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Beyond Real 3 Cover Crop
Courtesy of Vault Comics

Comic Books

‘Beyond Real’ #3 is beautiful and wonderous

‘I guess even something damaged or broken can also be beautiful.’

I could look at Beyond Real #3 all day long, just staring at the breathtaking art, searching every inch for more wonderful little details or leaning back to take in all the spectacular colors. The art alone – most by Vincenzo Riccardi – makes this an amazing issue. I’m tempted to simply fill this review with image after image without really writing anything about the comic.

Riccardi creates living landscapes on each page. Everything from waterfalls to hillsides to trees become beautiful anthropomorphic figures. The longer you look, the more stunning details you’ll find. Rushing water is actually a stampede of liquid steers. Clouds become air serpents. Trees look down with either a nurturing or annoyed expression. You’ll want to lose yourself in these amazing images.

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Beyond Real #3

Vault Comics

But not only Riccardi’s pages are spectacular. The first introductory page by artist Fabiana Mascolo and colorist Jordie Bellaire – the main artists of issue #1 – also hits all the right notes. It could be used in a lesson on body language and facial expressions. I mean, just look at June – the main protagonist – biting her lower lip.

Beyond Real #3

Vault Comics

And Dennis Manheere’s final three pages change things up compared to Riccardi’s style, but only by creating an equally captivating landscape. Just as I found myself growing accustomed to the stunning, surreal style of Riccardi, June and her companions enter a new layer of reality and Manheere gets me to open my eyes wide and say, “Wow!” once again.

Beyond Real #3

Vault Comics

As much as the drawings themselves are beautiful, I think the colors really take everything to the next level. Riccardi’s psychedelic, neon-infused colors fit perfectly to the otherworldly beauty of the living landscapes. The sky burns in violent reds and yellows. The ground and plants are infused with bright purples. Raindrops are streaks of neon rainbows. I could imagine turning most pages into awesome blacklight posters.

Beyond Real #3

Vault Comics

Furthermore, as he so often does, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou makes his lettering a part of the visual art. In each section, he changes up the style to match the art, for example, more traditional word-balloons for the “normal” reality of Mascolo’s page. In the main section, he matches Riccardi’s vibrant colors by giving each character’s word-balloons an individual background color. The balloon’s tails also become livelier in the otherworldly settings.

Beyond Real as a whole series has a very Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland concept. But, this issue more than the first two really feels like a crazy journey through a fantastic wonderland. And that’s not just because of the art. Basically, Zack Kaplan’s story simply follows June and her new companions, Dawn and Rishi, as they wander through this plane of reality, searching for…well, figuring out what they’re searching for is part of the process.

Beyond Real #3

Vault Comics

June, of course – having realized her reality was just a computer simulation in issue #1 – is still searching for ‘The Source,’ hoping their administrative rights can save her lover, Eli, from death. In essence, the book is about searching for God, our creator, and accordingly, the purpose to life.

But in this issue, the characters are completely lost – albeit in a beautiful setting – openly questioning whether a Creator exists or if life has any meaningful direction. Here, Kaplan returns to the themes of pain and suffering. Together with the characters, we are led to wonder how we can suffer despite the beauty surrounding us. Moreover, we are encouraged to find beauty even in the pain.

We also, fortunately, get to know June’s two new companions, Dawn and Rishi, in more depth. We learn a bit more about their backstory and how they feel about this search for a higher power. It’s revealed that they also may have reasons for seeking changes that only ‘The Source’ can grant.

Beyond Real #3

Vault Comics

Then again, just as in the first two issues, the whole story can be interpreted as a metaphor for the artistic process. This issue shows us how trying to create art can often feel like being completely lost. Or maybe it’s suggesting that every artistic process grows out of a search for something beyond – a truth, a beauty or even a higher power.

Consequently, the thematic and character developments in Beyond Real #3 are a great improvement over the somewhat disappointing second issue. It’s still not quite up to the standards of the absolutely incredible first issue, as this one standard-sized issue once again doesn’t offer enough space to explore everything extensively.

In conclusion, you should pick up Beyond Real #3 simply for the amazing art by Vincenzo Riccardi, especially if you love lively, surreal landscapes in neon-tinged, blacklight-ready colors. As I said at the beginning, I could spend hours just staring at these pages. Moreover, Kaplan fills the breathtaking scenes with much needed character development as well as interesting musings on the main themes of the story. And we finally get a cliffhanger that has me anxious for the next issue.

Beyond Real 3 Cover Crop
‘Beyond Real’ #3 is beautiful and wonderous
Beyond Real #3
You should pick up 'Beyond Real' #3 simply for the amazing art by Vincenzo Riccardi, especially if you love lively, surreal landscapes in neon-tinged, blacklight-ready colors. Moreover, Kaplan fills the breathtaking scenes with much needed character development as well as interesting musings on the main themes of the story.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.9
Absolutely breathtaking art on nearly every page.
Great harmony of art with the narrative themes.
Deep musings about beauty and pain.
The lettering becomes a part of the art.
Probably not for everyone’s taste in comics.
Some themes only touched on rather than thoroughly explored.
9
Great

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