The hunt for the Princess becomes more complicated when Kaya realizes she is a staunch member of the rebels and has no intention of returning home. Is there any way they can persuade her to help them? Find out in Kaya #15 from Image Comics!
Writer: Wes Craig
Artist: Wes Craig
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: AW’s Tom Napolitano
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 7, 2024
Previously in Kaya: A pirate has seen Kaya and Jin and decides to try to get a message to Atria, the robot kingdom, about them. Meanwhile, Kaya and Jin search for a missing princess who is thought to be in a city where the king was recently deposed, and a new king put on the throne with Atrian support. But when the Atrians demand the secret within the local temple, a rebellion starts. The new King goes on a procession through town and his guards roughly push the locals, even the ones who favor him, out of the way. Kaya spots movement on a nearby rooftop – the rebels! They throw a bomb at the procession and scatter. Kaya chases one, and when she catches up with a small group of them, she finds the missing princess!
THE TEMPLE’S SECRET
As Kaya #15 opens, Sister Rea from the temple examines Jin, then asks how the mission went. The Princess and her companions are excited about their bomb, but Sister Rea shudders. She does not like the violence they are forced to use. She makes the decision to allow Kaya and Jin into the temple, but they must be blindfolded. On the way, they learn the story of the holy waters the temple protects, and how the Atrians want to bottle it and sell it. It is quite the metaphor for any once-shared resource that becomes a commodity hoarded by the wealthy.
They arrive at the temple. Rea recalls how she was healed here, and how, as a Sister, she wants to be able to continue to heal others. Whose side is Kaya on in this conflict? Kaya insists she is only there for the Princess. One of her companions insists that Jin is the Golden One. This does not matter to Rea. She brought the two of them here because they are children. They can spend the night; then they will safely be led out again.
The Princess‘s friend Varia asks Jin if he is really the Golden One and asks about all the recent adventures he has had. In the stories they have heard, the Golden One is the hero. Kaya drags him away and goes looking for the Princess, who she finds planning with her fellow rebels.
The Princess, we rapidly learn, is quite cynical. Somem people think the good king will return and take back his throne. She is that king’s daughter and she knows this won’t happen. Others believe the Golden One will destroy the Robot Empire. She does not even believe that she could step up to rule because there are so many people who believe that the Atrians will make them all rich. People would rather live their lives and believe in stories than take action to make any changes in the world.
Kaya still wants to talk her into returning so she and Jin can continue their travels. As the Princess climbs up the temple walls, Kaya keeps pace with her. The Princess asks her if she would do anything for her brother, and of course Kaya would. The Princess counters that her present battle has the same importance to her. If Kaya will help in their fight by distracting the robots here in her city, she will make sure Kaya and Jin will get their passage.
Meanwhile, Jin listens to Varia as he tells his story. He remembers songs about the Golden One from before the Robots took over. But the Robots did come to his village and killed his father. They fled, but the Atrians came here too. Varia has lost a friend in the rebellion. His life is full of loss, and he wants to put his hope in the Golden One.
EXPECTATION AND REALITY
As the world in Kaya #15 opens up, the art brings it to life. The city of Shazir is populated by a wide variety of people and most of them are not human. The Princess, for example, is a deer person and her friend Varia looks like a fox person. All of them are expressive, and those expressions are clear for us to understand. And they are interesting. The Princess was born into a life of privilege but was raised in a convent and resents that choice her father made. She sees the injustices happening in the city, but like many rebels, does not have any ideas for what happens next. People are complicated. The irony of wiping out problems is that if you do not have a plan, you are likely to invite new problems to replace the old ones.
Entering the temple plays out exceptionally well as presented. Since Kaya and Jin are blindfolded, we get two pages of dark panels only showing the dialogue. Then we see a full-page panel revealing the holy waters, the sunlight pouring in through a high skylight, the lush giant vines clambering up the walls. It looks cool and tranquil, exactly the opposite of the city.
BOTTOM LINE: MAKING TRADE-OFFS
Kaya #15 introduces the characters to more difficult choices as their journey to safety is also a coming-of-age story. Jin especially must learn to deal with the unrealistic expectations he now realizes that people have for the Golden One.
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Life has become a series of tricky challenges and decisions for Kaya and Jin.