Comic Review: Kaptara Volume One

Mikee Riggs
3 min read
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Chip Zdarsky wants you to read comics. He makes readers aware of it time and time again with the many titles he has in the works. Between his work as an artist on Sex Criminals or his writing in Howard the Duck, Chip has made it clear that, for him, creating in this genre is fun, and it carries over to the reading experience.

Kaptara Zdarsky wants you to not only like comic books, but revel in just how marvelous and absurd they can be. At its core, Kaptara is a fantasy tale that makes “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” look like a dead serious take on fantasy storytelling. I bring up “He-Man” because Kaptara is a blatant love letter to the glory days of Eternia and the adventures of steroid-addicted Prince Adam and his fellow warriors. What’s great about Kaptara, though, is that the He-Man character in this story is not only a blowhard (this word choice makes sense once you’ve read the book), but only a foil to the main focus of the work—which is a dude named Keith.

Keith starts out as a normal Earthling in space until he’s tossed through a wormhole and crash lands on the planet Kaptara, where he quickly titles himself “Keith, Prince of the Dance Floor.” Once on Kaptara, Keith has a quick struggle with selfishness and cowardice and then proceeds to accept the call of adventure and the journey into the unknown land. The path Keith has been placed on takes him on a quest to find his missing crew. The book never takes itself seriously. Keith is constantly quipping, and the cast is by far the most ridiculous group of characters possible. A personal favorite of mine is Keith’s sidekick, a floating orb that projects inspirational statements on its face and is somehow the main voice of reason in the book. Zdarsky takes the Orko or Snarf character of the book and elevates him, illustrating that he’s well on the path to creative success. That success, of course, wouldn’t be possible without the art of Kagan McLeod. McLeod’s lines are sleek and clean, illustrating a total grasp on contemporary design. He manages to easily mix in the elements of the past that the story pays homage to while maintaining his own style. McLeod’s illustrations never feel forced or referential. The images of Kaptara build a beautiful visual to pair with Zdarsky’s writing, making the marriage of concept and execution consistent and engaging. If you’ve ever felt like you want to see grown men walk around in fur underwear and fight atop mutant pug tanks, then McLeod is the artist you’ve been waiting for.

Kaptara is a playful, good-natured parody of the childhood toys and stories that many of us grew up on, but still makes its own mark in a comic scene that sometimes loses sight of how great it can be to just have fun. Above all else Kaptara Volume One is just that: Fun. And lots of it.
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