An escalating war unites a ragamuffin with a secret and two fugitives with secrets of their own in this steampunk-tinged opener.
Having herself spent three years in disguise as a news “boy,” orphan Lavender Blue is willing to accept Jack Jingle, a brilliant but distracted inventor, and the oddly clicking, heavily muffled figure Crow as friends without probing into their pasts. Ultimately those pasts come home to roost, though, with revelations that Jack has built a flying war machine and Crow is its reluctant but purpose-built mechanical pilot. An escape attempt ends in a crash, separating it from the main characters and setting up the next volume in the series. Xu creates a nicely realistic 1920s-style setting for events and spaces out her panels to make the action reasonably easy to follow. Her manga-influenced figures, though, display only a limited range of expressions, most of them more exaggerated than called for by the circumstances, and many of the story’s twists are thoroughly telegraphed. Confusingly, the blue-eyed, light-skinned child is tagged as “mixed” (i.e., part Grimmaean) and therefore suspicious for her light hair, while Jack, with similar coloring, is accepted without comment. By and large, characters display a range of skin tones, from dark brown to white.
Despite a few rough edges, a promising start. (Graphic science fiction. 11-13)