SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10 BY SEBASTIAN GIRNER AND GALAAD
Plot
Art
Characterization
Summary
SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10 explores themes of ostracism, trauma, and rebellion. The addition of new antagonists in the form of the council adds yet another interesting wrinkle to the series' world. Long-time readers will find this issue incredibly satisfying with a really good payoff in the end.
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SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10 explores the culture and motivations behind the mysterious Urdens. After nine issues of constant teasing, we finally get an inside look into a clandestine Urden meeting that takes place in a distant castle. Once and for all, this issue answers the question Akisbjorne posed to Luvander in #7: Who are you? Also who are the Urdens and what is their role in the world? What brings Luvander to this meeting? This is the origin issue that loyal readers have been waiting for because Luvander’s enigmatic dream in #1 comes full circle! More importantly, this issue explores themes such as mental trauma, rebellion, and individualism. Please be advised that there are light spoilers ahead in this article.

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Confronting The Council of Urdens

SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10 focuses on how Luvander becomes a vagabond treasure hunter in the first place. The story begins as a council of Urdens assembles in a high castle that overlooks the lands. Namely, the council includes: Gmarash, a Black Beard-esque hot head; an unnamed woman with black hair and green eyes; and Luvander’s father, King Grimvander. Finally, the rest of the guests are Lord Dolan, a man with a goatee and violet eyes; Lord Marux, a man who looks like an African shaman; and Lady Sarla, an older woman who wears blue. As the meeting is in progress, Luvander announces her arrival. After Luvander taunts the council and angers Gmarash, King Grimvander finally speaks.

SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10
Courtesy of Image Comics

As SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10 continues, we learn about Luvander’s past. For instance, King Grimvander reveals that Luvander was banished for breaking Urden laws. This is a tense scene that highlights Luvander’s animosity towards King Grimvander and the council. Soon we learn that Luvander is an Urden princess with a heart of gold for humans. However, this heart of gold is what lands Luvander in hot water with her father because compassion is sacrilegious in Urden culture. Ultimately, in an Adam and Eve twist, the council decides to confine Luvander to life as a human and experience pain, hunger, etc. Nevertheless, it’s hard to watch Luvander relive traumatic experiences as King Grimvander lectures Luvander. Unlike the council, Luvander experiences things that they could never imagine.

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In the end, Luvander reveals that the reason why she decided to crash the meeting. Namely, Luvander states that she’s determined to break her curse and live without fear. Furthermore, Luvander states that the council is no better than humans because they use greed as an excuse to maintain the status quo. Thus, this moment marks a huge turning point for Luvander because she knows who she is and she has no regrets about her adventures. If anything, Luvander no longer needs to live in the shadow of her father because she sees the good in humans.

New Characters Make Compelling Antagonists

SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10 features some excellent characterization thanks to the aforementioned new characters. Indeed, Luvander’s confrontation with her father is the highlight of this issue. Like Captain Iriel in #8, the council thinks lowly of humans. For instance, King Grimvander states that wealth is power and power is how they maintain order. In other words, to Urdens, guarding their vast wealth in their respective lands from humans is how they maintain their reputation. However, this is an inherent flaw in the council’s point of view because they lack empathy and compassion. But this makes the council compelling antagonists for Luvander as Sebastian Girner no doubt has bigger plans for them in the future.

SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10
Courtesy of Image Comics

 

The Colorful Art of SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10

Again, Galaad’s art continues to be excellent in this issue. Notably, the council stands out because Galaad makes each character feel distinct with various white facial marks. For example, King Grimvander stays silent for the first several pages as the rest of the council assembles. In doing so, Galaad draws King Grimvander in the same pensive pose to show how powerful he is as others speak. Likewise, we get to see some new dragons such as Gmarash’s dramatic Urden form appearance. In a nice touch, Gmarash’s human form maintains the same psychotic eyed-look to indicate that he’s a hot head. Also, it helps that Galaad colors Gmarash with a bright red and orange beard to echo his dragon form.

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That said, Galaad’s colors reach new heights in SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10. As always, Galaad’s staple mists of colors are present in this issue such as the red, yellow, and orange that Galaad uses as Gmarash transforms from dragon to human. But the highlight of Galaad’s colors in this issue is in Luvander’s flashback panels. In these pages, Galaad takes us from a wide range of pink to brown colors to emphasize foreground characters. Later, in a two-page spread, there’s some excellent use of white in conjunction with Jeff Powell’s letters. To spoil these pages is a disservice to loyal readers but it makes readers appreciate Luvander more. There’s also a really excellent one-page splash in the end of the issue that is an homage to Hayao Miyazaki films.

SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10
Courtesy of Image Comics

 

What Comes Next for the Series

Overall, SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10 answers what we’ve known for a while about Luvander but fills in the gaps with new rich details. While this issue dials back on big action scenes, the introduction of the council is a welcome addition to the series. Furthermore, this issue shows how far Luvander develops since #1 and adds some additional nuance to her. Ultimately, this issue states what we’ve known for a while confidently: Luvander is an Urden with a heart of gold and a nose for treasure. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a few months before we see what’s next for Luvander. Instead, Dorma gets another chance to shine for the next two issues. That said, if you haven’t read the series, now is the perfect time to catch up with the scoundrels.

SCALES AND SCOUNDRELS #10 releases on June 6th. You can pre-order it on Comixology or find a local comic book shop here

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