Sage of the Riverlands is just an average girl trying to make it in the big city. She shares an apartment with a couple of roommates, works a crappy, data-entry job to pay the bills, and lusts after the cute guy in the apartment upstairs. Sounds like a typical slice of life comedy—the only significant difference is that Sage is a ranger, her BFF is a dwarf warrior, her drug dealing roommate is a lizard wizard, and the cute neighbor guy is an elf. When Lizard Wizard’s light-fingered, half-goblin boyfriend steals from his dank crystal supplier, the group finds itself facing sleazy gangsters, a mall-based ancient death cult, and slacking co-workers. What’s a modern girl to do? Modern Fantasy is part Office Space, part Dungeons & Dragons and all funny.
Writer Rafer Roberts and illustrator Kristen Gudsnuck’s slim tome covers all four issues of the Modern Fantasy comic book released by Dark Horse. Roberts’s world building is thorough regarding life in God’s Helm. From the iScroll phones to the pointless corporate meetings, Modern Fantasy is richly detailed and should appeal to D&D fans, Gen Xers, and disenchanted corporate flunkies.
Gudsnuck, whose previous comic work was in middle grade titles like Best Friends and Henchgirl, does an admirable job with a little more mature content, but her artwork lends a juvenile air to the work. While that’s not all bad, it leaves Modern Fantasy suspended between a lighthearted tween romp and a YA fantasy, unable to process mature themes like druggie roommates, crappy cubicle farms, and disappointing adulthood.
It still makes for a charming, funny read that would fit in a YA or adult graphic novel collection. Some of the references may not translate to all age groups and the artwork might throw off adult readers, but the work itself doesn’t miss the mark.
By Rafer Roberts
Art by Kristen Gudsnuk
Dark Horse, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: OT (16+)