Publisher: Image
Story, Art & Design: Wes Craig
Colours: Jason Wordie
Letters: Andworld Design
Design & Production: Erica Schnatz
Cover Colours: Moreno Dinisio

In many ways Kaya #1 isn’t doing anything terribly original. We’ve seen these sort of story beats and character tropes before. If you want this sort of narrative you are not short of options. However, what this book does is tell that narrative with charm, interesting character design, and simple but effective art. In other words it does what it does well.

The oft used narrative is this. We have Jin, a young prince meant to fulfil a prophecy. He and his sister Kaya are the last survivors of a devastating attack that has destroyed their home and family. Kaya, his older sister is also his protector. She’s doing her best with Jim’s whining. However, they come across mortal danger before being rescued by Seth, an old friend of Kaya’s who offers her the chance for glory and an opportunity for the supplies she and her brother desperately need.

So we have post disaster world. Check. Older sibling protecting ungrateful younger sibling in a dangerous world. Check. We have an ally. Check. We have a difficult choice that must be made. Check. With of course narration from the future by an older version of one of the characters (in this case Jin). Check. So as you can see nothing especially new. However, you can’t help but warm to Kaya, both the character and the title.

The character designs are the real strength of the art. Both Jin and Kaya are human but not human in the realistic sense. Jin in particular looks almost like a rag doll with the black circle around one eye, his little Mohawk of red hair, greenish tinge to his skin and x marks as scars. Kaya is his sister but looks different. Brown skin and dark hair, arm that’s looks arm like but is gold and an energy weapon. With her eye mask and scarf covering her face she looks far more human in some ways as any weird features are obscured.

Then there are the lizard people they bump into. There’s a mix of crocodilian types, whereas Seth has a more rounded lizard face. It marks out the variety of the other beings inhabiting this world and helps give the world building that extra lift. With so much time and care taken with these character designs. That care is also in the overall design of the world, and the ruined city Kaya and Jin come across. The coursing marinations a desert feeling with yellows, oranges and red of various hues. It feels a warm, dry world.

Many of the panels are simple with focus on the characters and that’s wise as it’s the best way to tell the story. The writing also keeps things fairly simple. We have future!Jin’s narration but his future self doesn’t give away much, understandably of course. What’s nice is the exposition we get feels natural. We hear about enemies, learn the Atrians are the enemies who wiped out Kaya and Jin’s home, world perhaps. Yet we know little more ab them, again we don’t need to at this stage. We get enough knowledge through snippets of dialogue so the world building remains solid.

As I said there’s not a huge amount that’s new here in terms of tropes but it’s certainly charming. The world building is solid, the characters are interesting. The interactions between Kaya and Seth have some interesting subtext. Jin is an annoying brat but luckily we know in the future he’s well aware of this. This is a setup which is solid and enjoyable. As I said it does what it set out to do very well. It’s not the most original but is a good read nonetheless. I am interested to see where the journey goes next.

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