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‘Forgotten Home, Volume 1: Family Matters’ (review)

Written by Erica Schultz
Art by Marika Cresta
Published by ComiXology/Dark Horse Comics

 

A ComiXology Originals digital series collected in print, Forgotten Home mixes space fantasy with family drama to produce a potent tale of social ills via generational burdens and breaking the cycle.

What begins as a detective story about missing children escalates quickly, as small-town sherriff’s deputy Lorraine displays magic powers and reveals how the source of her powers are connected to her being an alien from another world.

Schultz spins a yarn in which saving the princess is meant to save the world, but because the princess herself is the savior. However, lies and manipulation both created the horrible situation on her home planet that Lorraine left behind, and play into a conflict that pits her own daughter against her.

Part of what makes the story work is how Schultz manages to put us in the minds of Lorraine, our protagonist; her daughter, Joanna; and Rani, queen and Lorraine’s mother. Most comics would trip up its own story and momentum by employing this technique, but here it works to create empathy toward Lorraine and Joanna while further turning the reader against Rani.

What does get in the way, at times, is how frequently this story relies on flashbacks to move the plot forward.

Rather than using the present to illustrate characters’ motivations and histories, the flashbacks just put us there. The story is attempting to discuss how the past makes the present. I wonder if a more ambitious storytelling approach would have been to consolidate a bunch of these flashbacks. Any character we initially meet in a flashback was sure to surface in the present, often as a big reveal or cliffhanger. I came to expect it, as it repeated a few times.

Cresta’s art delivers straightforward sequential storytelling that also knows how to convey the emotions scene to scene. When Lorraine realizes Joanna is missing, an establishing panel depicts Lorraine from overhead, emphasizing how alone she is. Or when she first portals back to her homeworld, our first panel of modern-day Rani is from Lorraine’s kneeling vantage point. A major plot point in this story involves Rani conscripting children to fight in a war, and Cresta does a fine job drawing teenagers and younger children.

Overall, Forgotten Home briskly and confidently conjures a whole world with compelling characters while centering Lorraine in various shades of gray that keep the story interesting. Things get more complicated with each page, in a good way.

 

Grade: B+

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