Story: John Tsuei
Art: Audrey Mok
Colors: Raul Angulo
Letterer: Jim Campbell
What They Say:
Civil war rages in the Empire of Parsa, and famine has struck. As the seasons refuse to turn, Princess Sera receives a vision from the deity Mitra telling her to find the Royal Stars and restore them to the heavens. Despite her kingdom and her troops’ need of her command, Sera embarks on a quest to find the fallen stars—now trapped on earth—and save her people from dearth and death.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
There’s an appeal in tales like this, one that’s often told through manga more than Western comics, and that made it very easy to be drawn into Sera and the Royal Stars. The book comes from writer John Tsuei as he drops us into the middle of a civil war and doles out helpful bits throughout. Audrey Mok handles the art duties here and she brings to life this world of battles, plains, and remote villages that really clicks as it reminds me of a lot of documentaries I’ve seen on those that live in remote Asia. With a nod to the gods above and much bloodshed to come, the focus is on one young woman who must save her people by trusting in visions from what may be the gods.
A civil war ragiing within the Empire of Parsa is the backdrop here as the king and his brother are fighting. The queen was the one able to hold the peace between the two of them over time but with her lost it’s now turned to more direct warfare. And that has the warrior princess Sera fighting against her uncle Shaheen’s forces as they try to take the capital city. Sera’s a solid tactician that has helped give them the advantage over the invading side and the book opens just as they turn back another round of the enemy. This comes amid an unexpected eclipse, however, and Sera falls pray to a vision during it – something that happened to her mother as well. It’s within this vision that Sera is met by a god named Mitra that wants her to perform a mission that will help save Parsa but it requires leaving the kingdom. With her mother lost to visions like this before, Sera’s not exactly keen.
The book gives us a good look at how things operate within Sera’s family as we meet her brother and sister, who are rightly concerned about how she’s having these visions, and how the family dynamic was somewhat stable for some time before resulting in this war. Tsuei gives us a lot to work with while dropping us into the middle of it all and sending Sera off on a mission once she realizes the scale of darkness to come, finally trusting Mitra just a little. The opposing side just gets a page or so of material so hopefully we’ll see more out of them but with them done up in all black and just looking evil, we may not get a lot of nuance here. I really like what Audrey Mok brings to the page as the layouts are engaging and the costume design for Sera and the others feels like exactly what it should be for where they come from and the weather of the plains and more. There’s a kind of authenticity to it all that works outside of the all-black armored forces.
Sera and the Royal Stars is a familair piece and I got a bit of a Yona of the Dawn vibe from it that definitely kept me interested. These kinds of stories are a lot more common on the manga side of comics so I’m curious to see what Tsuei brings to life here with it and how expansive it gets. I’m also keen to see more of Audrey Mok’s world design as I like what we get here with Sera’s costume and overall design and that of the landscape that we’re seeing once she gets out of the city and initial battle. It’s definitely a solid book that handles dropping the reader into the middle of events without making them feel completely lost, which is a great skill for a writer that I wish more had.
Age Rating: 12+
Released By: Vault Comics
Release Date: July 17th, 2019