It’s off to the big city for Bethany and her friends. Will the library have references to help them translate the map? Where will their quest take them next? Find out in The Necromancer’s Map #4 from Vault Comics.
Writer: Andrea Fort and Michael Christopher Heron
Artist: Sam Beck
Colorist: Ellie Wright
Letterer: Andworld Design
Editor: Adrian F. Wassel
Publisher: Vault Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: November 20, 2019
Previously in The Necromancer’s Map: Bethany, Elissar, and Jonas set off for the city of Vallagard to get the map translated. Along the way they are ambushed by a group called Tristan’s Will, who are anti-necromancer. Thanks to Elissar, they hold them off but Bethany drops the map. They hole up to rest in an old windmill, and a band of Tristan’s Will shows up and calls them out. Ironically, they are headed by a necromancer named Volgros, and there is another fight.
TAKING A BREATH FOR SIDE QUESTS
At the beginning of The Necromancer’s Map #4, Jonas is excited to reach Vallagard. Elissar is less impressed. Bethany lags behind them. She has a lot to think about. She desperately wants to use her power for good, but Volgros insinuated that she is doomed to lose control. Elissar gives her a pep talk.
Vallagard has a notice board with lots of posted messages ranging from terrible jokes to personal quests. Oddly enough, someone is looking for a necromancer. Bethany desperately wants to help them out and to believe that necromancers are not universally reviled, so Elissar and Jonas let her go and they decide to get into the library and find the books they need to translate the map. But first they go to a tavern where we learn that Jonas is a bit of a pickpocket, and they attract the attention of a young woman named Mira who offers to help them sneak into the library. Elissar turns her down.
Bethany’s side quest – and it feels very much like a side quest out of a game – takes her to a wealthy estate with three siblings and their deceased father. His will was incomplete, and they don’t know who was meant to inherit. It’s an interesting study in bickering siblings, although King Lear did it better.
The Library does not just let anybody in, so Elissar and Jonas need to find another way, which naturally leads them into the sewers. The floor gives way beneath Jonas, and who should show up but Mira, who has been following them. She saves them and leads them into the Library.
Back at the estate, while the family debate, Bethany gets into a conversation with a bard whom the family has also hired. The main purpose for this appears to be to give us yet more back story, show us how awful the family are, and for him to warn Bethany that necromancers still are not popular. The kids decide to let Bethany raise their father, and one true gem in this story is his reaction, as he immediately understands that he’s been brought back, and it has to do with his children.
The others get into the library, and Jonas drops Bethany’s name, which gets Mira’s attention. They are attacked by guards, and it turns out Mira can fight. Then they drop the map, which Mira picks up and recognizes. She claims her friend was killed for it by a necromancer named – you guessed it – Bethany. To bring the story even tighter together, her assassin friend is the woman who killed Elissar. Coincidences are a stock in trade of stories, but this one seems a little clunky.
Don’t get me wrong – this is a charming book. The characters are distinct and they continue to surprise and delight. It’s a solid fantasy story, but the level of sophistication is aimed at a younger (middle school age) reader. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think it behooves a reader to be aware of this before diving in.
CLEAN AND LIVELY
The Necromancer’s Map #4 has good, solid artwork. The lines are crisp and clean. Good attention is paid to the various settings. This is a 37-page book and it covers a lot of ground. The city of Vallagard is lovely. The bar Elissar and Jonas go to would fit right into any D&D game. The fancy estate out of town is set high on a hill with the family crypt down the other side of the hill, which gives it some interesting character. The library is elegant and huge. It’s fun to imagine being in most of these settings (except, perhaps, the sewers).
I like the interlude with the wealthy siblings and their deceased father. They’re young adults; they have a passing resemblance; but they are all very individual. I love the expression on the father’s face when he is brought back from the dead. It leads into a nice little mystery, and then the father is exhausted from all of this. It’s also an interesting take on something helpful a necromancer could reasonably do.
BOTTOM LINE: A TERRIFIC FANTASY BOOK FOR THE YOUNGER READER
The Necromancer’s Map #4 widens the world we’re in and shows us a little more about what Bethany hopes she’ll be able to do. Her road isn’t going to be easy, and her two companions have their own issues they need to deal with. It’s a lovely comic that is not overly complicated.
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The Necromancer's Map #4
Everyone gets side quests, and Bethany gets a new enemy, and perhaps a new friend.