A blink, a flash of light—only a moment for the world to be overrun. Suddenly, a mental-health getaway turns into a fight for survival when one young woman finds herself sheltering a young boy in a world full of literal monsters.
From Aftershock Comics, Ed Brisson, and Damian Couceiro, comes Losing California, the first volume of Beyond the Breach, a series about multiversal travel, horrific creatures, and the bonds people form in the midst of life or death situations.
Escaping a messy series of family and relationship situations, Vanessa temporarily leaves her life behind to take a road trip entirely for herself. In the span of a moment, electronics have died and the world around her is overrun with ferocious beasts from other worlds. Rescuing a boy from the carnage and joined by strange, friendly creature and a mysterious traveler from another existence, Vanessa and her new allies make their way through a world they don’t recognize, searching for safety as even greater threats close in around them. Soon, survival will not be enough—Vanessa will need to learn the truth about the incursion if she has any hope of recovering what she lost.
Brisson’s past work includes Deathstroke and Old Man Logan and though his gritty, action sci-fi style is on full display here, Beyond the Breach may offer something a little different for those who are familiar with his work. Though the story does deliver some key moments of character development and interaction along with the necessary world building to understand the larger events of the incursion, Brisson’s storytelling largely embraces a fast-paced narrative that matches the chaos and desperation of Vanessa’s experiences. From the initial chaos, through tense interactions with allies and enemies, right through the climax that resolves the initial arc while still leaving the story open for the next chapter. The journey often values action over an emotional core and trusts the reader to be comfortable with a bit of uncertainty along the way, but the Brisson nevertheless has shown he can deliver a cinematic story, and that remains the case here.
With bold colors and visuals that balance style with realism, Couciero brings the apocalypse to life across these pages. The action is shocking, often bloody, and leaps across the panels with each dramatic illustration. It’s the monsters that often take the forefront here, and Couciero has no shortage of things that crawl, fly, and devour their way through the world as Vanessa and those around her continue their journey. The art captures the familiar and the strange of this remade world alongside the strange beauty of the landscape and the turbulent emotions of the characters. Brisson’s writing aims high, and Couceiro is right there to deliver the story as it all plays out.
Aftershock doesn’t give an age rating for this title, but with strong language and graphic violence, it’s aimed largely at older teens and adults. Beyond the Breach shares some distinct commonalities with series such as Paper Girls and Oblivion Song, albeit with slightly more mature content. It’s not a necessary purchase for every collection, but if your readers have enjoyed sci-fi titles such as those, Beyond the Breach should sit comfortably alongside them on the shelves. Stepping on the gas from the very beginning, Vol. 1 is a brutal and ambitious sci-fi apocalypse road trip. Things get a bit weird, but for comics fans willing to leap between worlds, it’s a wild ride. Just beware—here, there be monsters.
Beyond the Breach: Losing California Vol. 01 By Ed Brisson Art by Damian Couceiro Aftershock, 2021
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
When it comes to renowned texts within the Eastern literary canon, Journey to the West towers over its fellows, often being cited as one of the four great classical works of Chinese literature. There is something enduring about the story of Sun Wukong, a powerful monkey king turned Buddhist disciple that must use his immense strength, durability, and supernatural abilities to protect the monk Sanzang on his quest to obtain sacred texts, all the while facing many rigorous trials and demonic threats along the way.
For centuries, it has entertained and enlightened readers with its rich allegories, political commentary, and overall engaging, adventurous plot. It has also been the source of inspiration for countless plays, novels, movies, TV shows, comics, and manga, most notably Dragonball and Naruto. Here, as a visually captivating graphic novel, Chaiko’s The Monkey King: The Complete Odyssey revitalizes the classic tale for an audience that, while most likely familiar with the fruits of its influence, have yet to witness this perilous, strange, yet somewhat comical journey.
While Sanzang technically holds the status of main character in the original story, the refocusing of Wukong as the central character makes the most narrative sense. He displays more character development than anyone in the cast, going from a prideful, violent instigator aiming to topple the Heavens themselves to a loyal protector and disciple of Sanzang capable of showing mercy. His frequent moments of mischief and playfulness make him quite endearing to the reader, playing into a multifaceted nature that can be intimidating yet also charismatic. Wukong is a classic trickster character, similar to Loki and Hermes from Norse and Greek myth respectively, though he is more likely to fight his way out of a situation than through wit or cleverness.
