Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 190

Broxo

by Zack Giallongo
Genre notes: high fantasy, YA probably but that's just a marketing demographic so who knows
240 pages
ISBN: 1596435518 (Amazon)

The titular Broxo (of Zack Giallongo’s Broxo) is not the main character of his own book. That distinction goes to Zora, a warrior cut more from the mold of Miyazaki princesses than from Disney’s pampered-chef variety. She’s no fan of slumming in the wastelands, but she’s doing her bit to support her family’s vision of uniting the five clans under a single purpose—and because that end requires means so unappetizing as crawling the wastes, that’s what she will do. She’s pretty badass like that. Plus, she has awesome little decorative wings on the side of her headband and she’s easily the first character I’ve ever seen pull that one off. (Sorry Captain America. Sorry Hermes. Sorry Hawkman.) She’s also smart, tenacious, and maybe not so competent with a sword as the loner she meets, a boy king named Broxo.

Broxo opens with Zora cresting a plateau in search of the Peryton clan so that she might deliver the news of unification, that all the people of the Penthos might once more be as one. She finds instead a pretty shabby place, a land mostly of gloom and murk—deserted save for a small few inhabitants, each with their own things going on. One of these is Broxo, and the remainder of the book dwells on their interactions and adventures. These, despite their clash of cultures and the gathering darkness, are a joy to follow.

I’ll tell you this now: the fact that there isn’t presently a sequel to Broxo rushing from the printers to the publisher on its way to a speedy distribution breaks my heart. Because I want more of these two. I want more adventures that will make me hurt all over vicariously (even if the characters themselves seem immune to my own current frailties). Giallongo has charmed me.

A large part of Broxo's depth is founded on its principal two characters. Both Zora and Broxo are mixes of strengths and weaknesses, a combination whose powers come to outweigh its inadequacies. Zora is brave but foolhardy and reckless. She’s good with a bow and okay with a sword. She’s driven by her ambitions but is a bit ethnocentric, leaning on the belief that her civilization (the one doing the uniting) is the superior and that what’s left of Broxo’s betrays barbarian savagery. To usurp Avatar, she’s got a lot to learn before she’s ready to unite anybody.

Broxo is himself a strong fighter, wily, and at home with the dangers of the plateau, but he’s ignorant of many things. He’s weighed down by a history he only partly knows and a past he’s largely forgotten. He’s far from socialized and despite his guileless overtures, he trips a number of social blunders that make working together with Zora a difficulty. He has a larger responsibility than he’s aware and swaggers a bit more than he deserves.

The beautiful thing about Broxo is watching these two strong figures bend and snap and bend again in order to preserve their lives, understand each other, and ultimately evolve closer to that personal state that was previously sequestered in the realm of Mere Potential. As in any realistic growth situation, there’s friction and forgiveness. It’s a good and well-thought-out relationship and not one I expected to find in what is essentially a Conan-esque tale of adventure, fantasy, and zombie apocalypsis.

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