Materia, the fourth volume of Gunnerkrigg Court, continues the absorbing tale of Antimony Carver (known as Annie) and her fellow classmates at the strangest school since Hogwarts. Gunnerkrigg Court (often referred to only as the Court), is, like Hogwarts, a boarding school run on the British system. The school seems to be located in Great Britain, but it may not be quite the same as the Great Britain of our world. While it is an important setting for much of the series, it plays a much less central role in Annie's story than Hogwarts did in Harry Potter's. Among the many mysteries in Gunnerkrigg Court is the question of just what the Court actually is: As the main characters realize early on, it is far more than just a school.
Gunnerkrigg Court is a science fantasy comic. While it was initially published online and is available to read for free at the comic's website (which you can easily find with any search engine), it is formatted to fit on a standard A5 page, and looks great in print. If you enjoy the comic, it is well worth the purchase price to have it available in the well-made and handsome volumes published by Archaia.
The comic is aimed at young adult readers. but will appeal to many older readers as well, especially those who appreciate science fiction and fantasy. Gunnerkrigg Court recounts the adventures of Annie and her best friend Kat Donlan (and others) as they attend classes, live their lives, and investigate the mysteries of the Court. Annie and her friends also get involved in the political intrigues between the Court and Gillitie Wood which is a forest near the Court and the other major power in the world of Gunnerkrigg Court. The wood is inhabited by fantastic beings including Coyote, the trickster god. While Coyote is never given an explicit title beyond his name (he is always addressed as Coyote with a capital 'C'), he is treated as the leader of Gillitie Wood by the leaders of the Court.
The story features excellent writing and vivid characterizations with several strong female characters. It is genuinely funny and frightening, exciting and touching. It is a tale of friendship and hatred, beauty and ugliness, triumph and tragedy, technology and magic. The story is episodic, being made up of many self-contained chapters, but also tells an overarching story of the characters struggling to untangle the many mysteries surrounding them. The numerous characters are drawn from both science fiction (be prepared for a great many robots) and fantasy, including beings from mythologies from around the world. If you enjoy a good fantasy tale, you owe it to yourself to check out this series; you will be hard put to find a better one.