The gang is ready to kill a fire demon – after a little training. And aura cleansing. And stocking up on supplies. Let’s face it – with all their skills in city life, will they ever be ready for this? Let’s find out in this review of Modern Fantasy #3 from Dark Horse Comics.
Writer: Rafer Roberts
Artist: Kristen Gudsnuk
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: August 29, 2018
Previously in Modern Fantasy: Sage and her friends rescue Fentax the goblin, but at the cost of the medallion. They get away with their lives, only to learn that the medallion summons a fire demon, and the crooked cops who took it sold it to a cult that intends to do just that.
A CUTE MASH-UP OF FANTASY AND THE 20-SOMETHING LIFE
Modern Fantasy #3 is settling into its story a little better, although it is still interspersed with humorous vignettes. We start out with another take on “fantasy world meets modern life” with the characters watching an episode of Battle Aerobics. They need to get in shape for battling this demon, and fast. And besides, Gondra’s mom swears by it. Instead, they decided to work out at the Y later in the day. Sage is late for work, but Bock-Darr, her orc co-worker, covers for her. When she lets slip about the fire demon, he is eager to help.
Lizard Wizard goes to his temple, where he hasn’t been in ages. His power has been waning, so he needs to get his aura cleansed. He needs to go through confession. When we check back in with him later, he’s confessing to a spell gone horribly wrong (in an elaborate poop-joke kind of way).
Gondra goes to the hospital to check in with Spenser. Apparently, she mainly pops by so they can get it on, but this time she wants to be sure he brings healing herbs. There is also the opportunity for several hospital related jokes, including one which pays off later, when Spenser’s next patient is a shambling mound with several gnomes lodged in its vegetation. Meanwhile, Sage and Darquin go shopping for magic items.
Finally, everyone meets up at the YOWC – Ye Old Workout Center. They break off into pairs for sparring, and the bard who happens to be hanging around sings about them until Sage kicks him out for being too distracting. (Okay, that is a kind of satisfying bard joke.) The following day is basically a montage of everyone (who works) at their jobs as Sage tells us how she figured out that one of the former ancient temples of the Ancient Fire Cult has been gentrified into the God’s Helm Mall. The cult is meeting after hours in the Food Court, but before our heroes can disrupt the ritual, the fire demon appears.
There’s a fair amount of meandering about alternating between scenes that are simply funny, and those that are trying to develop some character arcs. The main story is interesting, but it’s padded out with a lot of stuff. I can’t help think that perhaps the creative team could afford to set some of the jokes up faster, or leave some of them out entirely, and then the pace might not seem as slow or as dense.
THICK WITH VISUAL JOKES
Again, the visual jokes are abundant in Modern Fantasy #3. And some of them are genuinely charming. The Battle Aerobics features big hair, leotards, leg warmers, fatuous smiles, and heavy weaponry. The hospital scene is rife with jokes, from the giant centipede giving birth (and the number of young not matching up with the ultrasound), to the centaur with a broken leg (and doctor with a shotgun). The magic shop has a Harry Potter joke, if you can read the tiny print. This continues all the way through.
Overall, the art is a little on the minimal side. Characters have familiar features and are drawn simply. Time was taken for some of the more elaborate settings (such as the magic shop) and some instances of characters. (The fire demon is pretty good.) Much like the writing, it feels as though it is trying to pack in more than it needs to and still make deadlines.
BOTTOM LINE: FUN BUT NOT TERRIBLY PROFOUND
Modern Fantasy #3 is not a bad read. While it has a lot of fun with the basic concept, it hasn’t done any significant character development yet. To me, everyone feels a little bit like fantasy caricatures of types we are familiar with. It is a comfortable read, but not big on surprises.