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5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince Hardcover Graphic Novel Review

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5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince Hardcover

Oona has to confront her fears, and her sister, as her journey to save the 5 worlds continues.

Creative Staff
Story: Mark Siegel, Alexis Sigel
Art: Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, Boya Sun

What They Say
Oona Lee surprised everyone–including herself–when she lit the first beacon to save the Five Worlds from extinction. Can she light the other four beacons in time? Next stop, Toki! On the blue planet, Oona must face the sister who left her, and bring to light the Cobalt Prince’s dark secrets. Meanwhile, An Tzu is fading away as his mysterious illness gets worse. Will it stop him from joining the fight? Or will his unique magic be just what the team needs? And Jax Amboy is a hero on the starball field, but in a moment of real danger, will he risk everything to save his friends?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince picks up where volume 1, the Sand Warrior, left off with a flashback to Jessa Lee, the prodigy of the Sand Castle. The shocking reveal at the end of the first volume that she was a leader of the Toki forces storming the Sand Castle wasn’t all that shocking, but her blue appearance was.

It’s clear going into this volume that there were plenty of secrets to go around. Jessa didn’t turn to the side of evil, she has her own reasons for doing what she did. The girls haven’t been told the whole truth about their past or why they were adopted into the Sand Castle. Oona was too young and her sister neglected to mention that parts of the past that she remembered. Oona’s journey to light the beacons and get the truth from her sister drives her on her dangerous quest straight towards the enemy.

This is still very much Oona’s story, with her sister a close second in focus. An Tzu spends much of the volume ill and Jax is separated from the group early on. It allows for the story to focus on the world building and Oona’s journey for the truth. She’s hit from all sides on her quest in Toki, and the culmination of the discovery of her past means that she has to accept some sad facts about her upbringing and find the strength to move on to save the worlds. The climax of this volume feels like it could have been the final battle, but Oona’s journey really has just begun. Now that she knows that the real stakes are and how to go about saving the worlds, it’s time to develop the other two kids in the group while they quest. 

I appreciate that even though this is a story of good versus evil, that the side of right and wrong is not always clear. The people of Mon Domani glorifying their victory and looking down on the Toki, and the racism on display in the different worlds show that not all that lives in the light is good. While Oona was always the least classist of the sand dancers that we’ve seen, An Tzu is the opposite and has a hard time accepting that his friend might be the very thing that he can’t stand. Conflict is rarely black and white, and the author’s of this series know it. While the overall story might be simplified in some ways, that’s something that they haven’t glossed over.

There are few moments of this book which are less than perfect. The plot telegraphs its moves in a very obvious way. It’s easy to guess what’s going to happen, who is going to take a fall or sacrifice themselves, and when a death is just a fake out. These are kids, and as such, they make mistakes in who to trust and often act irrationally, which is a good thing. That being said, a good deal of luck often plays just as major a role in protecting the heroes as their own actions do. The other thing that made me raise an eyebrow in this volume is the brief encounter on Salassandra with the religious zealots there. The design of one of the leaders is obviously pulling from a very Earth source and its inspiration seems more than a little strange in a series which makes very obvious comparisons to racism and classism and how terrible it all is. Plus, I wish we could have seen more of Toki. For a volume named after the planet we don’t spend nearly enough time there or get to see it’s uniqueness. However, Oona is going to have to return to the planet again in the future and maybe then we’ll see a different aspect of it.

The artwork for this series, apparently split between several artists but appearing to be drawn by a single hand, is wonderfully whimsical. There’s a squishiness to the character designs that would lend them well to being animated someday. The wide range of body types and character designs lets everyone stand out easily in a crowd. Each planet has its own look and feel, but everything still feels cohesively like the same universe. The way color is handled in this story is masterful, with scenes shifting in hue to match location and emotion, but always in softer tones. It really is a great looking story.

This book is available in digital, softcover, and hardcover editions. The review copy I have is the hardcover edition and it’s lovely. It’s the perfect size for east reading with semi-gloss paper that lets the pastel shades of the comic shine. The endpapers feature a map of the world of Toki, including plenty of locations we didn’t see featured in the story to flesh out the world.

In Summary
5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince sees Oona taking her next step to save the 5 Worlds and answering some tough questions about her past. Oona is a spirited lead who has, by this volume, already been through more than you should have to ask a child to go through in life, and she’s stood strong through self-doubt and loss. It handles the conflict by not just painting everything in black and white. While there might be an overall unquestionably evil enemy in the mimic, by the end of this volume it’s clear that the darkness in the hearts of humanoids will continue to be a threat. While the story itself has few surprises for older readers it is a solid hero’s story through and through with beautiful art and whimsical worlds for the reader to enjoy. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here.

Content Grade: A –
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A

Age Rating: All Ages
Released By: Random House
Release Date: May 8, 2018
MSRP: Hardcover $20.99 US / $27.99 CN

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