Gods, Grief, and Family in “Cloudia & Rex”

A decade ago, you’d have a hard time finding Black girls in a fantasy comic book. Now, comics like Princeless and Niobe: She Is Life are filling that void and showing that Black girls can be magical. Lion Forge Comics’ newest mini series Cloudia & Rex adds more magic to the mix through a compelling family adventure starring three Afro-Latinx female characters. The completed miniseries was recently collected in a digital and physical trade book.

“Cloudia & Rex, Volume #1” mock-up. Written by Ulises Fariñas and Erick Freitas, drawn by Daniel Irizarri. Published by Lion Forge Comics (2017).

 

After the unexpected death of their father, 12 year old Cloudia, her little sister Rex, and their mother go on a road trip that is dramatically interrupted by Thanatos and Hypnos, the twin gods of death and sleep. When their car is hit by a blinding light, Cloudia gains the strength of a hundred gods, Rex gains the power to shapeshift into various animals, ­and the family finds themselves irrevocably embroiled in the gods’ affairs.

Within the first few pages, the vivid artwork becomes one of the comic’s best assets. Artist Daniel Izzari did a fabulous job with the colors, choosing palettes that enhance the emotion and impact of certain characters or scenes. In one gorgeous example, blazing oranges and yellows suit the intensity of angel-like beings called The Seraphim as they attack the gods.

Besides the artwork, the characters are wonderfully written by writers Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas. Cloudia, Rex, and their mother are relatable, sympathetic characters each dealing with grief in their own way. Cloudia is the angry preteen who rebels against her mother’s authority and bargains away her grief. Rex is a quirky girl that serves as her mother’s rock and is the closest to moving forward after her father’s death. Meanwhile, the stress of being a widowed single mother displays itself through the mother’s sternness with Cloudia & her protectiveness of both her daughters.

In addition to the human characters, the gods are surprisingly complex secondary characters. Despite the impeding danger of being absorbed into a single all-consuming entity, the twin gods of death and sleep manage to have witty dialogue that shows their fascination with humans. Another god, Zurvan, is god of time and memories. While he is as solemn and powerful as you might expect, his power is displayed in a wonderful twist that gives humanity & agency to one of the female characters.

“Cloudia & Rex, Issue #1” cover. Written by Ulises Fariñas and Erick Freitas, drawn by Daniel Irizarri. Published by Lion Forge Comics (2017).

Tying all of these elements together is an emotionally moving story of grief and family. The storyline literally gives Cloudia, Rex, and their mother power to grieve and ultimately make peace with the death of a beloved father and husband. Those who have experienced the pain of losing a loved one will find comfort in these pages.

The only flaw of Cloudia & Rex is that it can feel a bit rushed, especially since the complete collected mini series is less than a hundred pages. The physical journey that the lead characters undertake feels like a hop and a skip compared to the emotional one. Thankfully, the climax of the comic manages to slow things down to fully explore the family’s grief before the ultimate, stunning finale.

Overall, Cloudia & Rex is a powerful mini series that uses fantasy to deal with tragedy in everyday life. Although the comic was brief, it made a lasting impression. With gorgeous art, relatable female leads, and impressive use of mythology, Cloudia & Rex is a memorable fantasy comic book series.


Latonya Pennington is a pop culture freelance writer from the southern United States. They have written for Comic Book Resources, The Mary Sue, Black Girl Nerds, and more.

Ulises Farinas is a cartoonist and writer who meticulously blends genres, styles, and universes. Breaking down the walls between imagination and reality, he depicts super-saturated, hyper-detailed worlds where heroes and monsters are as fantastic as the landscapes they inhabit. Currently writing IDW’s Judge Dredd with Erick Freitas, drawn by Dan McDaid. Also with Erick Freitas, he is also the cowriter of Amazing Forest, available on Comixology and soon to be published by IDW. He is the artist and cowriter, of GAMMA, a one-shot comic previously serialized in Dark Horse Presents, and the writer of the pulp-throwback anthology Amazing Forest. He also has drawn Catalyst – Agents of Change, written by Joe Casey, Judge Dredd: City of Courts written by Douglas Wolk. He has done work for Marvel, Dark Horse, Vertigo, Image, BOOM! Studios, IDW, Wired Magazine, Complex, INC. Magazine, Zupi Magazine, the New York Times, Threadless Select, Faesthetic, and MunkyKing. His work has also been featured numerous times on Comics Alliance, Io9, Project Rooftop, The Daily What, The Comics Reporter, and SuperPunch.

Erick Freitas is a writer who has co-written several books with Ulises Farinas, including Judge Dredd, Amazing Forest, Motroand Godzilla in Hell

Daniel is a Puerto Rican artist best known for his work on Prophet and Americatown.

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