It's the cover to "Skyward" #1 that grabbed my attention. At a glance there's nothing particularly out of the ordinary about it -- a young man in medieval clothes and his dog in a forest -- but at the same time, there's a fresh and almost appealing quality to Jeremy Dale's art. Ultimately, I think that's how you can sum up "Skyward" #1. Consisting of mostly set-up, there's nothing that out of the ordinary about the comic, but there's enough of a charm around the comic that readers will find themselves entertained and interested in more.
The basic premise is easy to follow, as young Quinn discovers that his father Corin had a life far more full of adventure and danger than their quiet life in the woods would have led him to believe. When figures from the past return to try and drag Corin back into their world, the end result turns Quinn's life upside down and he's suddenly on the run from a group of people more than ready to kill him.
"Skyward" #1 is a comic where it's not so much about the plot, but rather the execution. After all, the young hero's journey is a path that we've all seen in one form or another; doubly so when it involves the previous life getting destroyed as to push him down the road towards something greater. That's what Dale gives us here, with a series of awful events near the end of the first issue that leaves Quinn with no other way in which to survive. What makes it work is that everything leading up to that moment portrays Quinn as an upbeat and good kid. He's about to go through the crucible, but for now he's got a smile on his face and he's clearly been raised well by his parents. When things turn ugly, you want him to succeed; Dale's given him the right balance of good cheer and likability, keeping him from becoming too saccharinely sweet.
Dale's art is definitely part of the charm for "Skyward" #1. It's a fairly clean art style, with good character designs. It's almost like a strange cross between the art school of people like Ed McGuinness and Erik Larsen; sometimes it's a crisp and smooth line, and at other times it's a little rougher around the edges (like the encounter with the treehog), with furrowed eyebrows and heavy features. The muscular nature of the adults is at times a little larger than life, but it balances out by having Quinn drawn as a lean and normal looking kid. After all, he's our lead, and it's nice that he's not looking like he's found magical steroids. I like how clothing in "Skyward" #1 is given a careful approach; Herod's clothes are instantly much more elaborate and expensive looking than anything Corin, Taryn, or Quinn wears, for example. And for the three of them, they're in durable and functional clothing, which fits for their surroundings and home life.
All in all, "Skyward" #1 is a nice, entertaining introduction to the comic by Dale. I feel like we've got a good grasp of what its world and characters are like, and with the plot kicking into high gear in the last few pages, there's enough of a hook to come back for issue #2 as things get rolling.