THE HIGHEST HOUSE TP is an intriguing story that's perfectly paced and throws in a political subplot to stir the pot. The art and colors are absolutely stunning. Moth's transformation from a simple slave to a leader is a journey worth seeing to the last page.
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It’s not often we encounter medieval fantasy comics that explore slavery and child labor with great care. With THE HIGHEST HOUSE TP, writer Mike Carey, artist Peter Gross, and colorist Fabien Alquier explore one boy’s coming of age in the titular setting. The result is a mature series that features familiar fantasy tropes and magic, but focuses strongly on class. Suffice it to say, THE HIGHEST HOUSE TP goes down as one of IDW Publishing‘s best creator-owned comics of 2018.

Exploring Slavery and Politics

In this series, we follow Moth, a poor boy from the small town of Rethy. Out of desperation, Moth’s mother sells him into slavery to nobles. Moth’s captors, the Aldercrest family, live in an inaccessible fortress known as The Highest House. Soon, Moth is given a job as a rooftop repair servant and meets a mysterious voice, Obsidian, who offers to help him. Who is Obsidian? How does his fate intertwine with Moth’s? Read on to find out!

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

The series takes place over an unspecified number of years. In the process, we see Moth grow from an innocent boy to a confident young man. Along the way, Moth meets other characters such as the wizard Extat and Fless his task mistress to name a few. While it feels a bit overwhelming having so many characters, Moth very much remains the focus of story. Especially given his relationship with the aforementioned Obsidian who offers to help Moth. Over the course of six issues, Moth becomes a pivotal figure as he gains the favor of Demini, the Lord of Highest House.

From Boy to Young Man

THE HIGHEST HOUSE TP features some great character development throughout the story. Initially, we assume that Moth is a regular boy. However, we quickly learn that Moth possesses some out of the ordinary traits which Extat takes great interest in. Later we learn that Moth is a descendant of the Teth lineage, the people who bound Obsidian into a stone prison. These are just some of the many twists in THE HIGHEST HOUSE TP. It’s quite satisfying watching Moth gain a strong sense conviction such as in one instance where he saves a fellow slave from a harsh beating. In the end, Moth morphs into a politician who wants the slaves of Highest House to be free.

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

It’s also worth mentioning Obsidian’s role in the story. Namely, Obsidian serves as comic relief and an advisor to Moth. Throughout the story, he offers some hilarious quips which only annoy Moth. Initially, we think that Obsidian is an ancient evil with bad intentions for Moth. However, we learn that he is incredibly wise as he’s been imprisoned for thousands of years. In addition, Obsidian’s influence is only within Highest House. In the end, while Moth defies Obsidian’s orders for the most part, they become close friends. Thus Carey and Gross make this a believable relationship that’s well done.

Stunning Medieval Art and Colors

Artist Peter Gross couldn’t have been a better pick to bring the world to life. Notably, the titular Highest House is a beautiful, sprawling fortress with all kinds of areas. As the story progresses, we see creepy, dusty cellars; dangerous forests; and grand halls. All of this Gross renders with thick black lines that give a woodblock print quality to the characters and panels. All in all, Gross makes THE HIGHEST HOUSE TP feel like a believable world we want to explore.

Image courtesy of IDW Publishing

Lastly, Fabien Alquier brilliantly brings Gross’ art to life. Notably, every panel in THE HIGHEST HOUSE TP stands out as Alquier uses beautiful earthy colors to render pages. Alquier also uses splashes of bright colors such as green to guide readers’ eyes to the action. However, I quite enjoy the pages that Alquier renders in black, accented with bright colors. These pages are absolutely stunning as they reminded me of Greek art found on pottery.

Closing Comments on THE HIGHEST HOUSE TP

THE HIGHEST HOUSE TP is an excellent medieval fantasy that’s worth reading. Like other fantasy comics, there is political intrigue and magic in spades. But unlike most fantasy comics, the focus on slaves is surprisingly novel. Also, the Eastern European and Baroque influences feel fresh. Simply put, this is easily one of IDW Publishing’s best creator-owned comics series in 2018.

Request THE HIGHEST HOUSE TP from your local comic shop now or through Amazon when it releases on December 24th, or get it digitally through Comixology.

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