Old school epic fantasies about underdogs rising up have been my go to since The Wheel Of Time started spinning. Helm is a high fantasy series that centers on an awkward college dropout whose every action and decision will shape the future of the world he lives in. And what a beautiful world at that.
So far on their journey, the group has been at odds with genocidal law enforcement that are trying to wipe out “magick-makers”, have run down snowy cliff faces without falling (which is in direct defiance of the laws of gravity and clumsiness), and met many of the fascinating races that populate this world. Jehanzeb Hasan has written us a world filled with the extraordinary. We’ve seen Downers, Hobbits, Goblins! I mean, the troll is a worried mamabear who makes coffee. How is that not perfect?
Of course, we have Mauricio Caballero to thank for these beautiful illustrations, whose detailed backgrounds can provide readers with hours of fun analysis. I tutted over Eldrick’s messiness (who puts a magnifying glass on the floor) and wondered what on earth the quill in his case was for, when he was drawing with a pen. I bonded with Eldrick’s father over his owl statue and was intrigued that this fantasy steampunk world has chess pieces. It is a lived-in story, that feels as if it could be your mess of a life. In a nutshell, the worldbuilding has been nothing short of legendary.
At 91 pages in, we have yet to see too much complexity to the characters, but a lot has been hinted at. Backstory appears in teaser conversations, but the focus of Helm thus far has been on the action, the chase. And what a chase it is. There isn’t a dull moment in Helm, and whether or not Jehanzeb will be able to fit the characters in around the action is something I hope to see happen soon. I expect it will since storytelling doesn’t seem to be a shortfall here, as Helm definitely isn’t lacking in the humour department.
Last month, Helm entered the running for an Eisner award in the best Digital Comics 2017 category. Only 1 day remains in the voting process, with votes from Comic Creators closing at midnight PDT on June 16th. The category is slightly muddled as Helm should come under Webcomic rather than Digital Comic, but those lines are so easily blurred. After all, only 2 of Helm’s running mates –“Bandette” and “Universe!”– are strictly digital comics (comics read via downloading), while “On A Sunbeam” has always titled itself a webcomic (available to read on webpages), and “Edison Rex” has recently reinvented itself as a webcomic. Despite this confusing categorisation, Helm’s acknowledgement by the awards committee is a nod towards it as a comic to watch out for.
After all, they created a teaser trailer for a webcomic. Seriously, who does that? Not that I’m complaining, as it looks like an old school point and click adventure in the vein of Monkey Island that I would really like to play.