Review: ‘Amelia Cole and the Hidden War’

Written by: DJ Kirkbride & Adam P Knave

Art by: Nick Brokenshire

AC_v2_01When last we left our heroine, Amelia Cole had transported to another world where the internet doesn’t exist (gasp!) and magic is much more common. In navigating this new world, Amelia’s propensity to help her fellow man brought her into conflict with the Protector, a civil servant appointed by the Magistrate to uphold the law with magic. Hector, the Protector (yes, that’s actually his name) made his conflict with Amelia personal and was defeated by her in combat – prompting The Magistrate to elect her as the new Protector!

Amelia Cole and the Hidden War is the second volume in the chronicles of Amelia Cole by DJ Kirkbride, Adam P Knave, and Nick Brokenshire. ( It’s not required, but definitely recommended, to go back and read Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, the first volume in the story.) First discovered (inadvertently) as part of the #CS100, Amelia Cole was initially described as, “Touching and effective stuff. Definitely want more.” The second volume in the series definitely ramps up the action and serves as a setup for a much bigger story to involve Cole, the Magistrate…and the former Protector.

It is by way of the latter character that we are introduced to an entirely different plot thread, as Hector, the former Protector (sorry, that never gets old) is now seen as part of a military company out in the desert hunting monsters. In the setting of the story, this nearly feels out of place among the rest of the book and almost threatens to take the reader out of it. It is realized by the end – and this is as close to a spoiler as we’ll come – that yes, the adventures of Hector and Omega Company are definitely tied in to Amelia and what’s going on back in her city. There’s even a middle chapter where a connection is made but seems to be abandoned…for now. Jarring as the sequences may be going back and forth, it’s important to understand that there is some world-building and some definite setup happening in this volume.

As far as Cole is concerned, much of the Hidden War volume is spent seeing Amelia adjusting to her new life as the city’s Protector. Amelia defends the citizens from threats as well as picking up clues that her boss may be even more untrustworthy than even she feels. The interactions with the Magistrate and the Council confirm as much, but the mysteries established with those three central figures in the story build intrigue for what’s to come.

Kirkbride and Knave do a wonderful job building toward the future, but certainly have one foot planted firmly in characterization as well. The biggest strength of their handling of Amelia Cole is making her so relatable. Many writers meet with varying levels of success, but Kirkbride and Knave nail it here. Amelia feels like a normal girl the reader can easily relate to caught in extraordinary situations. Seeing how she responds is almost like answering, “what would I do in that situation?” The fact we can see that is very endearing and one of the book’s biggest strengths. The flashback sequences with Amelia help to establish her motivations and build a stronger connection to the character.

Of course, evoking that kind of response also falls chiefly on the artist, and Nick Brokenshire’s main strength is facial expressions and body language. We can see what Amelia and all of the other players in the story are thinking and feeling very clearly at all times. Brokenshire also handles action well, though some of the battles in the desert can get a tad confusing. This only affects a few panels, as the action is larlgely clear enough to follow. There’s improvement in those as the story moves long as well.

Amelia Cole and the Hidden War involves some definite setup and world-building, but also serves as a great second volume to the Amelia Cole story. Some of the sequences, be they in tying the plot together or with the battles, can be a little dissonant but at the end of the day, all is made clear. The character building is excellent and it’s plain to see the heavy action and the seemingly unrelated threads of the plot are all coming together in one nice tapestry. Amelia Cole and the Hidden War, available digitally on ComiXology or in print at Amazon, earns 4 out of 5 Giant Dog vs. Golem Street Fights.

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Michael Melchor has covered pop culture in all its forms for several publications and websites, including BackStage Pass magazine, 411Mania.com, and Examiner.com. He's been an avid comics reader since Barry Allen was first put on trial for the death of Professor Zoom. He's also been an avid wrestling fan since Dusty Rhodes beat Harley Race for the NWA World Championship. He now brings his fandom of comics, music, and wrestling to PanelsOnPages.com.

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