for fans of all those pop culture references, it was a blast seeing them melded perfectly here. For Peck and Haun, It’s no different than a film director taking elements of his/her favorite genres and making a movie filled with those influences. See Rian Johnson.
According to an owner of my local comic shop, The Realm has been extremely popular with readers, and after reading the first two issues, I can see why. Not only do we get to see many of our favorite genres represented, but it’s the calculated placement that makes it so successful. Not haphazardly strewn about; each element serves a purpose in the story. Within the first two pages we encounter an unknown flying beast, which is identified later as a Drake, but instead of outright showing them, Haun shows us the facial expressions of Will Nolan, and his bounty, Sasha. It’s the little things like this that separate the best writing and art from the mediocre.
The Realm centers around Will Nolan, who, after a decade-long war, is a bounty hunter type who provides his services to retrieve bounty’s or in one particular case, escort a pair of survivors (Molly and Lazslo) and two doctors (David and Dr. Burke), across the country. The Realm is not lacking on gore and violence, with elements of dark magic, human sacrifice, and demonic visuals there’s no doubt that Mr. Nolan will encounter a few hardships along the way.
All in all, The Realm is a well-paced comic, and the fun references are nicely wrapped up within an engaging story. Issue one and two can be found at your local comic shop or digitally, while issue three is scheduled to be released November 15th.