Writer Asa Wheatley and artist Kat Willott have created a twist on a story and genre that has seemingly been tapped until now. In this first issue of Tails of Mystery, titled The Amulet of Thar’ishdom Part 1, we meet Steph, Wyatt, and Drake. Wyatt is our protagonist, a retired cop and alcoholic private investigator. Drake is Wyatt’s former partner, and Steph is Wyatt’s adopted daughter. Their relationships to each other are made very clear from the start. Something happened between Drake and Wyatt that caused their split, but they both still care about each other and Steph. There is a lot of odd pacing with exposition and flashbacks in the very beginning of the issue, but the clunk is out of the way quickly as we get into the meat of the story.
When Wyatt decides to go investigate a dead woman’s home alone, and Steph, worried about him, calls in Drake to help. The characters are all clearly important to each other, and the trouble they get in together only strengthens their bonds. There is also a cute bonus story called World Weary: Breakfast Rage about an orc named Atlas and a dwarf named Roy. The odd pair team up to protect their breakfast against an ogre. It’s a fun addition that feels like Wheatley and Willott wanted to tell a story about their D&D characters.
The comic succeeds in telling a new twist on the typical noir detective story. Steph, Drake, and Wyatt are interesting characters that have clear motivations and relationships. Unfortunately, the story gets bogged down with clunky exposition dumps and dialog taking up way too much of the panels. I don’t believe we needed so much of the backstory in the first issue, and instead could have it be fleshed out in later issues, just to cut back on the heavy exposition dumps. Steph, Drake, and Wyatt are all clear in their motivations and relationships without the flashbacks. The art could definitely use some work, with characters’ proportions being vastly different between panels. Serious moments are undercut by odd body shapes. Where Willott fails with people, she succeeds with backgrounds. I was disappointed in panels that were lacking in the background because of how great and detailed the wider shots were. She creates a clear image of the seemingly dark world in which this story takes place with every set piece.
Tails of Mystery is obviously a good start to a story I see a lot of potential in. It’s funny, charming, and doesn’t ever take itself too seriously, as a lot of stories in the noir genre seem to forget to do. I have high hopes with both of these creators. They have great ideas and I can see the talent. This is an exciting start to a new twist on an old genre. I’m excited to see them grow and develop as creators, and interested to see where Tails of Mystery goes from here.
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