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Karl Fields
The Accidental Warriors
Karl Fields, author
When a young boy's friends are captured and taken to a mystical world, he must overcome years of self-doubt to defeat the monster, save his friends and find his way back home in time for dinner.
Written by Fields, drawn by Velasquez, and colored by Wolf, this entertaining graphic novella quietly emphasizes themes of self-forgiveness and feeling comfortable in your skin. The story’s main protagonists—Jalen and Ram—function as polar opposites throughout: Jalen is boastful and a risk-taker, while Ram is more reserved and clearly portrayed as neurodivergent. When the two make their way to a martial arts class in Los Angeles, they are stunned to see their teacher’s daughter, Kai, being kidnapped by a monster. When the monster escapes with Kai through an interdimensional portal, Jalen and Ram follow him to a strange realm to save her.

The story’s beginning is rather abrupt, as Fields quickly delves into the fantasy aspects, a choice that at first makes the characters, who we’ve spent too little time with in the real world, feel a touch underbaked. However, once they arrive on the shores of this other dimension, the leads flower into distinct and convincing personalities, and Fields keeps readers on their toes with lightning-paced transitions and supercharged magic. In their quest to save Kai and go home, they encounter a riddling rabbit, a nightmarish middle school run by monsters, a friendly village of young magicians, and a greedy bird woman named Ava Rice. Fields brings the story to a sudden close as well, revealing loads of backstory right before the final battle, but despite the pacing issues, there’s a genuine sense of warmth in the friendships that Jalen makes along the way.

A flashback to Jalen's past reveals unresolved guilt, and a pep talk from a village elder motivates him to keep going, despite the odds stacked against him. Fields makes a point of having a diverse cast without treating them as tokens, especially in regards to Ram. Velasquez's expressive art communicates a great deal of nuance in relating unspoken feeling and essential information, and the open-ended conclusion points to potential and welcome future installments.

Takeaway: This YA fantasy boasts a diverse cast, classic quest storytelling, and appealing art.

Great for fans of: Jason Walz’s Last Pick: Rise Up; Tom King’s Heroes in Crisis.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A-
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A