Chico Comics Page Review: The Highest House #1
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Mike Carey
Illustrator: Peter Gross
Colorist: Fabien Alquier
Letterer: Peter Gross
Reviewer: Chris “The Bearded Wonder” Natale
When I first looked into this issue, the description piqued my curiosity. A slave boy becoming friends with an entity who promises him happiness (you can’t tell me that doesn’t sound cool). Anyway, upon reading this issue, I have to say that Carey did a solid job with writing these characters. When first seeing Moth, you really feel for him. He is a young slave boy who enjoys the simple things in life. One day, his life is flipped upside down when his mother has no choice but to sell him to a magister named Cael Extat in order to feed and support her other children. I think that the Magister knows something more about Moth than he lets on. He gives the mother three bars of Aldercrest steel (apparently better than gold), plus the rest of his copper and silver that he brought in exchange for Moth. He only paid seven silvers for another slave he bought, meaning that there is something special about Moth. The Magister reminds me of Jafar from Aladdin minus a Gilbert-Gottfried-voiced sidekick and he isn’t as obviously evil. I like the mystery behind him as well as some of the other characters in this book. You cannot tell if the Magister is good or evil. He looks evil, but his actions say otherwise. He does not reveal his intentions or everything he knows outright. He seems like he has some skeletons in his closet that he isn’t revealing just yet. The Magister seems to care for the boy to some extent in regards to educating him and almost taking him under his wing in a way. I enjoyed this book and Carey’s writing has me invested in what is going to happen next.
When looking at the art, even though Peter Gross’s art is not my favorite, I felt that the characters were drawn very simply and effective for the story being told. His use of facial expressions were well done and you could read some of the characters’ faces and how they were feeling even if they did not have dialogue. Some of my favorite moments with his art were when the Magister used this projector-like object to outline the history of the Aldercrest family on the walls of his tent. Another is when a character is explaining to Moth what tools and pieces are involved in making roofs on top of buildings. Another aspect of Gross’ art that I would like to talk about is the way he draws architecture. There were two pages in this book that I was in awe of and had to spend a minute admiring the little details of each. The lettering is also done by Gross. He did a good job in making it very fluid with his art and I had no problems following along. The colors by Fabien Alquier really set the dark and mysterious tone of the issue. He used a lot of darker tones and some light colors here and there. I felt that Gross’s art and Alquier’s colors worked for this story and I did not feel as if I was forcing myself to read each page.
Overall, this book has me invested in some of the characters it introduced. It is great because the characters do not reveal all their cards just yet and it seems that there are layers to each. It left me wanting to know more about Moth and the Magister. The art is simple and effective between the pencils and the colors being used. I think what really sold me on this book was the cliffhanger on the last page. Some books may end abruptly, but even though I knew the premise of the book beforehand, this part was left me wanting to know what happens next. Obviously if a book is good, this will happen 9 times out of 10 to readers like myself, but not always. I just wanted to point that out. I will be interested to see where this next issue takes our main character and his mischievous owner.
In the village of Bokenuk, a young boy named Moth lives with his mother and her four other children. One day, upon his mother’s request, he is out looking for crabs on Sakonset Beach when his half-sister, Jet, calls him back home. A magister, Cael Extat of Clan Aldercrest, has arrived in town looking to buy slaves along with his right-hand, Neem. After seeing numerous slaves, Moth and Jet are brought to him. Magister Extat refuses to buy Jet, but buys Moth after “testing the limits of his perceptions.” Who is this man? What are his intentions with the young slave boy? Is Moth caught up in something beyond his understanding?
Are you afraid, Moth? The Highest House #1 does a good job of introducing likeable, yet mysterious characters whose secrets have secrets. The art was very simple, but effective. I enjoyed the facial expressions on certain characters along with the architecture shown in the book. The official rating by the Bearded Wonder is a chinstrap on the beard scale, which is an 8/10.
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