One part Ocean’s Eleven, one part Game of Thrones, is how the series Brigands has been described. Now, we get another installment and more action with Stilian “Blackheart” Desault and company with Ruin of Thieves #1 from Action Lab Comics. How do the stars align on this installment…
Writer: Ram V
Artist: Sumit Kumar, ROSH
Cover Artist: Sumit Kumar
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in RUIN OF THIEVES: There was a series named Brigands! After Stilian Desault and his companions, recently employed by the Temurian Inquisition (who recruited them after pulling Stilian from Death Row), fought against and defeated their enemy, the warlord known as Davoran. They have made their way clandestinely to the kingdom of Krantal to continue on their mission, to steal the artifact known as The Myros Pendulum. But as the party arrives at the island of Rekik, the ship they were aboard is being searched by a man named Zamish.
YOUR PARTY MEETS IN A TAVERN…
Stilian and the rest of his team, which consists of a brute named Grizzly, pyromaniac named Wilbur, Viena the thief, the wizard Wink, and the assassin known as The Count escaped the ship secretly before they were discovered. Taking refuge in a tavern known as the Muddied Gull, they find that it is now uncommon for desperate people to come in wanting to not be noticed. As the team discusses their next step, The Count warns that they are being watched by three people at a table on the other side of the room. But it gets even more interesting when a young boy runs in and warns of soldiers on the way.
As weapons are drawn, the occupants of both table leap up and declare, “Their after us! Is there a back way out of the inn?” After they escape, the two groups introduce themselves to each other, and it seems that one Tarek Solomon, the leader of a slave colony rebellion and currently a wanted man and politician, leads the newcomers. Later, he request Stilian and his team help him make it to a waiting boat on the docks. Stilian, known as Blackheart, refuses, saying that he is not low enough to associate with a politician.
By the end, the party is convinced, some may say conned, into helping Solomon, as the soldiers began to gather information on where they are going. Elsewhere, The Myros Pendulum is being moved, and all traces of its existence are being annihilated.
Stilian “Blackheart” Desault, despite his notorious moniker, is showing himself to be very different than he promotes on the outside. While he made a stand on not helping Solomon, events happen that cause him to finally relent. Was it really his submitting to one of his team’s feelings, or did he see something he could not ignore?
On the other hand, Tarek Solomon proves to me the worst sort of freedom fighter, the one who promotes himself as a politician. Almost before the group can realize it, he has ensnared them in his plans, and the possibility of everyone getting out unscathed is slim.
OUT OF THE FRYING PAN, INTO THE FIREBALL…
It is unfortunate that I missed the original series, because Ram V has created a deadly setting that is not your average fantasy world. In fact, it is far removed from what most know of fantasy, and is grounded firmly in the works of Fritz Leiber and Robert E. Howard. This is the opposite of high fantasy, with their elves, fantastical creatures and the moral high ground. This is sword and sorcery style fantasy at its best, what I refer to at my home role-playing games as dirt fantasy. The morals are fluid, the reality is deadly, and there are no flights of eagles waiting to spirit our heroes away. Ruins of Thieves is bloody, dirty, and refreshing. Ram V has managed to take a cliché, the heist adventure, and add a new element to make it refreshing and interesting again.
Artist Sumit Kumar and colorist ROSH contribute their talents to bring the visuals this story to life. The art is gritty and sharp, much like the story. They convey the world’s grimdark style so well, it draws you in. Kumar’s line work is detailed and fine and the characters all have weight and individuality. ROSH’s colors make them even more amazing, and his fires seem to burn and his shadows envelope. The panels keep your attention, and contribute to the story, drawing you in.
BOTTOM LINE: GET IT
Many fantasy based comic works out there walk that fine line between diving into cliché and flirting with irreverence. Ruins of Thieves takes a different route and embraces the darkness that is normally avoided. There are moral issues that come up, and this makes you unsure if all the characters will make it out alive, and that feels real. I don’t think that resurrection would be a choice in this world.
My only complaint is that I had to read the prologue on the inside cover several times to grasp exactly what was going on. It was a little confusing as I had not read the previous series, but I’m glad I stuck with it. The story is solid, the art is great, and I look forward to seeing that happens next.
I’m not exactly going to say by hook or crook, but you should have a spot on your list for Ruins of Thieves.