This is the fourth issue of Portal Bound. It should be Issue #4, but this series started with Issue #0 because it’s 1995 again according to the comic book industry. The story so far: Earth has a sister world unbeknownst to its residents: the planet Havos, a land of fantastic beasts and advanced technology. Scientists on Havos created portal technology, and they are able to visit Earth. Each being on Havos has a counterpart on Earth. When those two counterparts touch, they merge into one being of immense power. Havos’s tyrannical Emperor, Atilus, has already fused with an Earthling. And he doesn’t want to return to Earth merely to visit. He wants to conquer.
Issue 3 begins, just like each issue that preceded it, by immediately throwing the reader into the action. Eli’s best friend, Brett, is unexpectedly fusing with his Havos counterpart, a mercenary sent to retrieve Eli, Princess Sybil, and Riley – no doubt for nefarious purposes.
After a narrow escape, Eli and friends arrive back on Earth. Eli ventures with Riley in search of food at the local mall.
Back on Havos, Emperor Atilus reveals the lengths he is willing to go to in furtherance of his plans of conquest. He has been growing an army of wolf-bird monsters, and he plans to release them to pursue the fleeing Princess Sybil.
Meanwhile, on Earth: exposition! The gang discusses the process of fusing, the cause-and-effect relationship between the denizens of Havos and Earth, and the Emperor’s origin. Was he always a villain? How did he get so power crazed? With whom is he fused? If someone on Havos dies, what happens to their Earthling counterpart? Eli, Brett, Riley, and Princess Sybil plan their next move, and Sybil makes a shocking decision that will affect the whole group.
Portal Bound is full of heart. The locations and creatures of Havos are fantastical and colorful, and at times threatening. The characters are shallow but very likeable, and their banter flows smoothly and realistically. When Eli and Riley explore the mall, they discuss their different cultures, and answer the question “do aliens like ice cream?”
Spoiler alert: everybody likes ice cream.
This book, like Aspen Comic’s Shrugged, is best suited for kids or young teens. Its T for Teen rating is warranted because some of the monsters are fierce, and the Emperor did murder a dude, but there is nothing here that would shock a parent. I’ve seen more violence in the Ice Age movies.
That isn’t to say this book is dull. On the contrary, this issue in particular packed so much character interaction and backstory into its 22 pages that it felt like it was over before it began. It left me excited to read Issue 4.
The story is carried beautifully by capable art, but mostly by Wes Hartman’s colors. Fused beings have a neat glow effect that makes them seem truly godlike in comparison to their Havos or Earthing counterparts. Flashback scenes contain no blacks, so everything has a washed out, “distant memory” appearance. Background gradients and foreground particle effects are put to great use and make the book pop. Portal Bound could just as easily belong alongside epic Saturday morning cartoons as it does on the new releases rack at the local comic book store.
Portal Bound Issue 3 continues the fun, energized journey of the previous issues. It’s clear the author is building toward an epic conflict, and it will be exciting to see it play out. Characters are not very complex (yet), and there is as-yet untapped potential for them to really become unique. For example, when Eli and Sybil learn of some loved ones’ deaths, their reactions are stifled and dismissed for the sake of keeping the story’s quick pace. The book never sacrifices any action for the sake of exploring the characters’ drama, and at times I wish it would slow down to spend more time with the characters. Portal Bound is a wonderful, fantastic action adventure in every sense of the words, and it’s well worth checking out.
For more information on Portal Bound, Aspen Comic’s online comic shop can be found here.
Thanks to Aspen Comics for providing us with digital review copies in exchange for our honest reviews!
Portal Bound - Issue 3
- The plot remains fast-paced, even when it delves into backstory and exposition. It’s not complex.
- The colors are gorgeous. Neat special effects like glow, particles, etc. really enhance the pictures.
- Characters are pulpy archetypes: the power-mad despot, the awkward, well-meaning-but-unsure-of-himself teenager, the brash young princess, etc.
- The plot, like the characters in it, is plenty fantastical, but not very deep.
- Characters are pulpy archetypes: the villain is more of a threatening plot device than a complicated cast member, the princess is commanding but isn’t very relatable (yet), etc.