No matter how one chooses to adapt Journey to the West, the main draw and appeal will be its memorable characters and how the creator interprets them for the audience. Along with the chaotic Wukong and devout Sanzang, the other figures that guard the monk during the long trek are the disciples Zhu Bajie, a greedy pig-like being, and Sha Wujing, a quiet, though obedient river ogre. With these varying and certainly clashing personality types, it makes for some standout character moments that give readers an insight into the inner dynamics of the group. At times, there appears to be a familial aspect to how the characters interact with each other: Sanzang as the authority figure,
Wukong the responsible eldest, Bajie the antagonistic foil to Wukong, and Wujing as the peacemaker. Wukong and Bajie’s arguments play off as sibling rivalry at times, making for some hilarious banter and a great deal of tension. It gives another layer to their interactions, as well as establishing another humanizing connection to the reader. In the process of bringing the story into a new medium, Chaiko keeps these relationships intact and maintains the characters as incredibly faithful interpretations, which helps to capture the spirit of the primary text.
What really sets this adaptation apart is Chaiko’s masterful artwork, especially when it comes to ambiance. The art style has a rougher, more traditional appearance, which perfectly puts the reader in the mood for a mythic epic. There is a recurring focus given to grand, natural elements such as cascading waterfalls, lofty mountains, and immersive open landscapes. Chaiko’s use of watercolors gives them a simple, yet elegant appearance, making each part of the journey visually distinct. Color is what ultimately enhances the storytelling, especially in terms of setting and tone. When in the earthly realm, the colors are fairly muted.
Rarely does the reader see anything brighter than the light blue of the sky, or orange of the setting sun. The hues are more reserved and modest, contrasting the bright pinks, purples, and golds that are constantly seen in the heavenly realm or in the presence of divinity. It gives the perfect sense of otherworldliness and reverence to the home of the immortals, inferring that a certain sort of beauty is only attainable when reaching a higher plane. In terms of tone, Chaiko utilizes color to instill certain emotions in a scene. During battles with foes, the panels turn ominous with dark greys and blues, highlighting the intensity and dynamic posing of characters, whereas lighter colors follow more emotional or light-hearted moments. As a result, each scenario gets its desired effect, whether that be raised tensions as a fierce face-off in a dark sky rages on, or a cold feeling of sorrow during a parting of ways in a bright and bare snowy forest.
As to its status as an adaptation, Chaiko does an admirable job of adapting and condensing 100 chapters worth of material into a graphic novel accessible to a modern, international audience. If I were to have one gripe, it would be that the marketing and synopsis describes it as being the complete story of Sun Wukong, When really it does not follow his journey with Sanzang, Bajie, and Sha to its conclusion. The story ends quite suddenly after a climactic moment, only hinting at the rest of the journey they still must undergo. It was somewhat frustrating not to be able to see them to their journey’s end, but it did not bring down the story as a whole.
Though cutting off a bit short, the graphic novel still holds all the intrigue, charm, and feel of the original that has been drawing people in for centuries. If anything, it leaves readers with the chance to discover more of the story themselves, whether that is through consulting with the text or seeking out another adaptation. For those wanting a more complete graphic novel version, I would recommend checking out Adventures from China: Monkey King by Wei Dong Chen, which takes a similar abridged approach in the span of twenty volumes.
The Monkey King: The Complete Odyssey will entertain readers partial to stories of mythic quests, legendary heroes, and beloved folk tales with a thrilling action element. Manga readers especially may be drawn to its art style, as well as through its ties to popular titles they may have already read. Due to its wonderful ability to balance drama, action, and humor with deeper themes and allegories, this title can be enjoyed by a wide age range, though publishers have given a specific recommended age of 13 and up. Librarians and educators looking for titles that may connect readers more easily to classical literature or see a high circulation of titles tied to myths and legends should consider purchasing this title.
The Monkey King: The Complete Odyssey By Chaiko Tsai Magnetic Press, 2023 ISBN: 9781951719760
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16) Creator Representation: Chinese, , Character Representation: Chinese, Buddhist ,
If your young reader is sad that they’re too old for the classic series, How to Catch a…, then this is the series for you! Author Alice Walstead has come out with this graphic novel series that follows the same fun pattern of the picture book version of these amusing titles.
Pup and Dragon are the main characters in this new junior graphic novel series, where each book is subtitled “How to Catch a…”. In this seasonal Christmas edition, they are trying to catch an elf.
