Reading Pile: Nomen Omen Vol 1 TP
I read the first two issues of this series when Image first released them back around late 2019, and while I loved the art and was interested in some of the set-up I also found myself not caring too much for the pacing. Like a lot of books during that time, I held off on continuing the single issues and planned to read the collected bundle eventually to see if that format complimented the story a bit more. The short answer is yes, but I still really wished the pacing in the first couple issues was a bit tighter.
The story is an urban fantasy that focuses on Rebecca Kumar, a 21 year old with achromatopsia who lives in Manhattan. While celebrating her birthday she's confronted by a creature who rips out her heart, but instead of immediately dying she falls down the rabbit hole of an altered reality where gods war in New York. She's slowly drawn into the struggles of a mix of Irish mythological characters and in the meantime is trying to understand her new status as a witch while trying to figure out how to survive from her missing heart problem.
There are a lot of elements here that I really enjoyed, but the roll out of information acted as a little bit of a barrier for me. For instance, and this just might be me, but I cared less about Rebecca overall due to the story not really starting with her. We are initially introduced to her two mothers in 1995, who while on a road trip stumbled across a car accident and found an injured pregnant women. This is all set-up to get us to Becky, but the thing is I liked the intro so much that I cared more about her mothers. And we see them a couple more times as well, so I was left wishing we could just spend more time with them.
I think the other reason I felt that was because Becky herself comes off as a little bland for me, and that may just be due to the pacing. This does feel like a slow character development arc and it's a three volume set, so it may just require more patience.
There a decent rollout of supporting cast, the bulk of Becky's friends getting time early on but then fading a bit to make room for the myth based characters to shine. Central among them being Fer, the guardian of Central Park but also the fiend of the Fenian Cycle of mythology. We also get Lady Macbeth and Maeve, all generally antagonists who are now Becky's only allies. The story does a great job of humanizing and modernizing them, leaving you wanting to explore them all just a a bit more.
Visually I absolutely love the book. Camagni's fluid lines and prominent design work and facial expressions are really engaging, while the coloring decision to represent most of the world through Becky's eyes in monochromatic terms works incredibly well. Once reality shifts and magical elements become more and more prominent we see a nice blending of the different tones and it all just makes everything pop. They utilize this to also explain her understanding of magic and to work in the importance of names in magical terms.
Despite whatever issues I may have about the pacing at the start, I did find myself fully engaged by the end and desiring to pick up the next volume. Part of that is my general enjoyment of urban fantasy, plus the fact that we don't get too much Irish mythology represented in comics. There's a decent amount of queer representation as well, something that I hope will get expanded upon as the story progresses.
If you're a fan of books like Wicked & Divine or any modern American mythology mashups like American Gods, this should be very much up your alley. I think it's entirely worth checking out just for Camagni's artwork as well, and I just think he's a stellar talent. First volume is clocks in at 160 pages for $16.99, which is a pretty decent price for a solid chunk of reading. The series is finished now with a total of three volumes so you can also zoom right through if you enjoy the first installment.