New Masters #1 is published by Image Comics, written by Shobo, and art by Shof. In the future, the most crucial resource known is the mineral obsidian. With the export of obsidian off-world being one of the Earth’s major cash flows, the danger of obsidian deposits running dry is real. But there is an older commodity that may be able to supplant obsidian. A vast treasure trove of ancient knowledge has been found, and whoever holds it will hold great power.
Perhaps no genre is as difficult to start a new setting in as science fiction. A delicate balance must be maintained between fleshing out the world, its situation, technologies, and characters while also maintaining a strong flow to the story, so the reader isn’t bogged down with technobabble and backstory. While New Masters #1 manages this balance fairly well, it still leaves a lot of questions about its characters and story up in the air.
The first half of our story introduces readers to Funlola. One of many residents of Eko City who make their living gathering raw obsidian to sell on the black market. While it’s unclear what part in New Masters #1‘s larger story this character will play, the book utilizes its time with her well to give the reader a feel for some of the dangers of this world, as well as to establish the general tone of the issue.
The back half of this story introduces a handful of additional characters as well as what seems to be the MacGuffin that the story will revolve around: The Eye of Orunmila. A vast treasure trove of knowledge that will provide a decisive edge in numerous ways to whoever holds it.
While it remains unclear how the several facets of New Masters #1‘s story will come together, the overall setup delivers some strong promise. The world seems fairly interesting, and the larger plot brings a solid amount of potential with it. As long as the story can manage to continue smoothly developing these elements in future installments, this series may hold a lot of promise.
The visual design of this story creates a world that feels fairly unique. While the technology at play is clearly from the far future, there is a strong presence of social structures that feel firmly grounded in the book’s past. We see bartering happening in stalls that line markets that feel no different than the ones you might find in any number of regions across the world today. This combination of futuristic and familiar helps give the setting a feeling of connection with the world we live in today.
The only aspect of New Masters #1‘s visual design I wish a bit more clarity had been provided for is its alien races. There are a few different species of sentients introduced in this book that is not well defined. While their names are given, several are introduced in a quick rundown with no identifier letting the reader know which species is which. This promises some confusion if the story returns to these groups later on.
The other aspect of this book that brings a few struggles with it is the lettering. While the placement of dialogue allows the reader to follow along with the story well enough, the choice of fonts for the book leaves a bit to be desired. While it works aesthetically with the art style, it isn’t the easiest to read. I never found it to be out-and-out unreadable, but it took a bit of extra focus and the occasional re-read to get through it.
When all is said and done, New Masters #1 delivers a solid introduction to its new world. With many elements of its narrative and world still up in the air, it’s hard to say how this story will pan out in the end; however, if you are simply looking for something that feels different in your next science fiction adventure, this book might be worth picking up.
New Masters #1 is available on January 20th, wherever comics are sold.
New Masters #1
When all is said and done, New Masters #1 delivers a solid introduction to its new world. With many elements of its narrative and world still up in the air, it’s hard to say how this story will pan out in the end.