Review: Disenchanted TP Vol 1
This is another case of me being too busy to fully read a book when it was released but sampling enough to think, "hmm, yes, this is good, will buy." And then putting it in a pile for roughly eight years and just now finally reading through the damn thing. On one hand, not the best way of doing things. On the other, it's sort of like past me is continually giving future presents to current me, so yay?
Anywho, Disenchanted is an interesting urban fantasy series that's both engaging and depressing. It follows the inhabitants of Vermintown, a vast underground city for all of the different tiny fantasy creatures such as fairies, goblins, brownies, leprechauns, and more. As the modern world started to gobble up their ecosystems and magic slowly started to fade away, many migrated to this city in the hopes of starting fresh, only to be swallowed up by gangland violence, interracial hatred, corrupt politics and social class systems, and the proliferation of drugs. So y'know, like humans.
The core story follows one family of fairies and their different levels of disenchantment with life as a whole. Their matriarch is the oldest fairy in the city and considered a spiritual leader, who herself has lost a faith she never quite had in the first place. Her son is essentially the equivalent of a city councilman who's in deep with moneylenders, while her daughter is in the police force. Meanwhile, her two grandsons are part of a generation living between the worlds of tradition and modernization, one kid completely tired of the hypocrisy of the old ways while the other is being tempted by the their cultures purist (and generally racists) aspects.
The scripting is tight and sets up a great pace that flows between the different family members while nicely developing the backdrop of the city and the lore. I'm a fan of Spurrier's storytelling in general as I always felt that his dialogue and scripts had the same beats as Warren Ellis or Peter Milligan but without any of the arrogance or condescension. He comes off as more sincere in his work, and that's something I truly appreciate.
German Erramouspe's style is not necessarily one I would have gravitated to initially if this were any other project, but as the story progresses his art is a great fit. It captures the dilapidation of the city perfectly, highlighting the sleaze and filth of Vermintown and giving each character a sad lived-in realness that fuses with the fantasy design work.
Disenchanted delivers on a solid concept but finds its strength in highlighting a very broken humanity in supernatural creatures. Every core character, while deeply flawed, is trying to survive in the worst of circumstances and is pushed the the limit. There's an element of social and mental exhaustion that's ever percolating and that infuses the conflict and drama with a sense of genuine emotion. I really wasn't expecting that in an Avatar series with drug dealing leprechauns and sexually frustrated elderly fairies, so I consider this a home run.