In Review – ‘Norah’s Saga’ from Allegiance Arts & Entertainment.

Norah’s Saga issue #1.

Writer – Blake Northcott.

Creator – Patrick Stiles.

Artist – Kelsey Shannon.

Colour Flatting – Hernan Octavio.

Letters – Eric Weathers.

Editor – Patrick Stiles.

29 pages – Full Colour – $4.98 digital download.

Image used for review purposes only.

The Story – ‘New school–new world, literally. Sassy, book-smart Norah Karlsson’s quest to fit in becomes an epic tale of survival when she crashes through the mists of time and into a realm of ice and Norse legend. The high school’s mean girls had nothing on the god of mischief, and at least they never tied her to a stake. Bullies? Try trolls, and not the Internet variety. Forget sharing a table with the cool kids in the cafeteria; Norah would be just as happy if she didn’t have to slay her lunch.’

Norah and her father head off to The Mall in a snowstorm and crash into an ice covered lake. She is saved from drowning by someone not of this time… (I think you can probably guess where she ends up.)

This is the first part of a series with four issues released so far. The physical versions of the issues are currently funding on IndieGoGo right here.

This review deals with issue #1 only. I was prompted to pick up some comics from Allegiance after a short interaction with their founder Mitch Breitweiser. We are still looking to get him on the Awesome Comics Podcast when scheduling works out.

The Cover – This is a cracking cover that lays up some vital parts of the story both in this issue and to come later on. The use of colour reveals the differences between the two realities that Norah later finds herself in and it is a great advert for what is contained inside. As I was surfing the Allegiance website this is what made me pick up an issue.

Artwork used for review purposes only.

The Review – There is some great pacing on show in this issue, it feels like it rattles along but takes care in adding the required detail and personality. It also balances the dramatic moments with the character explorations. For Example, there is a switch and bait moment on page one that has you thinking you are beginning a Viking story but then reveals a moment in the past of Norah and her family at a museum exhibition. Northcott uses this familiarisation with the Father, Mother and Daughter, along with a dream sequence as narrative tools to move forward some years to when Norah’s mother has passed away and her Dad is struggling to bring up his daughter. That establishing scene for just two pages works marvels in the reader’s investment going forward. It is clearly laid our in story, dialogue and art with Shannon adding subtle touches to show the slight aging of his cast.

The art is consistently strong throughout and Shannon handles a range of subjects with a capable line and no end of detail. Of especial note are the packed classrooms and dining halls of the High School where he never scrimps on details but remains agile with energy in each panel that adds to an almost audible commotion. There isn’t any of the usual stiffness you see in a lot of moder day comics artists, the people move totally naturally. The combination of art and writing really infuses Norah with the temperament and identity that makes her believable and has you cheering for her and (literally) holding your breath when she is in danger. I can’t wait to see how the art develops when we more solidly move into the Viking/Norse landscapes. If they are anything like the small moments we see in issue #1 they will be great.

A big mention is also due to the colour in this first issue. I’m guessing that this is completed as a collaboration between Octavio and Shannon? Whoever it is, they do a splendid job on the book but on the nighttime scenes in particular. Whether it be on a a disastrous late drive or on the above panel showing a background of the Northern Lights. Just lovely.

My only criticism really is in price and availability. $4.98 is a lot of money for a single 29 page digital issue. Especially if you factor in that the crowdfunding currently running has reached 8794% of it’s total. Also, as a UK reader I don’t think we will be seeing any physical copies in the UK? I know this was the case a year ago but I stand to be corrected if not the case here. This was the only reason that I haven’t bought the rest of the issues. I’ll see what happens with the trade – wait that one out.

You can find this series and all the other Allegiance comics at their site right here.

Many thanks for reading.

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