Matthew Childers brings us a story that begins like many others: an impetuous youth striving to attain a honored place among “protectors of the realm.” True, it’s one that we’re quite familiar with, as it’s the basis for everything from Star Wars to Top Gun, but as with those examples, it’s about how the story is told that makes it worth reading. Childers writes a story that needs to be read.
There’s nothing surprising in the first issue plotwise, but that’s never the expectation of the beginning of a series. It’s the world building that is important here, and Childers has created a world that already seems bigger than this issue can contain. It’s a living, breathing thing that gives us the impression that, much like his protagonist, we’ve got a lot to learn about it. That’s one of the things that I like about this kind of tale. It lets us experience the world in the same way as the character. Even though they’ve lived in it for much longer than we have, they still have much to learn about “how things work.” What makes it enticing is the potential that it creates, whether these “lessons” are things to be accepted or fought against. As this tends towards being an all-ages book, I think we can expect the former, but the tone of the book is so interesting that I wouldn’t rule anything out. This is all accomplished with a genuine subtlety: a stray comment here, a dodged assumption there - it's really quite well done. There’s a bit of rebellion against patriarchy in the feel of the book, as we have what will seem to be a strong female protagonist, but there are moments that still read as a man writing these types of things from an understandably outside position. It's nothing that detracts from the book, and the attempt at fighting it is valiant, but it slips in here and there.
The artwork is clean and engaging, perfect for the open audience that would enjoy the book. The artwork is engaging and bright, hearkening back to the old four-color heydays, but "comic" enough for younger readers to easily follow along. Childers has taken the Groening rule of easily identifiable silhouettes for all of his characters to heart, and it makes for some interesting character designs that carry a surprising amount of variety. Childers has a good sense of rhythm and pacing and really utilizes the page and panel placement very well.
This is good, solid storytelling from both sides of the equation. Matthew Childers knows a good way to tell a story, and I look forward to the future of Moon Hunters as well as checking out his other work. You can see the fruits of all of his various labors at MatthewChilders.com.
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