Story: Brian Schirmer
Art: Elena Gogou
Colors: Rebecca Nalty
Letterer: Andworld Design
What They Say:
His secret’s out. His friends are angry. Barrow stands alone. The King has arrived to claim what’s his… and he’s brought a few thousand friends. Did I say “friends”? I meant “soldiers”! Will this be The Last Call at Quests Aside?!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
I really enjoyed the first couple of issues of Quests Aside as it delivered exactly what I was hoping for coming from a background of 80s indie comics. Brian Schirmer delved into this territory because with ease and it has a lot of ways to have fun. The first issue was pretty busy with all it had to do with introducing the cast and lay of the land but it came together well enough and now we get to see how he builds on it. Elena Gogou has some fun with it here as we get a lighter touch to the character designs in that they’re not hyper-realistic or overly detailed but deliver some great designs that are expressive and fun to watch interact with each other. And it’ll always be fun watching a Skeleton wear clothes and do things.
With the finale, things play out largely as you’d expect but it’s enjoyable watching it do so. Barrow has given up hope for the most part and we saw how he was trying to sell the place but backed out of it because he couldn’t pawn off the problem on someone else. That has him now confessing to his employees, his found family, what’s going on and they’re not exactly happy. A lot of it comes down to them saying that while he may not have come up with a way to fix things as he tried to do, they might have had more luck if they had known and worked together. Which is true, but they weren’t in the mindset to do so for a while. Of course, the plan that ends up being come up with is Vail saying that she’ll kill the king as that’s what she’s wanted to do for her people since the start.
Barrow, to his credit, says that it has to be him and you can see a resignation to him about this as he goes to parlay with his old friend. There’s some good dialogue here and we get a better understanding of where the king is coming from and the issues that exist between the two that goes back to Barrow not becoming king himself and instead abandoning it all to run a bar. That’s saw in the minds of others for a long time and the king has used it as a way to keep him distant while letting his advisors claim the bar for a barracks. It’s something that does wrap up simply enough – after an amusing face-off as the locals show how against this they are – and we get a kind of everyone’s friends epilogue. It does hint at where things can go from here as Barrow has come across something bigger going on, but there are a lot of decent moments of putting everyone into a better place at the end than they were at the start.
Quests Aside was a fun series that delved into a cute fantasy setting to play with some amusing bits. Structurally, it’s pretty familiar but the execution didn’t always work early on and some of the pacing was just a bit weird. But the characters grow on you quickly and how can you not want to see a group of plucky bar friends not survive and keep their bar for another day of drinking and sexytimes? It’s the kind of property that I wish we had more of because it’s not all about world-ending chaos or big fighting events. It builds to a good end here and knows how to cap it off just right.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Vault Comics
Release Date: September 21st, 2022