Story: Chris Roberson
Art: Christopher Mitten
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letterer: Clem Robbins
What They Say:
Years after surviving a catastrophe that destroyed her home, Panya has settled into her life as a temple servant, but remains plagued by nightmares… or visions. Meanwhile, groups of traveling petitioners come to the temple bearing warnings of a looming darkness that bears a worrying resemblance to Panya’s own dreams.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The world which Mike Mignola has worked for the past few decades has led to a lot of great storytelling and creators working within it. It’s been enjoyable reconnecting with it in the last few years and this new series brings us more with Chris Roberson again handling the writing duties here. Roberson gets to play in a familiar world but shape it in a way that works for this particular universe and that’s got a lot of appeal, especially since it is a much smaller world overall. Christopher Mitten is on board for the artwork and they capture the look and feel of this period really well, especially with some of the openness that we get in this first issue. I really like the character designs and Madsen’s color work on it helps to highlight the raw and rough aspects of the artwork. I’m curious as to how well the hieroglyphics are in the background but I’m not doing any translating work nor would I hold any artist too much to that in general, though my curiosity is certainly there.
With a lot of the setup done in the first installment, this one takes a more measured approach as we follow Panya through her days. She’s doing the hard work she needs to but we also see how it’s viewed by others and the way she’s seemingly distracted by things. It’s interesting to see how others condescend to her in obvious and subtle ways and make clear that she’s at the bottom of everything here. But she’s also more aware in a kind of subtle way about what’s happening but not able to verbalize it – not that anyone else would actually listen to her either. She’s treated dismissively most of the time and encouraged just to do what she needs to do. But through her we see how the temple operates and the kinds of confusions that creep in, such as when she leads a prayer but it’s the wrong one because there are so many gods now and so many prayers that it’s hard to keep track of. The simplicity of the old ways with the single god definitely made things a lot easier on someone like Panya.
Where things start to shift more is when a new group of petitioners arrives and we see how their dreams and what are told to be messages from the gods come across in a dark way, following what others have been feeling as well, that it’s all self-fulfilling. Panya’s trying to discern things herself based on what she’s feeling and with nobody paying attention to her she tries to do the prayer and sleep in the temple receptively thing as well. This takes her to a very dark dream where it seemingly has her questioning everything but also discovering a potential path to what may help because she wants to find the right way in this world. It’s a bleak and frightening kind of supernatural event that she dreams of, and it’s impossible to tell at the moment how much of it is a real message and how much is in her mind, but the resulting chaos in the real world with the temple is fascinating and seeing how Panya now has to actively make choices and move forward to find the light that she believes she’s been instructed to find is engaging.
Panya’s not as densely packed in this issue as it was the first one but so much of the foundation had to to be set. Watching as Panya tries to understand what’s going on here, offering up her ideas but mostly being ignored, and grappling with what she’s feeling is very well done. I love the pacing, the visuals, the dreaming events, and how Panya is working through it all within such a fascinating space, place, and point in time. I’m very curious as to what’s next and am unsure of where it’ll go but that just makes me all the more interested in it. Very intriguing across the board.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: August 16th, 2023