IDW Publishing’s Codex Black: A Fire Among Clouds by Camilo Moncada Lozano, sets off a beautiful and lush Mesoamerican fantasy epic!
Mythological winged beasts soaring over snowy mountain ranges. The clashing sound of a Knight’s blade in a bid for their empires or even romance. Sorcerers wielding magic in the name of good and evil. These are just some of the magical elements that make fantasy a beloved genre. I’ve been eating it up since I was a young nerd watching The Chronicles of Narnia for the first time. As an even younger nerd it was films like The Never Ending Story and The Lord of The Rings. Those classic elements, coupled with the expert world building and a character driven story, easily make Camilo Moncada Lozano’s new thrilling fantasy epic, Codex Black: A Fire Among Clouds, a modern gateway into the fantasy genre for a young generation of readers.
Published by IDW, this Meso-American historical fiction follows Donaji, a gutsy teenage Zapotec girl, who upon turning fifteen years old decides she is ready to embark on a quest to find her missing father. Donaji is not traveling alone though. Chicahualizteotl–the overprotective god that resides in her poncho—joins her on this adventure. Together they travel through the dense jungles of the Cemanahuac (The Aztec Empire). They quickly meet Itzacacalotl, a seventeen year old Mexica warrior. Separated from his caravan and eager to see more of the world, Itzacacalotl decides to stick with Donaji. Together they try to find their way through the jungle and all of the dangers hidden in its landscape. This partnership makes way for a friendship full of peril and mystery, while grounding the story in the importance of finding power within yourself and your community.
Lozano is a Mexican artist based in Mexico City whose rich history, like most, is rooted in conquest and a mythology that guides its natives to this day. That mythology lends its creatures and superstitions to this story and helps create some of the more tense action filled scenes where we get to witness our two heroes harness their powers and protect each other and the people around them.
Lozano not only writes the story but he also manages to illustrate the world beautifully. Sweeping landscapes and pages allow you to feel the breadth of handling that comes from a singular mind. With the assist on colors is Angel De Santiago, who’s palette is full of warm colors that make the characters and their designs pop. Greens that make the world feel lush and blues in the sky and water that bring the pages to life. These vibrant colors make the darker tones feel a lot more striking in tense moments or awkward situations.
The book itself is the first entry of an ongoing series. Serving its purpose in getting the reader invested in the characters, the world they inhabit, and the mystery that lies ahead. Though by the end you don’t see too much resolution to some of the plot points that are set up. Lozano takes us on the classic hero’s journey, sure, but the path is different. One we don’t get to travel too often and that makes this a journey worth going on. Codex Black: A Fire Among Clouds is out now! So call your shop and ask them to save you a copy!
Editor’s note: Carlos’ thoughts on Codex Black: A Fire Among Clouds might be over but fret not. You can check out his review/interview for Dark Horse Comics’ Under Kingdom here.