Published by Vault Comics, written by Jon Tsuei, with art from Audrey Mok, colors from Raúl Angulo, and letters by Jim Campbell, Sera and the Royal Stars is a new epic fantasy set within a Persian landscape. Bringing magic and adventure in equal parts, Sera and the Royal Stars is beautiful and action packed.
In this inaugural issue, it’s clear from her first panel that Sera, princess of the Empire of Parsa, is a warrior. She is respected on the battlefield as she fights back her uncle’s troops and protects her family’s empire. Sera and the Royal Stars #1 also sets up Sera up for the time-tested hero’s journey. While in the middle of battle, the princess receives her call to action in the form of a vision from the deity known as Mitra, telling her to find the Royal Stars and to return them to the heavens. With the Royal Stars stranded on Earth, time’s flow is interrupted, causing the seasons to stop, threatening all life.
But, as with most heroes, this call isn’t easily answered. She is already a leader and the best tactician in the Empire. Sera is forced to decide between meeting her army’s needs now and being present with them, or, fulfilling the duty given to her by Mitra to save their future. Not only does Sera and the Royal Stars #1 introduce us to Sera and her quest. It also introduces us to her family, their connection to Mitra, and how the gods have intervened in their family before.
In Sera and the Royal Stars #1 we get a glimpse at the royal family dynamics. It sets the stage for the support system around Sera as she chooses to embark on Mitra’s journey and keep time flowing on Earth. With a brother and sister just as strong-willed as her, I’m looking forward to seeing their dynamic going forward – that is, if they cross paths again.
Her first stop in the quest is a departure from the sand of the opening pages. Bright greens, blues, and purples showcase the wide-open world that Sera inhabits in this story, alongside fantastic creatures and even a god. Mok’s art is fantastical and detailed. Everything is beautiful: from Sera’s clothes that remind me of the very best outfit choices in Assassin’s Creed games, to the atmosphere in the pieces of the world we see this issue, to the god Mitra themself.
Stylistically, Sera may be my favorite female character of any of the comics I am reading. While this is a testament to Mok’s art, it is also due to Angulo’s colors. Every detail of the panel pops out, distinguished against the background and everything else around it. This is especially true in the vision Sera receives from Mithra. The god is golden, but even with being all one color, they have depth.
I have always been in love with a good hero’s journey. As a life long fantasy fan, seeing new authors use the established archetypes in new and inventive ways is always exciting. That said, more often than not, fantasy stories are quite repetitive: a lead guy who looks almost indistinguishable from any other lead guy in other series set in the same European-esque high fantasy worlds.
While these aren’t bad, the genre does stagnate. Fortunately, with Sera and the Royal Stars #1, we get to see fantasy from the Persian perspective and through a woman’s eyes. Sera and the Royal Stars continues Vault Comics’ roster of diverse and inventive fantasy, joining another book I am currently reviewing She Said Destroy.
Sera and the Royal Stars #1 is a beautiful opening to the start of a fantasy. Tsuei knows the genre extremely well and his dialogue feels authentic, especially between Sera and her family. The dialogue is also powerful in defining Sera as a character. It shows us, rather than telling us, where her moral compass lies in the early pages as she instructs her troops to allow the enemy forces to bury their dead. From Tsuei’s writing to Mok’s art and Angulo’s colors to Campbell’s perfect lettering, I am undeniably hooked.
Sera and the Royal Stars #1 is available for purchase now.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.