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'Parliament of Rooks' #1 review
comiXology Originals

Comic Books

‘Parliament of Rooks’ #1 review

Does Abigail Jill Harding make a smooth transition from illustrator to writer?

The collective term “a parliament of rooks” lies in the fact that rooks are most seen in flocks and will sometimes form large groups in which one bird will speak at length. There is also another term, “a murder of crows”, that is naturally associated with death. Numerous authors have told stories that reflect on the myths and history of these phrases, such as Neil Gaiman, who wrote an issue titled “The Parliament of Rooks” for his Sandman series. And now, Abigail Jill Harding is putting her own spin on said parliament. 

Coming off the heels of Ask For Mercy for ComiXology Originals, Harding’s latest venture with the digital publisher is her first series as both artist and writer. The story centers on architect Darius Ravenscar, who wakes from a strange and troubling dream, only to dismiss it and attends a masquerade ball in the city of Eborvik thrown by Princess Seraphina, the daughter of King Sitric, Lord of the Four Vales. However, the dream starts to become a nightmare for Darius, who goes through quite the monstrous transformation. 

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Throughout the 34-page issue, Harding brings a lot of intrigue in various story developments that will be interesting to see unravel throughout the series. As the opening pages show us the possible fate of these two star-crossed lovers, we flash back to their youthful years where their land is going through an industrial transition. As much as Darius and Seraphina wish to build a library, her tyrannical father believes in a future where technology will reign without a care towards mother nature. 

'Parliament of Rooks' #1 review
ComiXology

While the fantasy setting and central romance are rooted in Victorian Gothic like Wuthering Heights, Harding treats it more like a dark fairy tale, focusing on a man who doesn’t know about his own family history and slowly becomes a monstrous being who, based on the final pages, will be a plague upon the city. Speaking of monstrous, the story feels like an extension of the Universal Classic Monsters formula, not just because of the book’s black-and-white presentation. 

Whereas Ask For Mercy was a fun mashup of historical settings and monster spectacle, the first issue of Parliament of Rooks feels more elegant in how it is paced, and that elegance is also apparent in the art. The book is full of a variety of influences that Harding weaves, from the extravagant costume design to the architecture of Eborvik itself, all of which looks like a combination of Victorian Gothic and German Expressionism.

Abigail Jill Harding succeeds as both artist and writer with the masterful debut issue of Parliament of Rooks, a multi-faceted narrative that will be exciting to see unravel in the coming months.

'Parliament of Rooks' #1 review
‘Parliament of Rooks’ #1 review
Parliament of Rooks #1
Abigail Jill Harding succeeds as both artist and writer with the masterful debut issue of Parliament of Rooks, a multi-faceted narrative that will be exciting to see unravel in the coming months.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.8
With a longer page count, Harding elegantly establishes a lot of story that makes you excited to read what comes next.
Combining numerous influences from horror, dark fantasy, Gothic, romance, etc., Harding stunningly weaves it all through her unique art-style.
From the various stages of Darius' crow-like appearances, to the flock itself as a recurring presence, you're gonna get a lot of black bird action.
Have to wait a month for the next issue.
10
Fantastic

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