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In the Four Kingdoms of the Diurne, none is more feared than the Black Horn, the Land of Eternal Twilight. Here, the people enjoy a long-standing relationship with the Nocturne, the ghostly realm lying parallel to the Diurne, something the other three Kingdoms find distasteful and vexing. Relations between the Four Kingdoms are inimical at best, with the balance between the Diurne and the Nocturne always on edge. So when Astra the Black (Heir to The Black Horn, Shadow Lord Aspirant, The Doom Fazer), daughter to Strato The Black (The Moon Prince, Lord of Darkness, Lord of the Black Horn, Hero of the Midnight Tide) dares to climb the Seat of Shadows, she unknowingly sets in motion a domino effect, throwing the Black Horn into chaos, with the other Kingdoms and the Nocturne rushing towards a celestial war.
Created by Moon Cabal, Astral Aves (pronounced astrəl ävāz) is a fantasy comic about adventure and commerce. Pulling components from early horror and high fantasy, with elements of political thrillers and economic fiction, the story is about a young girl and her best friend who must navigate a world where everything has a price and secrets abound. What sets Astral Aves apart are the details, going heavily into Latin and Umbrian language, history, and culture, along with antiquity references. Much of the story deals with astrophysical and cosmological science, similar to the alchemist principles of antiquity, so keep a dictionary handy for unfamiliar terms. Similar to early high fantasy, mysticism abounds, with themes of mythology, long-lost lore, and dark magic intertwined.
At times, the comic also pokes fun at the high fantasy tropes, such as a character commenting that “everyone here has like thirty titles,” a relatively common theme in such stories. Unlike high fantasy, Astra does not dither or use her femininity to get her way. In fact, there are many female characters, both good and bad, who fight with equal vigor to the male characters, and there is no surprise that they do. All around, this is an excellent comic with a female protagonist who is confident in her abilities, abandoning the usual tropes of a “warrior woman.” Astra the Black is not afraid of reaching her goal and doing what it takes to get there, even if that means “burning the cosmos.”
Due to the Four Kingdoms being divided among the components of the day (i.e. Dusk, Dawn, Noon, Afternoon), the characters share similar traits to their home landscape. Astra, being from the twilight Kingdom, has a dark, wild look, while her friend Pippa of Sol Solaris (Noon) has a beachy vibe. The Nocturne is where Moon Cabal’s work stands out; a surreal dreamscape filled with ghosts and spirits both familiar and not. The coloring in the Diurne is also based on location; the Dusk and Dawn Kingdoms fall more on the cool spectrum, using shading as there is little natural light, while the Noon and Afternoon Kingdoms are bright in primaries. The Nocturne has spectral shades of purple and black, highlighting the otherworldliness of the dimension.
Astral Aves is about eldritch secrets, mystery cults, and trans-dimensional economics. Read of Astra’s further adventures at Astralaves.com.