Pup can’t believe he has to teach Dragon all about Christmas. Dragon doesn’t know anything. Not who Santa Claus is, not what elves are, nothing, because dragons hibernate and sleep right through the holiday. Pup hatches a plan to attempt to catch an elf this year, as last year the kids tried and failed to do so. Hilariousness ensues as they concoct all kinds of silly plans, including an eggnog slide. Children will definitely have a good laugh as they follow along this wild tale.
Pages are filled with popping primary colored hues, featuring simple panels with the main characters being the central focus. These child friendly drawings often have complementary colored backgrounds to highlight the dialogue that’s occurring.
Overall, this is such a great adaptation of the very popular picture book series made into a set of books for elementary school readers. The artwork is exciting and colorful to match the pace of the silly story.
Pup and Dragon: How to Catch an Elf By Alice Walstead Art by Paul Gill Sourcebooks, 2023 ISBN: 9781728270517
Who could resist exploring beautiful woods that surround the only place you’ve ever known? Serafina stays within the walls of the Biltmore Estate, following her Pa’s wishes; as long as she can but how can she stay inside when children start mysteriously disappearing?
This graphic novel edition of the best-selling quartet fantasy novel series by the same name has been well adapted into this new format. Adapting author, Michael Moreci, stays true to the magic you find in the original book series written by author Robert Beatty.
Serafina’s story starts off tragically. She was born malformed with a strange back and collarbone, with eyes closed and the wrong number of toes. The Biltmore Estate’s maintenance man found her in the forest near the estate and brought her back to hope the nuns would help her. They called her a demon child. He feared they would kill the baby so he secretly kept her to raise by himself. He loved on that little baby and she finally opened her eyes for the first time under his loving care.
It was heartbreaking for Serafina to learn the story of her beginnings when she was a young child, but there was a piece of her that felt such immense gratitude and love for her Pa that it strengthened their relationship even more. The story picks up quickly as the man with the black cloak is introduced and strange things start happening around the estate. Children start to go missing, the electricity stops working, and it’s clear right away to Serafina that something is wrong with this man with the black cloak as she finds his dropped glove, lost in haste, filled with large chunks of old, hairy, shedding skin.
The artwork, by Braeden Sherrell, is so beautifully done and created in a style that is absolutely perfect for this rather dark children’s tale. A lot of text keeps the story moving and keeps details consistent with the original book. Pages are colored to match the mood of the current scene in the story. Bright yellows for daytime cheerfulness or dark purples and blues splash across pages to highlight the darkness of not only the nighttime but of the situations that characters face.
Overall, this is a wonderful adaptation of the original book. I hope they do continue on this series and create the next 3 in this children’s fantasy quartet. The story follows a typical hero’s journey pathway with tragedy and challenges to overcome that strengthen the protagonist and help her to grow, learn her strengths and conquer.
Serafina and the Black Cloak Vol. 1 By Robert Beatty, Michael Moreci and Braeden Sherrell Disney, 2023 ISBN: 9781368076906
How did the universe begin? What happens to stars when they die? Big Bangs and Black Holes: A Graphic Novel Guide to the Universe is a short, fast-paced introduction to the field of cosmology. Presenting the key theories that shape our current understanding of the origin and nature of the universe, this graphic novel captures the wow factor of studying the cosmos and shines light on the complex process of scientific discovery.
Producing a 64-page comic about some of the most mind-bending concepts in science is no mean feat, and writer/illustrator HERJI and physicist Jérémie Francfort present a strong offering. Narrated by cosmologist Celeste Aster and her sidekicks, niece Gabrielle and real-life astrophysicist Michel Mayor, Big Bangs and Black Holes uses a conversational tone to outline three big ideas in cosmology: Einstein’s model of space-time, the Big Bang, and black holes. Playful full-color illustrations pair challenging science concepts with accessible imagery: space-time is a beach towel covered with objects that distort its surface, redshifted cosmic background radiation is pastry being distorted by a rolling pin, and black holes are… well, so strange that the artist doesn’t resort to metaphor, instead presenting images of an astronaut falling past an event horizon and being stretched out in a memorable process known as “spaghettification.”
