Monsters, mythology, a creation story, action, treachery - Moro Rogers' City in the Desert: The Monster Problem has it all.
The gist is that the world is riddled with monsters, but the brave and enterprising can pay their bills by hunting the creatures and selling them for their scales and various parts. Irro and his assistant Hari prowl the desert outside their city's walls looking for monsters to take down and bring back to merchants. You can tell they've been following that path a while; they're comfortable together and have the easy back and forth teasing and conversation of people who've spent time together and risked their lives together.
Their routine is jarred when a stranger comes into town claiming he can solve the monster problem by doing one simple thing. Just like any sales pitch that sounds too good to be true, it is. His actions make the residents of the city act bizarre - except for a select few. Irro's exempt and it seems like Hari might be. It's up to them save the day.
Rogers has a background as a storyboard and concept artist, and City in the Desert is her first graphic novel. I wouldn't have guessed it - she doesn't stumble at all. The story flows along in such a way that you just want to get to the next page but at the same time, you don't want to rush it. Though the art follows a manga style and seems to minimize lines, there's plenty to absorb in each panel.
Though I enjoyed getting to know Irro and Hari (they are fun to watch), my favorite part is the creation myth prologue. It reminds me of a Native American story and effectively sucks you into this different, fascinating world. And it's a small thing, but it fits that the art would change from black and white to the desert hues once Irro and Hari's story begins.
Overall, it's an engaging adventure that you can get wrapped up in because of Rogers' impressive world-building skills. My only real disappointment with the book is that it ends. I missed that it was the first volume in a series and almost released a Vader "Noooooooo" when I reached the last page.
Get Archaia's City in the Desert at your local comic book shop or order it online!