Comic Review: Amelia Cole and The Unknown World from Monkey Brain Comics

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Posted on December 19, 2012

Amelia Cole and the Unknown World #5, a MonkeyBrains Comic (@Monkeybrain_inc) production, is written by D.J. Kirkbride (@DJKirkbride) & Adam P. Knave (@adampknave) with art by Nick Brokenshire (@nickbrokenshire).

AC&tUW follows a young woman illegally using magic in a world where magic is heavily regulated. She also faked her way into a job as a super for an apartment where she lives with her abnormally large golem named Lemmy. The local magistrate sicked their top dog, The Protector, after her because of her propensity for using magic to help non-mages (people who aren’t magical). The Unknown World is filled with all kinds of demon lawyers and four armed jujitsu senseis further confusing Amelia, a relative newcomer and the class warfare between mages and non-mages creates a simmering tension felt throughout it’s populace.

Probably the most slackster magic user ever to grace the digital page, Amelia Cole’s innate ability gets her out of more jams than her actual skill level or dedication to the Craft. This issue she’s trying to fend of attacking creatures with a mouthful of pastry and clumsily bumping into the Protector who is trying to contain the ordeal. Kirkbride and Knave make Cole sound more like a grad student from the heartland than a wielder of the land’s most powerful magic with lines like, “Not the puppies!” while trying to destroy dimension-hopping insectoids, but it definitely puts a different spin on the ‘magic-user’ archetype seen in most fantasy stories. Her foil, the pompously dialogued, “The Protector” contrasts Cole’s more casual cadences with traditional sounding decrees and decries showing just how out of place she is in his world. She also puts off a very “Rosie The Magical Riveter” vibe casting spells through a monkey wrench. Brokenshire’s art is super-indie in the best way possible and looks ‘zine-ish, but with a bit more polish on it. Odds are this book is a big draw for female readers for that very reason as it’s pretty far removed from anything you’d normally find in the big pecs, spandex and pouches world of superhero comics. A big part of that is the character design, because with the exception of the Protector, nearly every character (even the ambulance-chasing persuasion demons) dress like normal people from Lancashire. The art also helps to temper the class warfare and conspiracy angles, making it more fun than menacing. Plus, Cole uses home-made (coughsHIPSTERcoughs) teleport balls and who doesn’t love to see a magic-inspired version of Portal played out on the digital page from time to time? Bonus points for rad cover too.

That’s not to say the comic isn’t great for male readers (it is), but it’s not explicitly aimed at them so there’s a distinct lack of cleavage, overt violence, blood, guts, gore or super-powered, emotionally stunted jocks spouting completely soap-opera-esque dialogue at one another, making it more accessible for people who just want a delightfully European magical adventure featuring a female protagonist who keeps her clothes on. Amelia Cole and the Unknown World is only available through Comixology and costs $1.99 an issue. The next issue appears to be the last, but hopefully Kirkbride, Knave and Brokenshire all return to MonkeyBrain on this or another title because it’s been a joy to read their work thus far.

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