THe Underside of Royalty

Mar 28, 2024


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There is a lot of distinction and dignity that surrounds being a member of the upper class. Still, we often fail to factor in many of the disturbing details that reality really entails. That is until we finally witness it unraveling right before our eyes. So while Image Comics new series Under York takes place in the ‘New World”, Sylvain Runberg’s story conveniently coincides with some real world scenarios. Because you can only push things down for so long before they bubble up to the surface.

Under York #1

Image Comics

Story: Sylvain Runberg
Art: Mirka Andolfo
Inks: Carmelo Zagaria (Arancia Studio)
Colors: Piky Hamilton (Arancia Studio)

Under York #1 opens with a sinister reminder that the children are our future; and our frailty. A reminder that in any aristocracy, the heirs are merely a reflection of the world that the parents present, pretend doesn’t exist and often fail to prevent. When it comes to Runberg’s Under York, this lesson takes the form of Ralph Walker who is doing a summoning in his room. Even with its dark purposes, the carefully laid out pentagram, basks the room in beautiful light courtesy of Arancia Studio’s Piky Hamilton. Meanwhile, Ralph’s parents – dressed for a night on the town – sense his activity and rush upstairs. Upon entering his room they discover Ralph – or at least the entity possessing him – holding an unknown elixir, and offering them an ultimatum and a a blade to Ralph’s wrist; drink or their son dies.

Under York #1 Int Art

Image Comics Under York #1 uses this initial ritual to present a situation we often accept as a routine. The ability to disregard dangers because of the belief they are either beneath us or that they are carefully contained. However, neither sentiment is sensible since the calamity continues to exist. Instead, what happens is it finds footing in our world in a seamless manner; our innocents.

Of course there are some youth that know about the hypocrisy of high society; even in their own homes. They usually “abandon” their status and strike out to “make it” on their own merits. In Runberg’s Under York this character is Allison who works for Sloppy, making burgers for a long line of customers. But Allison is also an artist who is only a few hours away from her debut exhibit. So yeah, she has a lot on her mind, which is partially why she loses it with the impatient crowd outside the food truck. However, even after Sloppy offers to let her leave early, her demeanor doesn’t change much. It gets darker due to his suggestion of taking the subway to save time. You can see from the glazed over look Mirka Andolfo gives to her there is more brewing under the surface.

What readers will soon discover is that Allison is a Walker, yes one of those Walker(s). Her normal life is lost when someone from her past, intent on bringing Allison home, arrives at the gallery. The magical standoff that takes place during Allison’s own exhibit – as her paintings attack her potential patrons – coincides with some amazing ink from Carmelo Zagaria. As the battle lines are drawn between Allison and her attacker, Zagaria and Hamilton illustrate for readers the full might of the Black Winds.

Image Comics Under York #1 establishes a sorcerer’s society that operates invisibly in the Empire State. As the first issue ends readers will no doubt find this story familiar to another world of wizardry. However, the society in control in Under York knows its position is precarious, despite their powers. They issue an ultimatum to Allison to both locate her family and help thwart a Babylonian demon from returning. The sorcerer’s council clearly remembers how easily it would be for the surface world to turn on them. And the horrors they would impose upon them all as a reminder of their true place in the world.

Score: 9.5