Born of Flame – Kiani Volume 1

After reading about Kiani within the pages of Fathom, it seemed like the time was finally right that she received her own series.  It is fitting as well, as Kiani is one of the most interesting characters in the Aspen universe.  She is ferocious and independent, fierce and strong yet also tender underneath with a love of her friends and a loyalty that knows no bounds. She has a troubled past and one that she longs to explore herself as she longs to know why she is the way she is.  Cannon had a series as did Killian, so giving Kiani one, seems like the next logical step.  Written by Vince Hernandez with art by Marcus To, inks by Don Ho and the ever dependable Peter Steigerwald on colours, Kiani is a series a long time in the making.

Dealing with the loss of her friend and ally, Brande, Kiani is faced with also coming to terms with her parentage.  After so many years she finally learns that Killian and Anya are her father and mother and that it was them who had entrusted her to Casque.  To say she is a little angry is an understatement, especially with the recent events of the Blue Sun and the war with the humans.  And so Kiani sets out to find Killian’s remains, not knowing he still lives, and to do that she must go through the Nameless Drift to Aescylot, a realm inhabited by a far removed sect of the Blue.  Making it through, she is hailed by the people as their saviour returned, Kira, and given a new blade, one made of flames and she soon finds out, forged with Killian’s essence.  In the end, Kiani’s beliefs are tested and she chooses family over all else.

One thing that stands tall about this series more than anything else is the artwork by Marcus To.  It is leaps and bounds above the previous series he drew and is just incredibly beautiful to look at.  The covers are dynamic, even though they usually feature a solo Kiani shot, and they convey a subtle power and almost regal bearing in her portrayal.  The cover to the second issue is probably the most striking image to ever make the front of an Aspen book with a simple image of Kiani in shadow with the sword of flame held towards her dripping blood.  It is dark, moody, and dangerous almost and the contrast between this cover and the rest in the series tells you exactly what the content of the book will be like.  Here is hoping that To will come back to the Aspen fold one day after moving over to DC.

There is one drawback to the series and that was not featuring the lead character enough.  If you are going to have one character take the spotlight with her name on the title of the book, then that character should be featured about eighty to ninety percent of the time.  In this miniseries, it only felt like we got about sixty, if that.  In the Aspen universe, the thing they accomplish better than anything else is a strong sense of continuity and history.  As you read one of the books, and it can be any book, the overall storyline flows from series to series.  It is one of the best things that they do, but in some instances, and in this particular series, it does not help as to tell the story they want to tell and to keep that continuity going, they have to focus on more than just one character.  Kiani should have been more front and center, keep the Aescylot stuff, and have the Killian and Anya storyline in as they have a direct impact on the theme of family which plays out in this book.  The rest, while interesting, could have been left out or found another stage as to not take away from the main character.

While not every series can be the best series on the stands, it was hopeful that this series would have been just a bit better than it was.  By no mean was it terrible, far from it and Vince Hernandez knows what he is doing.  Aside from a little split focus, it delivered what it needed to do and gave Kiani the showcase she had deserved.  Overall, it was a pretty good miniseries, and pushed the story forward where it needed to be as it moves into the third volume of Fathom.

3.5 out of 5

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