Big Bangs and Black Holes doesn’t shy from hard concepts, and it embraces as its central message that science is an ongoing journey of discovery. Each chapter details how we know what we know—usually a mix of astronomical observation and fiendishly hard math—and highlights questions that we have yet to resolve, such as the nature of black holes, whether current theories mesh with observations of “dark matter” and “dark energy,” and of course, why the Big Bang happened in the first place. Readers are encouraged to understand science not just as received wisdom, but an evolving body of knowledge they can follow and even, perhaps, participate in. As part of facilitating readers’ ability to see themselves as part of this conversation, the book attempts to be inclusive, despite depicting a field that has historically been dominated by white men. Dr. Aster, a white woman, is accompanied by her niece, a young woman of color, and astronomer Henrietta Leavitt is featured for her discovery of an important method for determining the distance of stars.
Due to its length, Big Bangs and Black Holes doesn’t function as a comprehensive overview of cosmology, but engaged readers will find enough here to guide future learning, and the eye-catching illustrations will serve as a useful aid to understanding the associated physics concepts. That said, this book is such a fast-moving overview of its topic that it may not connect with a wide audience. The jokey tone and illustrations feel most suitable for middle or early high school, but the vocabulary and complex material may be difficult for students of this age. Motivated young readers will have a blast, but science novices may wish this was a longer book with a bit more hand-holding along the way.
It’s not every day that you come across a graphic novel that gets into the nitty-gritty of astrophysics with a young audience in mind. Intelligent, goofy, and executed by an artist who’s mastered the nuts and bolts of illustrating science comics, Big Bangs and Black Holes is worth consideration for nonfiction collections serving young adults.
Big Bangs and Black Holes By HERJI, Francfort Jérémie Art by HERJI Helvetiq, 2023 ISBN: 9783907293751
Publisher Age Rating: 13-17
NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16) Creator Representation: Swiss
Danni is twelve when her faithful companion Pirate the dog dies. While trying to work through her grief, a substitute teacher named Miss Pallas introduces the class to mythology. Since there weren’t enough copies of the textbook for everyone in class, Miss Pallas gives her personal copy to Danni to use. Reading the book of mythology helps Danni start to recover gradually. However, when they read the section about Hades, one of the illustrations looks familiar. Danni is sure the entrance to Hades is a cave she used to visit with her family when she was younger.
Danni decides to leave immediately, in the middle of the night, to find Hades and bring back Pirate. If Orpheus could do it, so can she. Unfortunately, her younger brother, Sammy, follows her and they tumble into Hades together. Upon meeting Cerberus, Danni learns she is on an official quest from a god or goddess and that she can’t go home to drop her little brother off and then come back to continue. After choosing a hero to protect them, Danni faces several obstacles on her quest to find her faithful companion and bring him home.
This is an interesting introduction to myths for young readers set in a contemporary setting before entering the world of mythology and quests. I was reminded of the Percy Jackson series, if the main characters were aged down a few years in strength, wisdom, and priorities. The pacing is just right for younger readers ,as well, and there aren’t as many words per page as other comics meant for upper middle grade audiences. My favorite aspect of this retelling is using Danni’s knowledge of the world as a clever way to progress the plot instead of a detriment to her success. I am interested to see where the story goes in the next volume. I recommend this series for any public or classroom library that has middle grade readers looking for adventure, retellings, or help dealing with grief.
Fetch, book 1: The Journey By Mike Sizemore Art by Dave Kennedy Storm King Productions, 2023 ISBN: 9781734389197
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12 NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)
Science Comics! Making up for my 48th-in-the-nation-in-STEM-education-education. (Only partly joking about that, teachers.) I’m serious about this, though: these comics are neat!
Science Comics include a wide variety of representations! This comic has a multigender, multicultural number of characters in non-stereotypical roles, which is also something different from when I was 8-12 years of age. I wish we had had them when I was little. These comics try to include a whole bunch of science information in a short space. This issue has 119 pages. As in my previous Periodical Table review, the comic is text heavy, has asymmetrical panels, comical drawings to help solidify the lesson, and uses well-known (to kids) tropes to make the lessons clear. This comic uses mecha-transformer-type robots and rampaging monsters to introduce the principles of electricity, like voltage (volts), current (amps) and resistance (ohms). A young (and very punk-looking) girl named Julie must help her engineer uncle Niko repair the electricity substation when a battle between their mecha and a somewhat goofy-looking monster takes down their grid.
