Top Cow Productions/Image Comics 2021
Written by Henry Barajas
Illustrated by Rahmat M. Handoko
Coloured by Bryan Valenza
Lettered by Gabriela Downie
The last dragon prince has been abducted—kept prisoner by an unknown threat: AZTEC MEXICA! Helm Greycastle and his outsider comrades are here to save the prince—but are recruited by a resistance plotting to overthrow Montezuma. Will Greycastle help save the people of MEXICA...or rescue the dragon prince and flee?
I’ve said about a few of these types of books that they feel like an RPG tabletop adventure brought to life through comics but this one feels the most like that to me. Not that I am complaining because it’s a great adventure and we’re dropped into this already in progress which is a great way to engage the reader and make them think and wonder about the story itself. I like that this is set in South America amids the Aztec’s and that mythology as it opens up a whole new world of possibilities that mix with the various races you’d find in a typical Dungeons & Dragons adventure. There is a sense of originality in that which we don’t get to see a whole lot of in the genre anymore.
I like the way that this is being told. How we see the story & plot development through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is presented extremely well. How the characters are introduced amidst a fight with basically their name and what they are or do leaves a lot of room for exploring them, where they come from and what races they represent. The character development is interesting for much the same reasons and to see that there is already conflict among the group and that they are bound together through circumstances they created in some way shape or form only screams out for more exploration. The pacing is superb and as it takes us through the pages revealing this world, the story and introducing the characters it is easy to be drawn in and be left wanting to see and know more.
The way that this is being structured and how the layers within the story are seen to have already started and grow and evolve over the course of the issue is well constructed. How we see everything working together to create the story’s ebb & flow as well as how it moves the story constantly forward is well done.
The interiors here are really rather exceptional. The linework we see is strong, clean and crisp so that when working with the varying weights and techniques to create this kind of quality in the detail work is stupendous. The skeleton warriors, who talk for a change, all have a great consistency to them that make them frightening opponents and how the clothes and scenery are utilised within the composition of the panels is perfectly rendered. Not only do we get these great moments but the depth perception, sense of scale and the overall sense of size and scope to the story comes through beautifully. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a remarkably talented eye for storytelling. The creativity and imagination in bringing these characters to life is so incredibly nice to see. The colour work is gorgeous. How we see the various hues and tones within the colours being utilised to create the shading, highlights and shadow work is beautifully rendered. The techniques we see in how they are laid down mixes things up perfectly so depending on what’s needed where.
Whether or not this is taken directly from a tabletop adventure or it is just written that way it only reaffirms what I’ve been saying about this genre of storytelling, that it’s every bit the superhero team book that we see proliferate the stands. It is just told from a different perspective utilising different elements on the whole. This is a winner folks and I highly recommend you check it out next time you are at your local store.