Somewhere around the corner, just beyond the edge of perception, lies a world you never dreamed existed: A world where creatures of ancient myth and gods long thought dead walk unnoticed along the crowded streets of Manhattan. Where ladies of Faerie dance the nights away. Where every shadow holds a secret, and every secret has a price.
Welcome to the World of Aria.

ARIA previewWritten by Brian Holguin / Art by Jay Anacleto / Colored by Brian Haberlin, Drew & Alex


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The story as of the first issue takes place in New York City, Greenwich Village to be exact (about the only predictable part of the story), where we meet the main character in the series, a 900 year old expatriate princess of Faerie named Kildare. She owns a collectible/book shop called "Otherworld" which is filled with children awaiting to hear a story on Halloween night (hmm, and this review takes place the day before Halloween...coincidence? I think not!). The tale she tells is an engrossing one, with just a hint of humor in places, as all good stories should have. It consists of Princes, mysterious women, and kingdoms of ivory and gold. To my dismay, when I finished her fable I found that this issue was over as well, and with that conclusion my addiction had begun! Holguin's writing has a very poetic feel to it, and his ability to linger on a specific moment and describe it to it's fullest is something I haven't seen in a comic since James Owen. And throughout the story (and the story in the story) Anacleto provides beautiful inkings that fit the words to perfection. I honestly believe this is a winning combination, and I can't wait to get the first comic of the actual series. Fantasy comic readers should not miss this series, and book readers should give it a try because I know you will be pleasantly surprised. Aria is that perfect blend of fact and fiction that can leave the reader wondering for just a split instant if the story is true. And in the words of Lady Kildare, "All stories are true. And this one more than most."
Review by Silmaris (

ARIAWritten by Brian Holguin / Art by Jay Anacleto / Colored by Brian Haberlin, Drew & Alex


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ARIA Blanc & Noir Written by Brian Holguin / Art by Jay Anacleto



Aria tells the tale of Lady Kildare, a faery princess living in modern-day New York. Accompanied by a rag-tag bunch of friends and relatives, Kildare enjoys the mortal realm and its many surprises, keeping her true identity and magic under wraps. But a shadow is coming, one that could destroy both Manhattan and Faerie, unless Kildare does something to stop it.

The characters of Aria are amazing: some of them, like Dion (Dionysus to you and me), are humorous. Others, like Mad Ginny, are by turns sad and wise. But every one of them is richly detailed and alive in these pages. Kildare of course gets the most "screen time," but the other characters in her world are well-rounded, too.

This edition provides a brief character glossary in the back, giving a few details and a picture of each major character from Kildare and Pug to Count Iblis and Ondine. There's also a very welcome collection of character sketches, providing images of the heroes and villains in various poses and situations--wonderful.

The plot is what you would expect of the new genre of urban faery tales, but more. As dark and gritty as New York can be, but also as illuminated, Aria walks the line between nightmare and dream. Kildare gives we mortal readers a new appreciation of the wonder contained in our world, not just the fantasy of hers. The surprises and details are both interesting and clever, without being too contrived or weird for its own sake. There are more dark moments than light, but Aria is nicely balanced and engrossing.

The photo-realistic art is heart-stopping. You'll find yourself gazing at every page for many minutes, just absorbing the lines and colors. The pages where Anacleto was trying to be beautiful, such as Kildare's party dress, are even more amazing, but what stunned me was the richness in the detail--the turn of a leaf, the smudges on the prison walls, the expressions on Mad Ginny's face...just astounding, rich and bold, by turns tragic or transcendent.

In short, if you are at all fond of art, buy this collection. If you enjoy fantasy or adult faery tales, buy this collection. If you like beautiful women, handsome men, the unembellished grace of Nature, Greek gods, or Celtic heroes, buy this collection. Basically, just buy this collection. Once you've seen it, you won't want to be without it, and once you've read it, you'll want to be within it.
Review by Dindrane (

ARIA interior art

how to light a sig

walk the street


Kildare in bed


whales and mermaids

Ginny goes mad

Limbo Walkabout

castle in Limboland

mad Ginny remembers

in the store

aria glitter

Brian Holguin is one of those rare comic book authors who could have a five-year-old doing his illustrations and you just wouldn't care because the story would suck you completely in regardless. Fortunately for us he doesn't have a toddler, he has the terminally gifted Jay Ancleto, and if that isn't enough to send you into the throes of ecstacy then I don't know what is.

Between the two of them they conjure up an utterly believable realm where fairies and ancient gods walk among us, as human as you or I but merely gifted with magicks and a conditional immortality. Lady Kildare is beautiful, chain-smoking, leather-loving, fairie with a take-no-prisoners attitude and a day job at a curiosity shop. Pug is her tattooed, incorrigible partner in crime who's as handy with a broadsword as he is with the dispatching of a case of beer. Her cousin Gwynnion is fragiley insane in a thoroughly endearing way and it is she who serves as the catalyst for the Second Coming of The Dark One. The three of them, plus some other eccentrically magickal characters you may or may not recognize, have to trek halfway around the world, through worlds mundane and magical to try and save both realms from imminent Armageddon.

Which is not to say this is just one long, drawn-out, bloody swords and sorcery story. Just the opposite. There are many quiet, character development moments infused with humor; especially funny are Gwynnions meanderings in and out of sanity (Or as close to sanity as she can get) and a scene where Kildare has to deal with one ignorant customer after another until all she can do is disparagingly declare 'Oh what fools these mortals be'.

The only thing that keeps this book from being a five star read is the disconcerting jump from Ancleto to a fill-in artist- who is still very good but works in a completely different style that gives you a jarring transition- for one of the four issues. Also, Ancleto's fully shaded, photo-realistic illustrations are so perfect as-is it would have been nice to see them without computer effects layered on top of them. I defy you to look at the untouched black and white covers and sample panels at the back of the book and think that they could be improved in any way with a bit of color.

Graphic novels are the DVDs of the comic world; as such the extras are what make or break the final prouduct and Aria simply teems with them. About a third of the book is nothing but bonus material, including a cover gallery that features all the issue's covers, even the alternate ones, with all the logos removed to let you appreciate 100% of the beauty. There's also a bonus prose story by Brian Holguin and lots of assorted sketches and pin-ups by Jay Ancleto.
Review by Maggie Z (

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