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‘Codex Black: Book One – A Fire Among Clouds’ (review)

Written and Illustated by
Camilo Moncada Lozano
Colored by
Angel De Santiago
Published by IDW Publishing

 

IDW’s Codex Black: A Fire Among Clouds presents the reader yet another long quest, and yet another where it’s “to be continued.” I’ve mentioned in the past how it feels like a cheat to me to read 300 pages of a story that has no ending. Wait until the ending is published and THEN collect it, I say. Seems simple enough.

That said, creator Camilo Moncada Lozano here presents us with something unusual.

This book is Manga, through and through, with all the visual tropes and the long, drawn-out pacing mixed with sudden ultra-quick cuts that makes Manga Manga.

But true Manga is Japanese and this book is set entirely in what is now called Mesoamerica, and in the 15th century.

And then on top of all that, it’s also a young adult title, with the prerequisite plucky young heroine, her goofy but loyal male sidekick, parental issues, and teenage angst.

Donaji is our main character, just turned 15 and determined to find her long-missing father. She has a reputation in her village for having faced down a god at a young age. She also has another god traveling with her in the form of a poncho she wears. Soon after she sets out on her journey, she runs across a winged boy, lost from a caravan, and the two slowly bond as he accompanies her in search of her father.

These quests are, of course, never without incident, and along the way they are beset by several, including a large bat monster and a sneaky young thief who takes the poncho, returns it, but then gets away with all their money, forcing Donaji and friend to return home embarrassed, in need of more funds, but there are other obstacles to her goal at home, too.

The god inhabiting the poncho is a clever idea. Particularly memorable is a scene where we learn a secret about him.

At the heart of the story is the growing friendship of two quirky kids who never had any real friends amongst their peers and we follow this, paralleled with Donaji’s quest not just to find her father but to find herself, whether or not she realizes it.

The back of the book is filled with the usual interesting behind-the-scenes info, here including a history lesson as well as helpful pronunciations of all the mostly-lengthy Aztec, Mayan, Mexican, etc. names.

All in all, Codex Black: A Fire Among Clouds was an exciting story, told in an odd format for such a tale.

Booksteve recommends.

 

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