Artist: Kagan McLeod
Color Assist: Becka Kinzie
Editing: Thomas K
Production: Drew Gill
Kaptara is a wild card for Image Comics right now. Chip Zdarsky is a proven creator in the field of comics, but I’m not sure that anyone in the audience of the 2015 San Francisco Image Expo convention quite knew what the author was going to say. A book that he was writing to be set in space with an up-and-coming artist would have certainly ranked pretty low among anything the audience had in mind. Yet here we are at the first issue of Kaptara from Image.
What happens when a newspaper illustrator and a Sex Criminal go to space together?
The philosophy between two space travelers being a meathead a video game obsessed scientist is the perfect way to introduce readers to the fun of Kaptara. The irony nestled within this pages seems perfectly at home with Zdarsky and company, as with the other characters first introduced in the issue. The mission gets hectic pretty fast, and the language is laid down with thick discretion introducing readers about space. The protagonist Keith seems as if he sort of serves as the mouthpiece for the rest of the cast and the creators telling the story. His warm disposition and sarcastic attitude perfectly encapsulate the audience that will likely be engrossed in this story. Which is why it’s great that Keith is also the person that has the biggest problems with this tale via his interactions with other teammates. While he seems ready to see to the challenge, the unlikely hero is still flawed.
One of the best parts about this issue is how it almost immediately addresses some of the quiet moments between these people stuck on a space expedition. After all is said done, most of these quiet moments are present in the best instances of all your favorite sci-fi shows like Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek, it’s just a matter of making these characters interesting enough to land the quieter moments.
Still Kaptara is a genre tale. It’s not something incredibly concrete and immediately simple to the reader. In other words, it’s not just a bland run of the mill sci-fi military drama either. Speaking to that a little further, Kaptara almost immediately starts with fantastic pacing. By giving us a peek at the end of the story, stakes are being added to the quiet moments that happen later on. We’re already invested in these characters — making what happens at the end of this issue actually elicit some sort of genuine emotional response from the reader.
Speaking of craziness in artwork, that’s the catalyst that sturts to push this issue into crazytown. This comic embraces the weirdness of comics in general headfirst, descending full on into madness. This issue is a whopping 30+ pages, which is excellent for comics readers really looking to stretch their dollars as far as it can go for floppies. The comic also manages to shift up their supporting cast in ways that will affect subsequent installments. In fact, the Zdarsky humor starts to fade out towards bleak and dangerous subtext. Thankfully, the comic swerves back into the wonderful absurd brand of comedy that makes stories by this author great.
McLeod’s kinetic action-heavy cartoonist style with a bevvy of curved lines suit this title incredibly well. The artists’ work is described well as being ‘kinetic.’ The lines seamlessly flow off the page, and the monsters and characters are never staying still. In creator-owned titles, we’ve seen countless instances of not being able to tell characters apart because they are drawn too similarly. Thankfully, McLeod’s previous experience in the art world has allowed him to avoid the pesky instances denying clarity amongst a story. Wow…is all that should be said about the coloring in this story. McLeod and coloring assistant Becka Kinzie are going to amaze readers with the amount of sheer detail nestled into the coloring here. There is a lot of information being tossed at the reader very quickly in this first comic, but the first splash page really shows off something commendable in the not only the drawing by McLeod, but with the coloring as well.
For any comic book fan that has had enough of spandex clad gentlemen spending time in New York, I would like to propose something with a little space grit smeared all over it: Kaptara. This a book taking a familiar element of space travel that smothers in some dirty weirdness in the form of floating eyeballs, kings, princess, dance parties, skulls, lizards, space travel, and dreams. If you have a sickness Image Comics, Kagan McLeod, and Chip Zdarsky can you write you a prescription for a new drug called Kaptara.
Fruit snack aficionado. @AlexandComics