Many subtle middle-age winks made me smile, and parents will like the two-layered humor when reading this with their kids. An example:
In explaining the types of potential and kinetic energy on page 22: Niko: “Huh. These looked different when I was a kid.” Julie, with eyerolls: “There’s been a reboot.” Niko: “Looks like the city’s hero is coming out of retirement! *squnch*…The city’s hero used to be more flexible.”
I think the writing and the story flow better in this comic than the Periodical Table one. For example, on p. 50-51 is a very funny way to explain how solar panels work. Equally amusing stories depict how and why different deliverers of energy work like they do, like natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, and hydroelectric plants. I’m sure the snarky self-assured teenage comments from Julie (“Ya’ll used this for HOW long?”) hit home with her uncle. (How far does that mecha’s electrical cord stretch, anyway?)
Kids will likely be the generation that will deal with climate change and this comic takes that issue head-on. Blackouts and other climate change-induced problems will probably increase, especially when the security of the electrical grid is increasingly discussed in places like California, Texas, and Florida, and this part of the comic teaches students this. The comic stays on the positive side, though, explaining that we can begin to improve things with newer technology currently being invented and refined.
The comic includes an introduction, a glossary of terms used in the book, and is brightly colored through all the panels and pages. I reviewed the pre-published online version, but if its release is like the previous Science Comics, it will be sturdily bound and will hold up to many circulations. Recommended for middle school and public libraries.
Science Comics: Electricity: Energy in Action By Andy Hirsch First Second, 2023 ISBN: 9781250265852
The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend is a semi-autobiographical manga about self-loathing, self-discovery, and ultimately, thankfully, a story of self-acceptance and love. Mieri introduces herself to us as a Japanese office worker living in the U.S., setting up the narration she will provide to catch us up to the present. In middle school she found herself attracted to anime women, but didn’t realize until she was in college that she was gay. She takes us through her journey from repressed tomboy to self-actualized adult, but that journey is anything but easy. The line that summarizes the experience of this book best happens late in part two: “Little did I know that Ash would become my first girlfriend and that we would break up after a month of dating and that I would spend 4 years in hell trying to get over her.”
Mieri is a sophomore in college when she has her first relationship and while it is very short lived it winds up dominating the next four years of her life. It’s immediately apparently that Mieri has very little self-confidence. In the early chapters she is repeatedly putting people on pedestals. This is as equally unfair to herself as it is to these people in her life. She feels she hasn’t earned the love and consideration she’s shown. This causes an imbalance between them which, in her mind, seems impossible to overcome. The trend for most of this book is Mieri experiencing so many firsts in life and trying to reconcile what they might mean, while not loving herself enough to take care of herself. She tries to work hard enough to earn the love of others or to keep a relationship working even when it’s not.
The central character to Mieri’s journey of discovery is her first girlfriend Ash, who she meets on summer vacation when she visits her grandparents in Japan. After the early, tentative days of dating, they say they love one another and promise to stay together even after Mieri has to fly back to the U.S. for school. Things fall apart when Ash learns that Mieri isn’t graduating as soon as she thought she was. It’s basically a semester later, but Ash has had several long distance relationships with boyfriends that didn’t work out and she won’t wait a year for anyone again. Mieri is initially heartbroken, but decides she will get an internship in Japan so she can try to win Ash back. What she thinks is a grand romantic gesture ultimately falls flat when she learns Ash is seeing someone new. From here she spirals into depression and loneliness as she has no friends in Japan. She could have wallowed forever, but she slowly comes to embrace the life she actually has. She becomes a better friend, gets back to drawing manga, and carving out an identity for herself. There isn’t a clean resolution at the end of this book, but only in service of setting up the next installment.
The redeeming part of this book is that Mieri never gives up on herself and even when things are dark, she doesn’t engage in self-destructive behavior. The style of this book and it’s incredibly frank honesty reminded me at times of Nagata Kabi’s work in books like My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness and My Alcoholic Escape from Reality. The difference between these is that Mieri does not spiral into such dark places. She’s depressed, she’s sad, she’s lonely, but she’s never actively self-harming. I think that’s important because it makes this story accessible to more people, especially teen readers. There is one kiss in the entire book and you only see the back of someone’s head, so it’s not prurient in any way. Viz has this rated Teen and I agree with the assessment for placement in a library collection. As someone who has had a first infatuation, a first love, and first heartbreak, I was able to identify and empathize with this story. It left me wanting to tell her to hold on and keep trying. I felt parental in that moment. For readers who haven’t lived these things I imagine it only makes you read faster to see how she resolves these feelings and if she will find a happy ending. I enjoyed this book and have already purchased it for our library. Autobiographical (or semi-autobiographical in this case) manga and graphic novels have a huge reach and wide audience appeal, this book is no exception.
