Ever had one of those days where nothing seems to go right and to top it off, you run into a weird bear with horns that seems determined to kill you? That was Norah’s first day on the job as an Agent of the Realm. Finding a strange amulet, she becomes endowed with the power of the Void, the leader of the Agents who the gateway hidden within Silvermount, the local mountain that connects the realms. Finding the other four Agents —Adele, Kendall, Paige, Jordan— Norah begins to learn how to defend the realms from Jade Blackwater, the last person with knowledge on the amulets. However, Jade’s twin sister, Ruby is seeking the amulets for herself, hoping to use the power to unlock the Alchemist, a powerful sorcerer who caused the division between realms long ago. Like it or not, Norah isn’t going to breeze through freshman year like she hoped.
Created in 2014 by Mildred Louis, Agents of the Realm takes the Magical Girl genre and turns it on its head. Right from the start, Louis disregards the usual tropes, with Norah not being too happy with the forced job title. In fact, Norah is the antithesis of an MG—cynical, sarcastic, and more concerned with catching up on sleep than fighting monsters. But as the story progresses, she begins to accept her role as a leader. Louis keeps the cast varied with opposing and complementary personalities for the other Agents. Adele, a Brazilian, is challenged with going to school in a different country, but constantly looks on the positive side of things. Kendall can seem flighty at first but is superb at getting close to people. Paige, though focused to the point of tunnel vision at times, is determined to reach all goals. Jordan is reliable, but can sometimes run into divided loyalties when trying to please everyone. While all five have admirable qualities for warriors, they are still young collegians who need to learn how to interact with friends and as a team.
Louis’ artwork uses fine lines and details, going for realism despite the fantasy overtones. Each character has defined individual features; Louis even goes so far to create new clothes for each day, rather than go with the same costume every day. The coloring is normal, even in regards to fantasy, so no purple skin or blue hair, unless the character uses hair dye. Louis uses shadows very well, such as the natural shading when hair falls across the face or when wearing a hat, adding depth to facial expressions.
Besides portraying her characters as young modern women and not overly cheerful damsels, Louis has a multi-racial cast. But rather than creating a token person for each specific race, her characters are not as distinct. Like the society of today, people are mixed, blurring the lines, and reflective of that, the characters are more concerned with avoiding death and defeating evil creatures than what their teammates’ heritage is. Characters of different sexual orientations are not only present it is an accepted part of life. Again, there are more important priorities at stake.
Agents of the Realm is about five magical girls swept up on a crazy adventure. Read it at AgentsoftheRealm.com.