It is a sad homecoming for Dorma Ironweed – her brother is dead and she doesn’t know how she fits in here anymore. As she crafts a monument in his memory, there is an explosion… Here is the Major Spoilers review of Scales and Scoundrels #11 from Image Comics.

Scales and Scoundrels #11 ReviewSCALES & SCOUNDRELS #11

Writer: Sebastian Girner
Artist: Galaad
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Publisher: Image
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 1, 2018

Previously in Scales & Scoundrels: Dorma Ironweed has braved the dark of Dragon’s Maw Dungeon in search of her brother, Taras. Instead, she found his gravesite. Instead of finding riches, he had met his doom.

AN EMOTIONAL HOMECOMING

A disclaimer – I came into Scales & Scoundrels #11 without having read previous issues. But I do like to review titles that are not always familiar to me. The overall story appears to be that of a party on a quest, exploring a dungeon. However, what we have in this issue is a more personal chapter concerning one of the main characters.

Dorma Ironweed is a dwarf who was looking, not for adventure or riches, but for her brother. He died at the hands of a demon who had lured him into the dungeon. The issue starts out with Dorma talking to someone who appears to be this older brother, Taras, so presumably, she is somehow with him in the spirit world. At any rate, he directs her home and says he’ll always be right behind her, and she begins her journey home followed by a little spirit who stays with her throughout the issue. On the way home, she passes some merchants who comment on how bad the trade for ore has been in the area of late.

And then she arrives in her homeland bearing her brother’s axe. Everyone who sees this immediately understands that someone from their community is dead. She goes to her home where she finds her grandmother, and brews her tea from the fairyblooms she found on her journey. Then her parents arrive. According to their beliefs, Taras’ spirit will wander in the foreign lands of his death until someone crafts a memory of him here to guide him home. They ask Dorma to undertake this task.

Then we get into a family discussion of just why he left. Things are hard here at home, and therein lies the conflict. Taras was looking for opportunities for life outside their home burrow. But generations of Dwarves have lived here. But, Dorma says, the land is drying up – is it any wonder he left?  (Indeed, hasn’t this been a motivation for generations of young people in our own world to leave home?) Dorma agrees to go to the tomb for her brother, and says after that, they will never see her again. She also meets a few old friends, including one who is a Captain of the Digs now.

Dorma gets to the tomb and starts carving stone into a likeness of her brother. She is interrupted by a huge noise and vibration. An explosion in the mines has gone wrong, and several miners (specifically the young ones we just met a few pages ago) are trapped. Dorma goes to try to help them, but before she can clear any of the stones, there is another quake and she falls further into the mine and is knocked out.

This is a moving chapter of the story, and it ends with a good cliffhanger. Unfortunately, it also ends with a message from the creators – the next issue in the series (#12) is going to be the last for now. They promise to give us a satisfactory endpoint, which is very thoughtful. And frankly, I’m a bit regretful. For having found this book late, I do like it, and I really like the character of Dorma.

RUSTIC AND SWEET

The art of Scales & Scoundrels #11 is of fairly uncomplicated linework with somewhat cartoon-like faces. Many of the eyes, especially in close up, are in a style that has a lot of white and rather small irises, for an example. Hands and fingers are also somewhat blocky and squared off. Some faces just have an odd look to them, but the artist works hard to give people individual faces that are consistent for the person.

There is some lovely composition and use of light and shadow throughout. The backgrounds are more suggestive than detailed, but it is easy to understand what they represent. There is a pattern of a more detailed shot establishing the new scene, and then more simplified backgrounds for the next few panels. There is a lovely page where Dorma is at home in her room settling in and making tea, but around her are ghostly depictions of Dorma and Taras as children. This is so sweet, and those few panels told me so much their relationship.

BOTTOM LINE: A POIGNANT PENULTIMATE ISSUE

I’m much more curious about the rest of the series now. This book feels like a labor of love, and it sounds like the creators are looking into what options they might have to carry the book further into the future. This may not be a jumping on point, but if you like fantasy adventure stories that are also coming of age stories, you may want to pick this up or, at the very least, look out for it in the future.

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About Author

By day, she’s a mild-mannered bureaucrat and Ms. Know-It-All. By night, she’s a dance teacher and RPG player (although admittedly not on the same nights). On the weekends, she may be found judging Magic, playing Guild Wars 2 (badly), or following other creative pursuits. Holy Lack of Copious Free Time, Batman! While she’s always wished she had teleportation as her superpower, she suspects that super-speed would be much more practical because then she’d have time to finish up those steampunk costumes she’s also working on.

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