REVIEW: THE LEAGUE OF VOLUNTEERS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (1 OF 3)
THE LEAGUE OF VOLUNTEERS: THE RETURN OF THE KING (1 OF 3)
Review by David Ferguson
Written by Neil Sharpson
Art by Stephen Byrne
Previously, the Druid gathered a team of heroes including the Archer, the Glimmerman, the Blood Rose and Fionn Mac Cumhaill to fight an ancient evil Bocanach He was defeated but with the heroic sacrifice of the Black Scorpion. Afterwards, the heroes learn that there are more threats both domestic and foreign that have to be dealt with. Following what they learn is a long tradition, they have formed a League of Volunteers. Now they have to deal with the aftermath of the crisis, being on a team together and guarding Ireland’s shores from further threats.
The issue begins with the a ballad about an old ghost story about the tunnels beneath Dublin city. We then meet Blood Rose who has returned to her crusade i.e. hunting vampires. She is joined by the Glimmerman who wants to help her. They pursue some vampires and end up in tunnels mentioned in the ballad. Back at the G2 Covert Division, we have moments with other team members where we learn more about their personal history and how they are feeling at this moment in time. Archer has to deal with old political alliances and Fionn is a man out of time who has deal with a world he is not used to.
This is first book I’ve read by Neil Sharpson and the first League comic not written by creator Robert Curley. I was impressed. He has done a great job keeping the characters consistent with the ones we have seen in previous League issues while at the same time building on their personal back stories. As he is writing the calm after the storm, he has also had the chance to start building relationships between the team members and developing their personalities. I particularly enjoyed the interaction between the Archer and Fionn and his use of humour. The issue was a good mix of character moments and action scenes. The action feels never feel unnecessary and progress the story.
I have seen Stephen Byrne’s art in another Atomic Diner title, Róisín Dubh, so I am used to seeing him drawing demonic creatures and a world of shadows. I think his art is different in this issue though. The look is more of a superhero type style and it works for the story. He still manages to maintains his horror style for the vampires and other creatures. Like Sharpson, he keeps a consistent feel for the characters while at the same time infusing them with his own style. The issue feels like a superhero horror story. I noticed that the book is consistently “lit” darkly except for the scenes inside the G2 Covert Division. The only humour being shown was there too. It brings the feeling that the world is a dark place the League have to protect the people of Ireland from. I enjoyed the story and development of the League’s cast of characters. I look forward to see where the story goes and how the team work as they interact more.