Aristophania details the struggles of three children as they try to overcome a family tragedy and the struggles of poverty. A world of magic hides on the edges of their reality and one of its most impressive users is Aristophania. This is a character both surprising and incredibly badass. She appears to be in her 70’s but don’t let that fool you. She’s incredibly powerful and can unarm half a dozen men with nothing more than a cane and a flick of the wrist. Her mastery of magic is a sight to behold and provides most of the excitement in this entertaining volume.
Aristophania Volume 1: The Kingdom of Azur
Written by Xavier Dorison
Art by Joël Parnotte
The story itself is a great twist on a Victor Hugo-type tale. We see the effects of poverty on families in Paris, struggling to make ends meet as the factory life becomes more dangerous every day. Aristophania is the children’s guardian angel figure, whisking them away to her estate and giving them all they could want. It’s not enough for the three children who only want to confront the villain who killed their father. This is a disgusting dude who likes to eat rats and can throw cars. The artist did a great job giving us someone to revile.
The artwork is especially adept in the landscape and broader city scenes. We see this beauty hiding in the countryside, in stark contrast with the grunginess of the city. The panel sizing is constantly altering to fit the fast moving story, providing many opportunities for unique scenes and styles.
Aristophania is a tale of redemption and hidden power. Pairing fantasy with a spotlight on poverty creates a narrative with a hopeful future, one without the toils we see in the early pages. The strong dialogue and intricate artwork make this a series I look forward to following.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.