I must say that the intriguing, colorful artwork centering on two brown-skinned twin sisters certainly caught my eye, and thankfully so. The Tiger’s Tongue #1 looked like a comic steeped in enough folklore and world-building to keep me from wanting for more. With a story penned by Olivia Stephens, this comic features illustrations by Diansakhu Banton-Perry. Additional credits for the series include coloring by Bex Glendining and lettering by Joamette Gil, with Odera Igbokwe as cover artist on the creative team for this new series.
Published by Mad Cave Comics, The Tiger’s Tongue #1 is an exciting opening. It greets us full of magic, politics, and tensions between family and kingdom, all with two sisters finding themselves competing in a fight they never thought they would be in for.
Depending on what side of the globe you are, twins are perceived as an auspicious sign. However, in other cultures, twins are thought to be bad luck with ties to superstitions in history and folklore alike. Upon first looking at the cover of Tiger’s Tongue’s first issue, I felt that belief would trickle into the narrative of power, legacy, and identity. I wasn’t wrong. The story presented to readers shares a place where familiars walk beside humans, and a power struggle is ongoing. The royal family comes from a people who once saved a tiger’s life and in turn, were granted gifts through their family line.
On the eve of becoming adults, twin princesses Kelindi and Aridani hold the future of the Claw, the mountain which they call their home, in their hands. In this story, the central conflict is the tensions between their people and The River People, the ones ruled over by their family in power. Yet as we learn by the issue’s end, the path to the crown and the next ruler isn’t as simple as they initially assumed or thought.
Writer Stephens has penned something special here with this first issue. Already familiar with her other work, I know she can write great stories with not just young women, but she’s tackled stories with supernatural elements and very high stakes. I am so in love with this universe she’s helped create. This narrative, which speaks on the complexities of sisterhood, looks to be just as important as the themes of responsibility and obligation to family.
Banton-Perry’s artwork helps me visualize a world I’d love to explore and get lost in despite being on the brink of war. This part of the world that the two princesses call home is marvelous to behold. Readers will see panels of tiger familiars grimacing along with pages depicting meetings inside a weapon smith’s shop with a bevy of weapons and accessories to look at. But what’s most striking are the sisters with heterochromia and different colored hair and a fantasy world with no lack of people of color or a variety of hairstyles from braided plaits to Bantu knots. The fantasy setting already set it apart for me, and seeing all the diverse characters that inhabit this world is a big bonus.
There is this really lovely warm tone that colors most of the pages. Glendining’s unique coloring emulates the feeling of a stroll through a marketplace or even a grand ceremonial event. I’m happy to see Gil’s lettering in yet another Mad Cave comic; her work here really elevates several pages, like hyping up the energy of Kelindi’s sparring session, complete with fire magic and steel. Gil’s handling of a page detailing how onlookers interpreted the soft-hearted princess Aridani as she interacted with the locals is masterful.
Also, as a huge fan of Odera Igbokwe, whose illustrations and paintings celebrate the magic of the African Diaspora and QTBIPOC communities, having their art on the cover really leads with intent. As this comic looks inspired by and is set in a country with brown-skinned people, this creative choice complements the comic extremely well and does not go unnoticed.
Even with the inclusion of the dead mother trope that’s so often found in fantasy stories, this first issue of The Tiger’s Tongue includes stunning art that helps flesh out a world I want to get lost in. I love the foundation of what I predict will be a fantastic narrative dealing with sisterhood, family obligations, and choosing your own destiny. I am so looking forward to seeing more of the personalities of these sisters emerge and seeing where the story takes us while centering on characters we don’t often see in comics.
The Tiger’s Tongue #1 will be available wherever comics are sold on July 06, 2022.
The Tiger’s Tongue #1
This first issue of The Tiger’s Tongue includes stunning art that helps flesh out a world I want to get lost in. I love the foundation of what I predict will be a fantastic narrative dealing with sisterhood, family obligations, and choosing your own destiny.