Graphic Novel, Teens, Young Adult

Codex Black: A Fire Among the Clouds by Camila Mancada Lozano & Angel De Santiago

Guest post by Cathy Kyle

This was a great introduction to Aztec history and mythology which is rarely written about in comic books, especially those that are geared for teens. Teens have lots to read about Greek mythology, but as far as I know, Aztec mythology is underrepresented, which is a shame because this was fascinating. Many different Aztec words are used and the author made sure to include the definitions. I think this adds to its interest factor and the authenticity.

The story follows two teens: a girl named Donaji of Quie Yelaag and a boy named Itzcacalott, a Mexica warrior. They meet in the middle of the woods, while Donaji is attempting to find her father and Itzcacalott is trying to find himself in amongst all his fellow warriors. At first, their relationship was built mainly upon trying to get out of the woods, but then they become strong friends, which becomes important as they begin fighting beasts, thieves and malevolent gods.

What makes these two teens special? Donaji has a god living in her poncho (which used to be her dad’s). This godlike poncho makes Donaji stronger and more resistant to all sorts of illnessess, damages and poisons, but it doesn’t leave her free from harm. Excessive fighting depletes her energy quickly and she can die just like anyone else. Itzcacalott, who is obsessed with crows and creates a warrior costume out of shed wings, suddenly gets wings of his own, which helps in all of their battles.

The art is both light and dark. The illustrations of Donaji and Itzcacalott are both big eyed and smiling, while the evil characters are very dark and sometimes disturbing. Anyone interested in a headless creature with an open chest so you can view their heart? You’ll find it here.

This is a great read that I may not have otherwise picked up, so I was grateful for the opportunity. Recommended for graphic novel collections.

Publication Date: April 4, 2023
Published By: Penguin Random House
Thanks to the Publisher for the review copy