Just as she steps to the mic at a dingy L.A. club, Sibohan is suddenly in terrible pain and she and her friends find themselves being attacked by cybernetic creatures while also being given powers and potentially saved by a sorceress. Such is the inciting incident of Otherworld, the creator-owned Veritgo book written and penciled by Phil Jimenez (with inks by Andy Lanning), which was originally slated to be a twelve-issue miniseries in 2005 and got as far as issue #7 before being put on hold (by Jimenez himself, I think, because of his commitment to Infinite Crisis, which dropped the month after Otherworld wrapped).
What follows this inciting incident is a story in which a group of friends find themselves in Otherworld, a planet in another dimension that has two very different halves separated by a wall that is slowly growing and consuming that particular plane of existence. Complicating things is that those halves areon the verge of war with one another, with the leaders from each thinking that the other is causing the wall to eat away at their world. Sibohan and her friends are split up between these two cities, with our heroine discovering that she is, in fact, a sorceress and a descendant of Merlin in a city that is reminiscient of Middle Earth. Meanwhile, on the other side in a city that is reminiscient of something out of a cyberpunk novel, Sibohan’s boyfriend Jason (whom she was cheating on) has been assimilated into a techno/metal body (one that resembles the T-1000) and is slowly taking over that city with an eye on destroying his perceived enemies. By the end of issue #7, the people on both sides of this conflict have started to uncover truths as to why they were sent there and are also gearing up for a monumental battle, not realizing that there’s a third party involved who actually is causing the problems.
I remember seeing this advertised in Previews when it came out but never picked it up because of a lack of funds at the time (and the fact that said funds were being used toward my buying the various Infinite Crisis lead-ups). So it came and went and I went through whatever phases of comic book collecting that I happened to go through in the mid-2000s before forgetting it had been out. Over the years, I would see the trade in various $5 bins and sometimes picked it up but then put it aside for an Essential X-Men volume or something similar; that is, until I saw all seven individual issues in a quarter bin. $2.75 being nearly half of the $5 discount trade, I couldn’t pass it up.
While this was on my “to read” list of comics for my Uncollecting adventure, this is actually my second time reading the series, because I read the books when I got them and had a hard time following what was going on. Now, I cannot attribute that to Jimenez as a writer, because on this second reading, I found myself sucked in. So maybe I was just distracted or something when I originally read it? Who knows. Anyway, while he does tend to write pretty densely (this is not decompressed storytelling by any stretch of the imagination), Jimenez is really good at characterization and takes his time to let his characters develop as well as build the world they’re all shunted to. And it’s a gorgeous, complex world that suits his artwork–which I have always loved. I read this in a night but could have easily taken longer because of the amount of detail he puts into each panel and page.
It’s a shame that this hasn’t been finished, and I’m curious as to whether or not he intends to do so. DC closed Vertigo a few years back, and while he is working on a Black Label story called Historia that is about the Amazons (think Atlantis Chronicles for Wonder Woman), I don’t know if they would think there’s a place for such a story in their current crop of books. Image has been putting out a similarly themed book called Die, which is an absolutely stunning comic by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, so there’s definitely a market for this type of story. Dark Horse, perhaps?
At any rate, there are copies of the series and the trade that are pretty easy to come by in the bins, and I think that if this were ever to be finished and collected, I’d probably choose that format. For now, I’ll file this away in the hopes that it will get revisited and will recommend it to anyone who might find sword and sorcery mixed with cyberpunk intriguing.
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