Books for Babes provides info on the sort of comics that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. This week we recommend ‘Scales & Scoundrels: Into the Dragon’s Maw’, the first collected edition of the Image Comics all-ages fantasy tale from Sebastian Girner, Galaad, and Jeff Powell.

Cover to 'Scales & Scoundrels Vol. 1: Into the Dragon's Maw'. Art by Galaad, and Jeff Powell/Image Comics

Cover to ‘Scales & Scoundrels Vol. 1: Into the Dragon’s Maw’. Art by Galaad, and Jeff Powell/Image Comics

By Stefania Rudd. Fantasy adventure is typically not a genre I gravitate towards, but whenever I find myself enthralled by exactly this type of story, I wonder why I don’t delve deeper into this world more often. Such is the case with Sebastian Girner and Galaad’s Scales & Scoundrels, Vol. 1: Into the Dragon’s Maw, a collection of the first five issues of this easy to read, fast-paced monthly series from Image Comics.

From the moment our protagonist, Luvander (Lu), appeared in a rough and tumble bar to kick the locals’ butts in a card game, I was hooked. Immediately she is called a cheat, and a fight breaks out. She escapes, naturally, and runs out of town as fast as she can. Lu is a mystery to us, and as the story continues we get little glimpses into who — or what — she actually is.

She ends up bumping into a small group in the woods who are about to become toast by roving thieves, and saves them. The leader of the group, Prince Akisbjorne (Aki) offers Lu a spot in their party and lets her know of their quest to find a lost city of golden treasure. Though Aki’s bodyguard, Koro, is initially leery of Lu, Koro recognizes that she can be of help. Aki and his crew are also accompanied by Dorma Ironweed, a Dwarven guide who is also fairly new to the Prince’s journey, and full of energy, cooking skills, and paralyzing fear… of the dark.

Gold? Jewels? Fortune? Lu’s in!

Writer Sebastian Girner keeps the story light-hearted and fun even when things get sticky for our group. You see their strengths play out in situations when they have to work together as a team, and how quickly things can fall apart when they are separated or don’t show trust in one another. Even though Lu is the main character, you get to know the others as more than just background support through the choices they make or what others reveal about them. Girner’s balance of character is wonderful.

The dialogue between the characters comes across as natural. Girner provides enough humor to keep the story moving and the reader engages. As this is a collection of the first five issues of an ongoing series, it’s clear where each issue begins and ends. Yet the flow of the story overall works; the book functions best when viewed as a continuous wave of cliffhangers that resolve nicely as the saga continues.

I also love the air of mystery that surrounds Lu. Through the writing bits of her are revealed to us; these moments are treated as a wink and a nod to the reader, as if to say, “Your instincts are proving correct about her, shall we keep going?”

Galaad’s artwork takes that fantasy adventure trope and creates a lush and detailed world for our characters. Within these five issues, the backgrounds range from sleepy towns to cavernous dwellings to watery graves. The inhabitants of most of these places have distinct characteristics that bring the action to life. The characters in our core group have wonderfully realized features and costuming, as well. The style of Galaad’s art is appealing for younger readers, but is so well done it is accessible to any age. It also doesn’t get too dark or gory like some fantasy can. The coloring is vibrant, bold, and enhances the art.

I genuinely enjoyed the story of Lu and the motley crew she has allied herself with. Again, fantasy/adventure is not something I actively seek out, but knowing that books like this are out there, my interest has piqued exponentially. In the meantime, long live Scales & Scoundrels! Long may it reign.

Image Comics/$9.99 

Written by Sebastian Girner.

Art by Galaad.

Letters by Jeff Powell.

This book contains some scary mythical creatures, and physical violence.

Collects ‘Scales & Scoundrels’ #1-5.

Age range: 8-11, 12-15, 16+

‘Scales & Scoundrels Vol. 1: Into the Dragon’s Maw’ is available now.