Graphic Novel Review: “Fallen Empires” (“Cleopatra in Space” #5) by Mike Maihack

You have to love a series whose entire premise is laid out in its title: This graphic novel series follows the adventures of a teenage Cleopatra (“Cleo”) who has traveled through time and is now involved in an intergalactic conflict with Xaius Octavian – once Cleo’s best friend and now her arch nemesis.

I’m late to the Cleopatra in Space bandwagon – the series only came onto my radar when my 12-year-old sister began raving about it. I’m happy to report that she’s not wrong and that there’s no bad time to hop on the Cleopatra in Space train. I was a little anxious about starting a series at the fifth book, but creator Mike Maihack has constructed a narrative that’s easy to join in media res. It probably helps that Fallen Empires opens with Octavian’s backstory, which provides an easy access point to what Cleo’s been up to for the past four books.

Once Maihack reveals the events that led to Cleo’s friend Gozi transforming into ultra-bad guy Octavian, we catch up with Cleo, along with pals Akila and Brian, at Yasiro Academy, where the cadets are preparing to celebrate the launch of a new planetary shield system. But even though the system is supposed to protect the planet from threats like Octavian for good, Cleo suspects that someone is trying to sabotage the launch. After one of the Pharaoh’s councilors ends up dead, Cleo is blamed – in addition to discovering the true murderer, Cleo and Akila also have to flee from the authorities if they want to prevent the new shield’s sabotage.

I got strong She-Ra and the Princesses of Power vibes from Cleopatra in Space, so it’s a great series to turn to if you binge-watched that series’ first season like I did. This is a fast-paced, action-packed offering that has convinced me to read the whole series – but I suggest you take a more direct route and start with the first installment!

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Scholastic, for review.