Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 by Alex Alice

Paperback, 64 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by First Second
Source: Raincoast Books

I do not know much about European history but I dare say you do not need to when reading Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869. The first volume in what I believe is a series puts forward the question of space travel and what would happen if it was possible to travel in space earlier than history says it was.

To that end, the protagonist’s mother, a Claire Dulac, pilots a hot air balloon up into the heavens to search for a material called aether which can function as what we know as rocket fuel. Unfortunately things go wrong and she goes missing. Seraphin’s sure his mother is alive but his dad doesn’t hold much hope. Seraphin’s father is a highly sought engineer and a few years later, he is commanded to appear before someone should he want his wife’s diary and presumably last words. Seraphin’s dad is not at all inclined to follow the terse orders but Seraphin is adamant–what if this is a clue of his mother’s whereabouts?

At the train station, they are attacked by suspicious German-speaking people and in their efforts to get away from them, Seraphin and his father end up heeding the mysterious orders and find themselves at a king’s castle. The king is determined to make his way to the stars and he engages Seraphin’s dad’s services to make that into a possibility–aether has been discovered, you see.

The first volume describe’s Seraphin’s adventures as he helps his dad and makes new friends and uncovers a conspiracy that will lead to a rebellion and possible assassination. The art is beautiful and the story compelling. If you are into steampunk and history, you will enjoy this slim volume immensely. The book is more prose-heavy than other comics but I reckon the balance is just right. I have shared a few panels below to give you an idea of the art.

I quite enjoyed this volume and am looking forward to the next–it ends on an infernal cliffhanger…literally. Hah. Recommended.