A supposed village lad kidnapped to stand in for the vanished prince he resembles rises to the challenge. More or less.
Set in a Darkling Realm of horned, bat-winged people, the tale takes young Seifer Tombchewer (his name inherited from an ancestor who went bonkers after eating “something poisonous that fell asleep in his porridge”) to the royal palace of Pandemonium, where he’s given the choice of temporarily masquerading as Prince Talon or being fed to “psycho carnage beasts.” Making the reasonable choice entails learning how to behave like an arrogant, selfish twit—as well as being mauled by “his” gigantic pet cat, surviving assassination attempts, outbelching the chieftain of a neighboring warrior clan and defeating an invading army. Fortunately, he does have allies, including his royal “sister” Princess Hypoxia and magic-wielding girlfriend-to-be Lady Carcassa, daughter of gambling addict Baron Canasta Malefica. Interspersing outsized GRNARGH! BLORP! SOOG! YAAAAAA! sound effects with scenes featuring sharp-featured, elegantly slender figures, debut illustrator Diaz crafts panels of Japanese comics–style art for Wooding’s somewhat less-than-earnest adventure story. The real prince’s continued absence, a hint of secrets in Seifer’s own past and the sudden arrival of “his” fiancée Lady Asphyxia point to sequels.
An action-packed, tongue-in-cheek romp fitted out with snarky dialogue, heroic fantasy tropes aplenty and a notably resilient protagonist. (Graphic novel. 11-13)