Welcome to Asunda, an ‘Untamed’ land

Oasis is a town once ruled by a man who carried relentless hatred. Despite this, there was still hope for his soul with the aid of his wife and daughter by his side. The three of them were murdered, but the man was given a second chance in the afterlife. For him, death was only the beginning.

“The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer” is a comic book series of seven issues written by Sebastian A. Jones and illustrated by Peter Bergting, released under publishing company Stranger Comics.

Perhaps a hint of dedication toward the company’s name itself, this dark and mysterious tale spans across seven days, where a man, simply known as the Stranger, seeks to harvest seven souls. If he succeeds in this endeavor, upon the eighth day he will be free. However, if the Stranger fails, “he” will come and find him.

All seven releases signify the corresponding day of the Stranger’s undertaking, where the first issue’s cover inscribes a poetic passage: “The Hand that paints the face that laughs / Borrows sorrow from my past. / Fools in red have lain to bed / Her smile, my name, our whisper.”

Jones’ story takes place in the fantasy realm of Asunda: a vast land with historic origins developed over decades with numerous cultures existing over more than a thousand years. The Stranger returns to the town of Oasis after 10 years to fulfill a deal he has made.

Dark, ghost-like opening imagery suspends the reader in a black and white world, as the Stranger makes his way back to town, transitioning to canyon sunset. He talks of killing a man, as well as describing a girl he once knew and made a promise to, one she wouldn't remember.

The Stranger, along with many of the characters, dresses in dark clothes with a cloak and a robe surrounding his entire body, his face being the only thing visible most of the time. He looks like he belongs in “Assassin’s Creed,” except instead of carrying hidden blades in his forearm sleeves, he keeps a wrapped up weapon on his back.

Day one begins with his arrival to Oasis, where people live in fear at night. He speaks of seeking out a blacksmith who last forged his sword over a decade ago. The blacksmith calls the blade “soul of ice,” remembering the last person to wield it was a member of The Kraven, a guild formed of killers.

Readers are introduced to the first of several other prominent characters with the young woman named Niobe. Her eyes are different colors, brown and blue, at which they remind the Stranger of his daughter.

The first issue includes music notes for a song, “Stranger’s Theme,” with the rest of the graphic novel featuring insight and story background provided in text by the author. “What you hold in your hands I hold dear to my heart,” writes Jones. “‘The Untamed’ is a real and uncompromising tale set in Asunda, a fantasy world that reflects the best and worst of us all.”

This theme stays consistent throughout each issue, as the author relies heavily on a thought-provoking narrative, leaving the readers to question who to trust and constantly referencing earlier elements in the story by providing twists, unraveling secrets and heavy doses of action sequences to be entertained by.

Bergting’s artwork is splendidly vivid, as the imagery in the action scenes is particularly graphic, but also drawn out to a necessary length to create well done conflict struggle. However, a few battles in the middle are sometimes hard to follow as many characters have similar outfits and color scheme, making it difficult to separate them aside from a few distinguishing features.

What starts off as slow-paced development of a few characters evolves into a story filled with various persons of interest, especially those who are still around from when the Stranger last roamed the town, creating dynamics of past and present with trials of loyalty and love.

Upon conclusion, there are in-depth character biographies and a host of fan artwork on the last 20 pages of the final issue. The first issue is available to view for free via the iTunes store, Amazon Kindle edition and Nook Book. It can be purchased for less than $1 via Google play, Nook and Android app.

While questions are constantly being raised, the answers are rewarding and intriguing, with seemingly everything of concern ending up addressed in the close. Engaging, shadowy and hopeful, “The Untamed: A Sinner’s Prayer” delivers on every level with a craving for more left to be desired.