Kriss is not like the other men in his remote medieval village.
With a sickly gray pallor, a lithe, decidedly nonmuscled physique, and long, lank hair falling over black-ringed eyes, orphaned Kriss was left to live in a Game of Thrones–inspired village with an uncaring farmer and his wife. Kriss’ solace is best friend Anja, who is beautiful, blonde, and unwaveringly loyal to him. After a viciously victorious fight with an enchanted wildcat, he is offered the gift of wrath, which manifests as a sinister internal voice. Kriss tries to carve a place for himself in the village, finding a knack for blacksmithing in Anja’s father’s smithy. However, when Anja’s machismo-drenched, square-jawed brother attempts to murder him in a fit of jealousy, Kriss is the one who finds himself ostracized when he defends himself. Alone again, Kriss ventures out to uncover his shadowy past and learn where he fits in to his world. Naifeh’s (Night's Dominion Vol. 2, 2018, etc.) graphic novel is an utterly enjoyable first volume with accessible worldbuilding and an eye-catching goth-tinged aesthetic. While the cast is abundantly white, Kriss thoughtfully explores male gender constructs and toxic masculinity. Most of the men Kriss encounters have some air of entitlement that he squashes with force, however he must confront his own violent impulses and bring his own accountability to the forefront.
A brooding, dark thrill ride that interrogates machismo. (Graphic fantasy. 13-adult)