It’s not a bad comparison to call Comixology the Netflix of graphic novels and comics. Much like Netflix’s release of in-house produced films and TV shows, Comixology has been releasing their own books. One of the best original Comixology series I’ve read, has been the first collection of The Stone King by Kel McDonald and Tyler Crook. The Stone King tells a thoroughly original fantasy story without relying too much on genre tropes. It’s a fun, light story filled action and beautiful artwork to dive in and enjoy.
The Stone King uses a classic fantasy setting of a medieval town run by guilds to establish the story quickly, but the comic’s artwork lends in the process greatly. It opens with a montage of a girl riding a giant dog creature over rough, hilly terrain. They’re chasing after an enormous rock giant. The colors are earthy, but not dull. The girl smacks the giant with a grappling hook and scales up his back. As the girl, a thief named Ave, climbs the giant, she gathers moss and then find a strange gem poking of his shoulder. The opening scene established not only our hero and her sidekick, but the strange healing moss trade and the mysterious jewel around which the plot revolves. Maybe it isn’t the first story ever to involve chasing after treasure, but it does hook readers right away with its drama and instant action.
Once started, the pace hardly slows. Ave bumps into guard trainee Phul, who later becomes our secondary lead. The town continues to be developed, but the basics come across pretty clear: the town governs itself, but relies on a black market economy for the moss from the giant, called the Stone King. A group of guards police the town, but cannot crack down on the smuggling trade. The most valuable commodity has proven to be moss that grows on the Stone King, which instantly heals wounds. Pretty soon, the town finds the Stone King attacking them and only Ave has any clue why.
Ave must navigate the crumbling streets with the help of a motley cast of characters in order to make things right with the Stone King. Her fellow thieves live by a code of loyalty, but one that brooks no dissention. Ave expresses desires to leave the city or take on other duties, but always meets with resistance in the thieves’ guild. Ave’s routine betrayal by these scoundrels makes her seem kind of naive, but mildly annoying. On the other side of the law, Phul and the guards seem a little incompetent to justify their own existance sometimes. The story does not require a deeper explanation, though, and it quickly makes up for any disappointment with nonstop fistfights and cartoony acrobatics, In order to chase down a giant walking boulder, Ave parkours her way over valleys and through shattered cities in order to the Stone King, and ultimately, more treasure.
With The Stone King, Comixology has provided a pretty fun comic book. It’s an excellent read for a dreary weekend that needs a little adventure injected into it. The artwork looks every bit as stunning as it might on a page, and the story delivers action and fantasy fun from start to finish. Hoping for sequel, or at least a print run to share with friends.
Three out of five stars
Page count: 129