• Review: 'The Untamed' by Sebastian A. Jones & Peter Bergting

    Comics development house Stranger Comics has launched The Untamed graphic novel by Sebastian Jones and Peter Bergting, and the company has also debuted an animated trailer for a planned full adaption from Hellboy and Watchmen producer Lloyd Levin and co-founder Andrew Cosby.

    Below is the test animation created by veteran animation company Film Roman and Ultimate Spider-Man director Alex Soto, and it features the voice of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones star Sean Bean.

    While we wait for the animation's release, we can start reading Jones and Bergting's dark fantasy graphic novels. The following is a review of their dark fantasy series. Note that there are some minor spoilers ahead, but I've decided not to reveal the story's biggest surprises.

    Art by Hyoung Taek Nam and not Tomm Coker. (Sean Bean is back from the dead!)

    The Untamed centers on a mysterious stranger who has returned from Hell to avenge his murdered son and wife by reaping the seven lost souls in Asunda, a world the publisher describes as "Frazetta Western". Much of the graphic novel is set in the Town of Oasis, which is run by ruthless killers, and described as "a cancer upon the vast and volatile world of Asunda."

    Here's a look at the stunning map of Asunda:

    The Untamed opens with a prologue in which the Stranger "was trapped in a world absent of color". Jones sets the dark, ghostly, and poetic tone of the graphic novel as he introduces his hell-bent protagonist intimately longing for his wife. His relentless determination to avenge his loved ones' deaths feels raw even though he conceals his bittersweet soul beneath his hooded figure.

    From beginning, I was suddenly captivated by the brilliant visuals of award-winning illustrator Peter Bergting. Oasis' dark and gritty Western atmosphere is a blend of macabre beauty that makes this dark fantasy a pleasure to immerse into. With Jones' poetic lines and intriguing dialogues, the story reveals that Oasis itself is a demon rampant with bloodshed and corruption, showing us that hell is on Asunda, dark enough to raise the question, "Are people born into this world with wicked intentions or do we mold them from our fears?".

    In a society where love is seen as a weakness, people give up morals to survive. Flesh and blood are currency. Even the value of gold is degraded. Untamed has the medieval savagery and sex of Game of Thrones and the testosterone-fueled angst of Frank Miller's 300, but despite its barbaric nature and sinister schemes, there's love and passion, still surviving beneath the carcass and rubble, enduring the pangs of Hell. Even Jones describes love as a "beautifully cruel religion". It's what makes his characters vulnerable but it's also the source of willpower that motivates them to fearlessly fight, hence "The Untamed".

    The most intriguing character to me was a half-elven girl named Niobe. She's the symbol of hope, innocence, and the good rarely seen in this world. The mystery surrounding her identity is the best part of the story. Of course, there are some spectacular sword fights and intense otherworldly battles that make The Untamed an epic read, but her purpose fascinates me more. Still I hope that we see more of her in the future chapters.

    Thanks to a still-active Kickstarter campaign, the printing funding for The Untamed was achieved, and I can't wait to see this franchise grow. A release date for the animated series hasn't been announced yet, but I highly recommend you to read this series. Jones and Bergting exceeded my expectations on what a great graphic novel should be. With Jones' dynamic story and Bergting's stunning illustrations, they've proven that the art and spirit of storytelling could be untamed.


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