Graphic Novel Review: Seekers of the Aweto 1: The Hunt Is On by Nie Jun

Seekers of the Aweto 1: The Hunt Is On by Nie Jun. English language translation by Edward Gauvin. Graphic Universe, 2021. 9781728420219. 136pp.

Chinese cartoonist Jun’s previous book in English, My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder, was a charming graphic novel with a little magic set in a neighborhood. This one is mythical; it’s full of gods, magic, powers, and battles. June’s art is again wonderful, particularly the colors that bring everything to life.

Xinyue commands insects with his drum to help his elder brother Qiliu and their mother hunt aweto. It’s something that looks like a plant at some moments, a worm at others, and which grows in the heads of earth deities. It’s used to cure health conditions. There’s also a super rare type, celestial aweto, which grants eternal life, and which Qiliu is obsessed with finding.

The brothers seek aweto in the lands of the matriarchal Sanmo tribe and a full-scale battle takes place: exploding arrows, beheadings, sword fighting. It’s a bit cartoony but fairly violent. The Sanmo tribe need to protect their earth deity from the brothers to ensure the prosperity of their lands, but they fail. SPOILER: By the end a large earth deity is dead, the brothers are trying to sell the aweto they’ve gathered, and Xinyu is hiding a baby earth deity he found. The latter doesn’t last — when Quiliu discovers what his younger brother is up to, it sets up a bloody conflict between the two (and the next book in the series).


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