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Friday, June 29, 2007

The Portent:Duende, published by Image Comics, 128 pages, $12.99


Having reviewed issue one of this limited series months ago, I returned to it upon it’s release as a trade paperback collection. I’m glad I did. Writer/artist Peter Bergting may be new to the comics industry, this being his first project, but his is one of the finest debuts I have ever witnessed.

The Portent is a thrilling journey. A breathtaking adventure. An explanation of heroism. It is all of those things, and more. Readers who embark upon this mission with main character Milo to save a world from the demon Guishen are likely to find themselves rooted to the spot ‘til the last page. I know I was.

The characterization is a true achievement, resulting in interesting players and intriguing secrets. Milo is an unlikely hero, and readers shouldn’t take him at face value. He could even be called a “usurper.” Without saying anything further plot-wise, I will say that it’s always satisfying/gratifying/spellbinding to be the recipient of the literary equivalent of a good curve ball. And, that Bergting has quite an “arm.”

Ultimately, however, his story is about redemption and sacrifice. And it works. Readers are likely to experience a range of different emotions concerning Milo throughout the course of the story. That possibility notwithstanding, I’m betting they’ll see him in the role of hero by story’s end. Let me just express it one more time: That Bergting can WRITE!

His artwork is also impressive and truly beautiful. Conveying the wonderful contrast of a world still clinging to hope, reflected in amazing use of colors (buoying the mood), and a world overtaken by evil, marked by the dark and dismal use of blacks, Bergting has demonstrated a near-mastery of using art to compliment a story and convey emotional settings.

The Portent: Duende is recommended for all but the youngest readers. Find it at comic book shops, bookstores and online retailers and auctions. To find your nearest local comic book store, call 1-888-comicbook.

Mark Allen