Ralph Azham #1: Black Are The Stars

Papercutz/Super Genius. Jun. 2022. 152p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781545808795; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781545808801.
Gr 7 Up–When he was small, Ralph was supposed to be the Chosen One, but now he’s the village scapegoat. After his village is attacked by vicious raiders, Ralph learns that there are secrets in his past, and he sets out on a journey to find out more about himself. Framed as a traitor and a spy, Ralph comes into conflict with the evil Malek, who has his own secrets. The path ahead for Ralph is dangerous, but with the new friends and allies he makes along the way, he may prevail—or he may learn that no matter how great your power may be, it can’t always help you when you come face-to-face with both your past and your future. This is an epic story that still manages to feel small and personal, in a good way. Even though it is an origin story, it hits the ground running without too much exposition or set-up. It is equal parts epic and exciting, with just the right amount of humor. Despite his many flaws, Ralph is an endearing underdog character you can’t help cheering for. Although the other characters are sometimes difficult to tell apart, they are clear and consistent in their motivations. The art is simple in its elegance, and the vivid colors and landscapes have a Seussian vibe, which works well as the characters are all anthropomorphic animals. This is the first of four volumes and contains the first three stories in Ralph’s journey.
VERDICT A great story and art plus interesting characters make for an excellent beginning to what will hopefully be a rich and exciting epic adventure.

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