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Image's Nomen Omen Takes the Heart Out of Dark Fantasy - Literally
Bea Caicoya
2021-08-07T05:01:22
Nomen Omen
Nomen Omen
Nomen Omen is a dark urban fantasy comic book trilogy set between New York and the Story realm, where Becky Kumar, a brilliant girl with a brand-new Google internship, has her heart literally ripped out of her chest by the ruthless King of the New York Fairy Court... but somehow manages to survive.
Nomen Omen, by Marco B. Bucci (Magna Veritas, Memento Mori) and Jacopo Camagni (X-Men Blue, Deadpool The Duck),  and was first released in Italy by Panini comics before reaching the English-speaking world, which might explain why it's not as widely known as it deserves despite its epic storyline, astonishing art and three compiled volumes translated into English, French, Spanish and Russian, and with second trilogy, called Arcadia, on the way.
Nomen Omen feels like The Sandman in a lot of ways. Like Neil Gaiman's opus, Bucci borrows from mythology, folklore, philosophy and technology to create something entirely new, fresh and completely addictive, while Camagni 's intentional use of colors brings his fantastical scenes to life, from heartwarming homage to Jim Henson's Labyrinth to brutal war scenes, to the dark sensuality inherited from the Manara tradition.
Both Bucci and Camagni exploit the possibilities of the comic book format to tell the story. For instance, Becky, the protagonist,  has monochromacy: she sees the world in shades black and white, a characteristic that she has turned into her greatest asset to become the youngest UX designer at Google. Because in her strange new heartless state, she's able to perceive colors again, particularly when magic is at use. Becky's POV, which starts with precise black and white panels, are drowned in sparkling magentas, poisonous greens and sinister reds as her mastery over her own powers grow. On a second read, the colors become integral to the reader's understanding of the comic's structure, both at a plot and a meta-level. The change in coloring techniques and the change of name of the series -- from Nomen Omen to Arcadia, as it evolves, helps the reader move along from one arc to another, from dark-hued urban fantasy to fantastic neon cyberpunk.
Born from three mothers but raised just by two, Becky Kumar is an untrained witch with reality-bending powers that only activate when she's in mortal danger. This is because every witch must find a way to tap into that source, and what worked for Medea back in the Argonauts days will not work for a 21st-century young'un raised with smartphones and tablets.
This immediately sets Becky's path apart from the dime-a-dozen stories about "Chosen Ones." She's not as much "chosen" as "the only one left," and while she has some allies to help her cross the threshold, they all have their own treasonous agendas - like the mythical druid Fer Doirich, known in Irish legends for turning the object of his unrequited affections into a doe, or Lady Macbeth herself.
The antagonist Fairy King is wonderful -- a rare mix of fairy-classic capriciousness and a ruthless but understandable agenda. He kills, schemes, frolics and broods through a demential no-space of snakes and ladders better than David Bowie himself. He's an absolute ruler to his subjects, and anyone who is under his domain becomes his subject by default, incapable of refusing his commands. But even he has a secret, the price that he had to pay to get to his position, and that secret broke free the night he took Becky's heart.
Now with a translation on its way for the second mega arc of the series, called "Arcadia", Becky Kumar's adventures will introduce mind-bending sci-fi elements, making the saga a mix between Matrix and She-ra, it is a whip-smart rollercoaster and a must-read.
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