You might call this a bit of late coverage from this years’ San Diego Comic Con, but the newly released title Zojaqan, via Vault press — written by Collin Kelley (Joyride, Hacktivist) and Jackson Lanzing (Batman & Robin Eternal), and illustrated by Nathan C. Gooden (Dixie Vixens, Powerless) — has hit shelves. Having met the creators and received an autographed copy of the premiere issue, it is a fantastic pleasure to be able to write about it now.
Ostensibly set in the fictional fantasy world of the titular Zojaqan, the story centers on main character Shannon Kind, who wakes up to the fantasy world with memories of having visited before, and surprise at the current state of the world. She faces the dangers of the fantasy world, reacquiring the skills and knowledge that had been buried since her last visit, before the issue ends with Shannon a veritable leader of Zojaqan. We get glimpses of her life prior to awakening, and these memories and internal struggles mirror the external difficulties and dangers she faces, and presumably these overlaps between fantasy and memory will offer more background into what — and where — Zojaqan actually is.
The story is the sort of hard fantasy you’d probably have found in mid-1990’s Vertigo titles; but has an airy, introspective pace that allows the reader to luxuriate in the dreamy textures and surreal imagery. Gooden’s work is a fantasy delight: watercolored, bright, airy, and surreal but lacking any of the sort of weightlessness and geographical confusion that sometimes derail some action-driven comics. And, provided the implication of the some of the memories that seep into Shannon’s journey, Zojaqan is not going to shy away from some of the larger socio-political issues that currently plague our world. While the title might meander a bit and take a bit of orienting, this is certainly a unique read worth picking up. 4/5 Bibles.