Writers: J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Art: J.H. Williams III, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: December 29th, 2021
“A thief, a vampire, a gangster, and an elf walk into a bar…” might sound like the beginning of an awful joke, but it’s also something that’s possible in the world of Echolands, where an incredibly diverse group of characters from different lands have come together to safeguard a powerful gem once possessed by the powerful wizard Teros Demond and his monstrous daughter Iris. Echolands #5 continues this IMAX-style adventure.
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any others that were mentioned then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon.
Echolands #5 alternates between Hope Redhood and her group healing and resting up at the Metaphysicist’s sanctum and Rabbit, who was separated from Hope and the others’ last issue, being rescued by a giant Transformer-like robot named Ryoshin. Ryoshin takes Rabbit to his island home, where Rabbit will stand before the Bansho (the hive-mind of Ryoshin’s robot land).
If that quick synopsis of the issue makes your mind reel a bit, wait until you actually read the issue! Writers J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman have created an unbelievably complex world, with J.H. Williams III’s art filling each landscaped page to overflowing with foreground and background details. I’ve found myself reading each issue of this series at least twice, because it takes multiple reads to pick up all the details that are spilling out of the pages.
The over-arching story of the book itself is a simple linear one, keeping a powerful gem that can destroy the world from the hands of an evil wizard. But in this world, there are hundreds of lands (a land of vampires and werewolves, a land of robots, a land like Old Chicago from the 1920s, etc..) that the characters are having to navigate through in their quest.
It was nice to get a rest from the action this issue, as the characters recuperate, lick their wounds and plan what to do next, and we get to see more of their personalities and what makes them tick. Hope Redhood, the “star” of the book, has such a mysterious background that it almost makes her vapid and uninteresting. I wish there were more details about her past as a thief, aside from the occasional vague references she makes to her past.
By far my favorite character is Rosa, the vampire woman from Horror Hill who looks like Vampira but rages like Wolverine. She’s calm most of this issue, and it’s interesting to see the non-combat side of her.
Rabbit and Ryoshin’s confrontation with the hive-mind is the age-old plot device of robot vs. organic life form, and are their lives of equal value. I found this section of the story rather bland, but I liked the bright land and architecture of Ryoshin’s island.
J.H. Williams III’s art for Echolands #5 (and the entire series so far) has been astounding. Not only does he draw dozens of characters, but he draws each character in a different art style. Hope Redhood is drawn in a Frank Thorne style, looking like she just walked out of a Conan book. Castrum, from the 1920’s Chicago gangster land, is drawn like a Chester Gould-style Dick Tracy villain. Rosa the vampire woman is drawn like she just walked out of an old EC horror comic by Jack Davis, and Romulus is drawn like classic 1960’s era Jack Kirby.
On top of that, the backgrounds are filled with massive detail across the pages.
I can’t imagine how long it took him to draw these issues, it must have been painstaking work, but I marvel (no pun intended) at every page.
Echolands #5 presents a quiet time amid a massive adventure. Even without massive action scenes, things are kept interesting by the exquisite art and the chance to see more of the characters’ personalities.