The Girl That Can’t Get a Girlfriend By Mieri Hiranishi VIZ, 2023 ISBN: 9781974736591
Publisher Age Rating: Teen
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16) Creator Representation: Lesbian Character Representation: Lesbian
I don’t know if it’s because of the volume of his output, but Franco (Franco Aureliani) shows a wide range of quality in his writing. I was disappointed by the last comic of his that I read and reviewed, but enjoyed this gentle fantasy adventure and think it will find a ready audience.
The story opens with red-haired Fae, wearing a vaguely medieval-style brown dress, sitting sadly alone under the moon. She goes to bed and has nightmares of her mother’s mysterious disappearance and wakes to sit sadly at the table and stare at her breakfast. Percival, a small white bunny with vine-like markings on his head and back, appears and tries to comfort her, encouraging her to remember her mother, hold on to her memories, but also to let go and move on. Fae mulls over his words and eventually decides to do something concrete to remember her mother and to call her attention, wherever she is; she takes the moon out of the sky.
Fae’s actions set in train a a dark series of events, from rampaging rat hordes to fleeing villagers. In a startling twist she learns some dangerous secrets, including discovering her own inner power and the truth behind her mother’s disappearance. There is a happy and satisfying ending, despite the constant perilous situations throughout the book, and charming art throughout. The Satruns’ colorful art has lots of curves and lines including delicate flowers that bloom under the moon, sleek dragon-like creatures, and cute and cuddly mice. These contrast with the pointed noses, scowls, and dark menace of the rat horde. Lots of blooming, growing, and expanding circles show magical transformations, and the whole story is alternately flooded with shadows or gently shining with the moon’s bright light.
There are some odd little moments, like Fae’s sudden change from the dress she wore throughout the story to a Victorian-style suit on the last page, and a few holes in the story as well as some awkward phrasing. Still, young readers looking for a fantasy adventure that doesn’t end on a cliffhanger will be satisfied with the pretty art and fast-moving story line. There’s a hint of sequels at the end, but not enough that the story feels unfinished, and some gentle reminders throughout about not judging by appearances.
Young readers who aren’t ready for Amulet and enjoy the Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly and Guardians of Horsa will be the ideal audience for this story and will eagerly snatch it up.
Fae and the Moon By Franco Aureliani Art by Catherine Satrun, Sarah Satrun Publisher: Yellow Jacket, 2023 ISBN: 9781499813289
Set on an alternate Earth that was invaded by an alien race that calls themselves “Agartha,” three teenage girls have been gifted with the ability to transform into powerful magical girls. Wielding fruit wands, they are nicknamed Flavor Girls by the humans they protect. A fourth, Sara, is selected after being chased by the Agarthians through the streets of her hometown. Sara decides to leave her friends behind to join the Flavor Girls to train at the Temple of Mother Tree. Mother Tree provides the power each Flavor Girl uses to transform and defend Earth. Unfortunately, Sara has a lot to learn about fighting and teamwork and not much time before she is called to defend one of the relics protecting Mother Tree.
After the Agarthians manage to steal one of Mother Tree’s relics, the story follows them back to their spaceship. The Agartha celebrate their success and explain why they are hunting down the relics while showcasing their structure of power and personalities. There is also a short side story included at the end that deviates from the main story, which follows the Flavor Girls as they investigate a missing person and discover a haunted house.
My favorite aspect of this graphic novel is that the backstory sequences are told without words and with muted colors, relying on the action portrayed in the illustrations. This is very successful when juxtaposed with the colorful main story elements. Locatelli-Kournwsky has paced the story well, with a good balance between character development and world building. Nothing feels extraneous to the plot. The inclusion of the aliens’ point of view in the second half of the book, gives the audience new information about the ongoing war and raises questions about why they originally came to Earth and their relationship to Mother Tree and the relics. I’m looking forward to seeing how both sides’ stories progress in volume 2.
This would make a great addition to any public library collection for teens (since it does contain the usual superhero violence, making it inappropriate for children’s collections). It would also appeal to teen fans of magical girl manga and anime and would be a fantastic diverse addition to superhero collections.