Cover to ‘Ether: Death of the Last Golden Blaze’ TPB. Art by David Rubín/Dark Horse Comics

By Kaitlin BeerEther is a lesson in sacrifice that takes the reader through a sci-fi fantasy realm adjacent to our own. In this world, magic is the catch-all reasoning given for anything and everything, from how the innocuous (how we get around) to the severe (murder).

The main protagonist, Boone Dias, is a man of science on a quest to explain away every unknown, particularly the mysteries he has discovered in the realm of the Ether. Bordering on fanatical, his search for understanding has led him on a journey across its vast landscape. He does not accept magic as an answer to anything, which has made him particularly valuable in the Ether for his detective skills, even if he is despised for his skepticism. Called upon once again to solve a crime, Boone finds himself confronting his past life on Earth through the course of his investigation.

The luxury of experiencing Ether in trade format gave me a second look at its world as a whole. As the reader travels with Boone, reality begins to seep in through the seams. Reading Ether is akin to watching a time-lapse of a classic film where the hero turns into a villain and back again, but on a never-ending loop. Between issues, Boone and his actions fell into a more comedic place in my mind as I found myself remembering his tone-deaf, academic remarks to other characters. An emotional shape-shifter, the first volume of Ether offers an opportunity to see Boone with slightly more clarity, as the time between monthly issues may soften the effect of some of the more visually presented revelations about his character.

Sassier than other fantasy offerings and featuring more color and brilliant situations than the usual Kindt work, Ether is a fantasy crime series that commands the reader’s attention on all levels. Rubín’s artwork and coloring offer a style that is the perfect visual match for a title that is truly both fantasy and crime. Creatures shift from cute to eerie to menacing in quick turns, the coloring acts almost as a distraction in line with the magic world it is painting — an iridescent film thinly obfuscating a grim world of crime and decay.

The collection also contains bonus content that features some of Rubín’s other ideas for characters and elements within the Ether. Original character concepts and a short story featuring the main cast make for some of the best extras, capping off a first volume that is well worth revisiting before diving back into the world of Ether this summer.

Dark Horse Comics/$14.99

Written by Matt Kindt.

Art by David Rubín.

Edited by Daniel Chabon.

8 out of 10

You can order ‘Ether Volume 1: Death of the Last Golden Blaze’ TPB here.

‘Ether: Copper Golems’ #1 is in stores now.