Keith finds a lost crewmate, but it’s the Prince’s forgotten memories of a drunken night gone wrong that will prove to complicate things.
As the world of Kaptara continues, it will be a bit difficult for me to review things without repeating the praises (and, maybe, the quibbles) that I’ve already mentioned in my previous reviews. This issue brings us yet another imaginative, and funny, location to explore, and that’s both meant visually and narratively.
There are a couple of things that distinguish this issue, though. The first is by having Keith succeed in a part of his personal quest in finding a member of the crew that’s been scattered across the land. It allows for a moment of serious reflection and some significant pathos from Keith, which is a rare emotion on his part and thus doesn’t feature too much in his narrative. A couple of quiet panels allow the reader to pause in the significant and expressive moment. More of that kind of stuff might be kind of nice, to continue to round out Keith and offer a bit of sympathy for him, and also to keep motivating him. That motivation, or more accurately the lack of it, seemed to have been a major factor of his character, so to have some things chip away at his apathy and self-indulgence should be pretty significant.
The featured character of this issue, though, really is Prince Dartor. From his inciting action of picking flowers (yes, it’s true) to an extended flashback to a night of barbarian revelry, Dartor is the character in focus.
In contrast to Keith, who’s becoming much more real and rounded, Dartor remains one-dimensional and a caricature. That’s not to be a negative criticism, per se, as it’s what allows for much of the humor in the book. It gives us a lot of verbal humor and one-liners, such as a giving a toast that I wouldn’t mind stealing: “Let us lacquer our livers together and speak of things peasants would murder us for!” and of course the situational comedy of a bar room where alcohol creates more problems.
The flashback is a framed story from the perspective of one of the new creatures the Kaptara Crew encounters, but perhaps I wasn’t reading as closely as I should and I missed it. There’s enough visual cues that it should be more clear— the repeated panel of the onlooker, the fact Dartor’s hair is shorter (which just confused me until I realized it was a flashback and re-read the sequence.) I think I am used to the old-school comics way, which would have included some narrative caption to tell us “Previously” or something, or the relatively new comics convention of significantly changing the color palette to signify the shift.
Another quibble that got in the way of my reading was the over-reliance on the bug-people’s speech patterns of adding “ZZZZ” after an initial B. It’s clever, but after a while, it’s a bit much, not to mention there’s already another character in a subplot with a “ssss” speech pattern.
Once again, Kaptara rounds out its crazy and imaginative world with even more craziness and imagination. There’s a quietly significant moment for our main character, while one of the supporting cast gets featured more extensively. It’s essentially played for laughs, and while it doesn’t break the tropes of sci-fantasy like previous issues, it certainly bumps up against them and playfully teases. The art likewise continues to be a perfect match for such sensibilities, especially when the caricatured 70s’ barbarian Dartor drives our issue.