A coworker likes this series (and creator) a lot. But I am still on the fence about Ralph Azham V01 Black Are the Stars. I can appreciate the hard work, the time, and the effort it takes to create something this detailed, involved and creative. However, I am not sure if I like it.
The characters in this classic Lewis Trondheim tale are mostly unlikable. Even the kids are not endearing. And do not get me started on the main character, Ralph. He is not even an anti-hero. He is just…. Ralph. Sure, you learn the secret his father kept from him (which probably saved his life) but that does not make it easier to like him. Yet, that is the point. I think. There are evils and mysteries and secrets and magic. The people are not good or even nice. Even nice people have a motive and agenda (usually money). They are struggling, trying to get what they can, grab power, be soldiers, fathers, thieves, and bullies. There is a medieval setting, with a modern tone.
Some of the bumps I have with the story probably come from it being a translation (my eyes and inner reading hearing do not always like translations, by no fault of theirs). The other is I am wondering if information is missing, edited or I just missed it. (Was the child being (sort of) cared for by Ralph killed, disappeared or what?) This is not a book you can sit and be distracted while reading. There is a lot going on. There is war, espionage, death, and more. It is not a one shot read; I think reading a second time would not hurt.
When talking to my coworker about this graphic novel/comic series, I asked if they thought a Mature TinTin was accurate. They didn’t seem to agree, but my point is, it is not the lighter idea of TinTin or comics in general. It is mature, with murder, violent deaths by ghosts and the people alike, and violence (blood, body parts, cartoon death eyes, strangling, and an advisor’s butt). Yet, you will get a chuckle or two as well.
The cover shows the artwork. It is busy, sometimes to a fault. The colors are mostly there to show the backdrop, but not necessarily to take away from the story. But sometimes I wonder if it adds anything either. The action feels stunted at times, but you can almost forgive that as it does capture you to some extent. There are at least two other volumes coming later this year. However, even though I wish to know if the “bad guy gets it,” I am also not sure I want to invest more time with it. This is for certain a book that you need to experience yourself and not rely on another’s opinion.
But if you like offbeat, off color and even perverse at times, this is the book for you. While kids can read, I would not go under ages strong 10, but more likely strong ages 12 and older.