Andrew Clemson’s Damsel from D.I.S.T.R.E.S.S. brings us the combo of espionage & fantasy and that alone was enough for me to jump on-board.
It tells the story of Bec who has worked her way through the ranks of the Kingdom’s premiere spy agency after being abandoned by her adventurer father and the notable swagger she has from reaching those heights is one that’s been earned. The latest kidnap case involving a Dwarven princess see’s her assigned to find out exactly what’s going on and the merest hint that her own father could be involved has her less than convinced that someone is telling the truth.
Along the way she picks up or is assigned allies to watch her back in the form Dave, a less than impressive “Knight”, & Brunhilde, a Dwarven Shieldmaiden, and the trio are soon building a rapport that seems to be the crucial part of achieving their shared goal. Any reluctance in them (I@m looking at you Dave) is swiftly cast aside as the gathering of clues stretches their beliefs further on who could actually be involved in what seems like a random kidnapping.
Outside that core group there is a sea of old & new enemies to consider which tests their fighting skills but a well-rounded team like this has more than enough tricks up their sleeves and that’s before you consider those spy gadgets that they have in reserve. The pursuit of clues takes them across and then outside the Kingdom into unknown territory but there’s no way that they’re looking at giving up now.
Andrew’s story is an impressive one from the start and having the spy element in place is the hook that keeps you coming back to find out more but it’s the fantasy element that then opens up an endless range of possibilities in what will unfold. Bec has a great mix of attributes in her psyche as she pursues those answers and with every flashback to her childhood or early days of training allows us to become more in tune with how she thinks and what she thinks she can achieve. The supporting cast around her and the ever watching enemy in the shadows makes sure that there are still more surprises on the way which is an exciting position to be in when you’re midway through this 5-issue arc.
That’s all given a sense of purpose with Mauricio Mora’s art that is as vibrant & magical as it is dark & mysterious which is the perfect fuel for the blend of spy & fantasy. The world around them crackles with an energy in those fights and then eases into the unknown dark corners to give it the sinister edge it needs. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou injects his lettering & editing duties into the mix and that combo in itself makes sure that there’s not a conversation that’s too long or a fight sound-effect that isn’t too perfect for the situation that’s hitting our core group. Kudos to Rob Jones on that logo design too.
In the end the team behind Damsel offer the perfect mix of contributions to make this feel like more than a specific genre of story, even within the realms of spy & fantasy. Instead it offers humour, intrigue, mystery, and much much more as well as it becomes a book that settles into a groove from the beginning but keeps entertaining from that same position right through. Brilliant stuff.
You can get hold of these three issues as well as the full five issue arc through the campaign link below:
You can also catch-up with the creators on the links below: