Review – Archaia’s Hopeless Maine: Personal Demons and City in the Desert

Hopeless Maine: Personal Demons

Hopeless Maine is an interesting graphic novel, rated teen for everyone. It feels like Lovecraft for beginners, or what you might give a young kid who’s not quite old enough for Locke & Key. There’s a lot of mystery and set up for this first volume and that’s what the graphic novel feels like, set up for what’s to come.

On the isolated, windswept island of Hopeless, Maine, a young witch finds an abandoned girl named Salamandra in a gothic house. Salamandra doesn’t want to talk about what happened to her parents. She doesn’t want to live in the orphanage either, but there isn’t much choice. Growing up with ghosts, strange creatures and horrible children would be hard enough work for anyone, but there are also the demons to contend with. And Salamandra isn’t sure if she really is an orphan. She hopes so. The alternative would be far worse!

The book is moody and fantastic art, reflecting this gothic world. But, it’s the story I’m torn on. The first part of the graphic novel is a bit jumbled and maybe it was when I was reading it, or the mood I was in, but going through it, I was a bit perplexed at times as to what exactly was going on. I felt like I was dropped into a story already underway.

Salamandra’s battle in this first book also seems a bit stuffed in and a side story as the bigger mysteries and world is set up. There’s so many plot points started, but not completed. It’s a YA book in a way, a thin first volume story wise, whose goal is to set up what comes next. And that’s ok, as this world is interesting. It’s just one of those books I think I’d rather read as a complete set, instead of waiting for the next volume to come out.

Story: Tom and Numue Brown Art: Tom Brown

Story: 7 Art: 8.25 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

City in the Desert: The Monster Problem

Creator Moro Rogers makes you want to pick up your monster hunting rifle and grab your assistant and head out to bag some game. The graphic novel, published by Archaia, invokes popular monster collecting/hunting/breading video games with an art style reminiscent of Persepolis or Tales of Sand.

Monster hunter Irro is perhaps the only person in Kevala making a good living. The city pays him and his tailed assistant, Hari, a bounty for each monster carcass they bring in. But one day a religious sect called The Way of the Sacred Peace comes to Kevala to solve the monster problem by capping the city’s Spirit Fountain. Out of a job with all the monsters gone, Irro and Hari are determined to prove that there is a more sinister plot behind the Sacred Peace’s plan.

The story is solid with an interesting discussion about man and nature’s relationship and the role of religion in our lives. While the graphic novel is for teens, the themes and underlying discussion could be debated for days. There’s more to the book than it’s fun story and beautiful art. The style is minimal but the facial expressions and emotion jumps from the page.

This is the first volume in a multi-volume set and that’s my only complaint. The ending is a bit abrupt and the story doesn’t feel complete. But the fact I immediately want to read the second volume is a good thing. I really enjoyed it and am counting down the days I can get my hands on more stories featuring Irro and Hari.

Story: Moro Rogers Art: Moro Rogers

Story: 8 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Archaia provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review

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