A Distant Soil

Book 1: The Gathering

Book 2: The Ascendant

Vol. 1Written and Drawn by Colleen Doran

Publisher: Image Comics

Format: Softcover, full color, 7 x 10 (each) Book 1: $19.95, Book 2: $18.95

Category: Young Adult Fantasy

Dewey: FIC DOR

Subjects: Comic books, strips, etc.; Fantasy: fiction; Science fiction

ISBN-13: Book 1: 978-1-88727-951-2 Book 2: 978-1-58240-018-1

Reviewed by: Kat Kan

Doran has created a beautifully illustrated, byzantine story, which can appeal to fans of Dune and other science fiction/fantasy epics. Using lush black and white artwork which can entice romance readers, she tells a story which reaches across the genres. The story opens with Jason and Liana, two teens living in the Martin Institute for Mental Health and Research where heartless scientists observe and test them; they can communicate telepathically with each other, and they have other, more destructive powers that the scientists wish to control. The orphans escape only to run into muggers, police, and strange and beautiful aliens.

Rieken and D'mer come from a distant planet called Ovanan; they save all but Jason from other Ovanans who have come to capture Liana. The teens' father was an Ovanan who escaped execution and landed on Earth; Jason has inherited his father's disruptor powers, while Liana possesses the power of the Avatar. That’s the problem: Ovanan can have only one Avatar, so Liana must die.

Vol. 2Unknown to them, Rieken is actually Seren the Avatar of Ovanan, and he doesn't want to kill Liana; he wants her help to change Ovanan. He recruits Brent (the mugger), Minetti (the cop), and others, including Galahad, who stumbles into the future through a mysterious Gateway, and Lady Bast, another Ovanan escapee, to help him take over his own ship and try to change Ovanan society and end the inequalities and inhumane treatments meted out to any deemed "inferior." Meanwhile, Jason has been taken to the ship but is taken again by rebels who seek to use his disruptor power to destroy the Avatar and gain freedom. Then there is Sere, one of the ruling Hierarchy, who has her own political and personal plans that also involve killing the Avatar.

Doran weaves plot within plot in a complex and compelling pattern that leaves the reader desperately seeking the next volume. Deep social and political stories combine with rip-roaring action, romance, betrayal, passion and hate peopled with fascinatingly complex characters in an epic fantasy adventure which older teens and adults will love.