What happens when your alien visitor and potential savior decided to go “off script?” Kaptara continues its skewed take on a familiar story structure, as Keith refuses to follow his role in this new barbarian world. So of course when he *does* try to join the narrative, something *else* goes horribly wrong.
The comic continues its irreverent mashup of modern and classic sensibilities. There is a style to the art that is both retro, reminiscent of some 70s style caricature, and modern, with vibrant color palettes and layered shadows and textures. There are common sci-fi/fantasy tropes such as annoying droids and strange animal mounts, but we have a gay male lead and a mentally stunted prince. It all results in a truly “alien” world, one that gives the reader an unfamiliar landscape and a feeling that truly anything can happen in this different world.
The focus on our main character Keith brings for some strong individual voice to his dialogue as well as some poignant character moments. He seems unnaturally calm about his new surroundings, but there are more than a few cracks in this exterior that show how complex he really feels about the situation. The supporting cast gets their fair share, and there’s a combination of dialogue with judicious use of silence/space that presents some strong and unique personalities. There’s no need for elaborate exposition as the readers sense the complexity of the relationships between the Queen and Manton.
So when you combine all of this together, you have this strange mishmash of style, character, and tone, retro and modern, that is presented completely earnestly that nevertheless results in humor. The unexpected things that happen in this alien world, the grotesque creatures and their integration into vehicles and even castles, and Keith’s attitude that’s both flappable and fragile— it’s all completely entertaining. It’s not a one-liner or stand up style jokey comicbook, but you end up reading the book with this strange smile askew your face… until you are shocked again but another sudden, and even violent, shift.
It’s a “funny” thing that defies our expectation— the villain Skullthor is apparently already invading Earth, but whereas in most stories this would be the main event, this time it’s just a plot MacGuffin that allows the *real* story, about Keith and Mantor’s responsibilities to their worlds, that’s getting played out.
Kaptara can be a confusing comicbook to pin down, since it takes its cue from many different sources. The result is a head-trippy mash-up of expectations that constantly surprises and intrigues. It’s a visual trip as well, with eye-popping palettes and fantastically distorted caricatures and creatures. Can something be completely earnest while being a send-up of the very stories it's presenting? Sure it can! And it makes for a damn entertaining read, too.