Princess Sybil of Havos races against time to stop her father, the power-mad Emperor Atilus, from invading Earth! Can she and her now-estranged friends put a stop to the emperor’s plans? Or does he have a few tricks up his sleeves? Lowfat reviews Portal Bound by Aspen Comics.
Portal Bound Issue 4 is really the fifth issue because the series begins with Issue 0. It’s not really optional. Don’t start at 1. As I mentioned in my previous review, it’s the mid-1990s again according to the comic book industry, so everything must be awesome, and nothing really has to make sense. Numbering an issue Issue 0 makes no sense, but it is awesome. Anyway: Earth has a sister world unbeknownst to its residents called 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 now the emperor has conquest on his mind.
This issue sees the heroes in dire straits, and as the plot zooms toward its conclusion, their predicaments don’t seem to improve much. Issue 4 begins by showing some backstory of Princess Sybil as a lonesome-yet-powerful child. Perhaps she is lonesome because of her power. At least her mother loves her.
On Havos, after sealing herself off from the rest of her friends on Earth, Princess Sybil decides to end her father’s evil schemes on her own. She races home toward Emperor Atilus’s castle.
Back on Earth, Elias, Brett, and Riley wrap up some exposition detailing the parallel relationships shared by the denizens of Earth and of Havos. Then they get down to business working toward returning to Havos. And they discover a deus ex machina that’s more machina than deus, and… well, whatever. The gang does a thing that moves the plot along, and it works fine within this book’s established world and characters.
Sybil infiltrates her home on Havos, and has a nice chat with her mother, who is still very loving, but she might not be as kind as we once thought.
The rest of the group trails Sybil back to the fortress, but Elias accidentally merges again with Omeil the bounty hunter. Elias flees so that he can mope about having so much teenage self-doubt. Omeil-Brett captures Riley, and he takes her to the emperor. The emperor does a creepy, horrible thing, and he puts into motion his ultimate plan with a really neat cliffhanger ending.
Portal Bound continues to be a fun, quick-paced ride. This issue, in particular, ramps up the action and the plot as it zooms toward its conclusion. Honestly, I have no idea how it intends to wrap up everything in a single issue. This is the most excited I have been for a comic story in a long time! Kudos to Mark Roslan and Gabe Carrasco for keeping the page economy tight. Every panel matters, and I apologize for the minor spoilers with the images shown in this article, because almost every panel in this issue is a potential spoiler of some sort.
Although this book, like Aspen Comic’s Shrugged, is best suited for kids or young teens, this particular issue merits its T for Teen rating, as Sybil demonstrates her skills as a warrior by casually but permanently defeating some guards as she scales her way up the emperor’s castle. I can’t wait to see her show off her skills in next issue’s inevitable battle.
This issue had a good deal of action, but the story took center stage. There were no less than three plot twists, and each one was fun and surprising. The character development that defined Sybil’s relationship to her family – and her mother, in particular – was much-needed and perfectly executed. And it should be mentioned that Brett’s dry wit is hilarious.
The art does an adequate job of moving the story along, but the lineart is slightly more inconsistent than in previous issues.
For some reason, Mohawk Child morphs from standard eleven-year-old to giant infant over the course of four panels. How are these two images of the same person?
Fortunately, the pages are carried by the excellent coloring. The world of Havos is still a brilliant and exotic place, but the characters still stand out enough so that the marvels of the alien world are not distracting. The art and panel layouts really do wonders in assisting the dialog so that the story zooms at a nonstop, easy-to-read flow. The readability alone makes it a great first book for anyone looking to pick up comics for the first time.
Portal Bound Issue 4 continues the energized story of the previous issues. The breakneck pace of this issue really sets the stage for Issue 5’s epic conclusion. Sybil’s character is further explored via her relationship with her family – which complicates her desire to stop her father, the evil emperor. Although the art is not as strong in this issue as it has been in previous efforts, it is still certainly capable of rushing the reader from one panel to the next, and from one page to the next, until the great cliffhanger on the final page. Portal Bound is keeping me excited, and I can’t wait to pick up the final issue and see how everything turns out. It might not be as happy an ending as I had originally expected.
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 4)
- The plot’s previous fast-pace is ramped up even higher as it zooms toward the final confrontation.
- The colors are as gorgeous as in previous issues. Each panel looks vivid, but none are garish or distracting. This book is really easy on the eyes.
- Sybil and her family members finally get some much-needed – and surprising– character development.
- Plot twists!
- Some lineart could have been better refined.