Victory Doesn’t Guarantee A Pay Raise In Modern Fantasy #4

by Josh Davison

[**Minor Spoilers Ahead for Modern Fantasy #4]

We receive a glimpse of Sage’s childhood as she and her party ready themselves to take on the Balrog in the mall. Bock-Darr charges in first, but Sage holds the others back as they try to form a plan. The fate of the world hangs in the balance, and it’s up to our heroes to save it. In the end, Lizard Wizard is the key to victory, but his powers are still on the fritz.

Modern Fantasy #4 cover by Kristen Gudsnuk
Modern Fantasy #4 cover by Kristen Gudsnuk

Modern Fantasy concludes with #4, and it ends in a manner that is distinctly suited to this fantasy-by-way-of-The-Office story.
There is a big bad final boss battle, but that’s not the very end of the tale, as there is an epilogue that shows how everything turns out. The mundanity of modern life strikes again in the epilogue, and we see how inescapable our Kafkaesque reality truly is.
That aside, the moment of glory that is the battle against the Balrog does produce its fair share of fun and surprising moments of brutality. A lot of people burn to death in the Balrog’s wake, and the cuteness of the visuals can almost fool you into forgetting that this is a world where people still die and can drop the f-bomb a lot.
Modern Fantasy #4 art by Kristen Gudsnuk
Modern Fantasy #4 art by Kristen Gudsnuk

Kristen Gudsnuk’s art style is really frigging cute. Even the Balrog has a vague endearing quality to its appearance, and this includes the second half of the fight where it has another head and arm growing out of its neck. The costume designs of our heroic leads are a nice mixture of D&D archetypes mixed with sweatbands, glasses, and other modern accoutrements. The color palette is wild and vibrant, adding to the wackiness of the tale.
Modern Fantasy #4 has a near-perfect ending for its premise, themes, and story. Yes, we have a moment of glory and heroism for Sage and her friends, but we also have the reminder that reality must set in again before long. We can be happy, but we still must navigate the real world. For this enjoyable ending and an overall delightfully off-beat tale, this comic earns a recommendation. I definitely suggest giving it a read.
Modern Fantasy #4 is from writer Rafer Roberts and artist and cover artist Kristen Gudsnuk and published by Dark Horse Comics.

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