Imagine a world where the Aztec Empire wasn’t defeated by Spanish conquistadors in the early 16th century. What would Mesoamerica have looked like under Montezuma’s reign?
That’s the question comic book creators Henry Barajas, Rahmat M. Handoko and Bryan Valenza are asking in their new series Helm Graycastle. The series is set in the new nation of Aztec Mexica where Montezuma, the second Aztec emperor and fifth king of Tenochtitlan, rules until he is overthrown by a resistance.
According to Image Comics and Top Cow Productions, Helm Graycastle is described as a “Latinx fantasy series.” The story will include a Latinx role-playing game by Nuyorican/Black writer Tristan J. Tarwater and illustrated by Jen Vaughn.
Back when Barajas was raising money to get Helm Graycastle off the ground, he described it as “if Mordor had a Southside–and the Aztecs stopped the Spanish invasion with magic.”
Barajas’ debut comic in 2019 was La Voz De M.A.Y.O., which told the story of Ramon Jaurigue, an orphan, WWII veteran and civil rights leader, who co-founded the political organization Mexican, American, Yaqui, and Others (MAYO) to lobby for the improvement of living and working conditions for members of the Pascua Yaqui tribe.
“La Voz De M.A.Y.O. opened my eyes to how ignorant I am to my indigenous roots as a Mexican-American,” Barajas told The Hollywood Reporter. “Helm Greycastle is a love letter to J. R. R. Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons–and showing people of color that they can exist in this space, too.”
Helm Greycastle launches April 28 in digital format and in comic book stores.