Review: Scales & Scoundrels #1

After an action packed summer of Night Kings, Three-Eyed Ravens, and the allegedly fake tuchus of a certain bastard king, where will the fantasy addicts get their next fix? As pumpkin spice will surely give way to peppermint very soon, what will be the next enveloping world to lose ourselves in, away from the oncoming winter?

Look no further than the newly premiered Scales & Scoundrels from the mind of Shirtless Bear-Fighter creator Sebastian Girner and the hand of artist, Galaad.Scales and Scoundrels #1

Girner, who has recently gained notoriety for the (literally and figuratively) cheeky and hilariously ludicrous world of SBF, plunges us into the gorgeous, sprawling world of Luvander, a mysterious rogue and treasure hunter. “Gorgeous” and “sprawling” are understatements really, because what Galaad lacks in gritty realism, he does more than make up for in charmingly cartoonish and whimsical character design, along with panels crammed with epic world building. A sequence of pages following Luvander as she evades the city guard can attest to this. As she leaps from rooftop to back alley, Galaad give us glimpses of orc warriors, elven beggars, and a sweeping cityscape.

This first issue could have been completely absent of text and still would have been a wonderful read. However, even with words, Girner saves Scales & Scoundrels from the heavy exposition that usually besets most high fantasy narratives. Even with one or two pages with an omnipresent narrator, Girner leaves more for imagination than explanation. Channeling his visual joke telling from SBF to a remarkable ability to show-not-tell the reader. In one heartwarming sequence, the charismatic, cocky Luvander has a choice to give her last coin to a peasant girl, or keep it for her budding horde of gold. Rather than spell out vital character development for us, Girner simply cuts away to Luvander stealing a single apple for the cost of one copper. It can’t be helped but feel that readers will inevitably shed a few tears over issues to come.

This is a dramatic turn from Girner’s Shirtless Bear-Fighter, which would be at home along the likes of Axe Cop or many Adult Swim cartoons. But this is a testament to the flexibility of Girner’s storytelling and humor. Paired with the beautiful lines and colors of Galaad, Scales & Scoundrels is a welcomed departure from the blood, boobs, bluish hues of mainstream high fantasy.

Girner and Galaad build an epic world for both the young and old, filled with familiar but not yet tired fantasy tropes, all washed in warm, wholesome autumn colors for you to curl up next to a fire and over a flagon of ale and read. Fans of series like Steven Universe, Miyazaki, or animated films such as The Secret of the Kells should pick up Scales & Scoundrels without question.

Scales & Scoundrels Rating: 10/10

Alisha Weinberger is a comic book, video game, and animation enthusiast and critic. Along with comic reviews, she also maintains The Pop Break twitter feed. Alisha thoroughly enjoys the warm embrace of coffee, says "dawg" and "dope" ad nauseam, and shares a reluctant resemblance to Tina Belcher.