Writer: Alex Paknadel Art: Diego Galindo Publisher: Lion Forge
This review only covers issue 14, the final issue in the story arc for this 3rd volume. For reviews of previous issues in this arc, which started with a soft reboot and a whole new creative team, click here.
WHAT IS IT?
It's a British superhero story that's part of the greater superhero universe Lion Forge set up recently, called "Catalyst Prime." These specific issues, however, are less explosions-and-superpowers and more political intrigue, deep dives into characters and their mental states, and setting up for the next big story arc both within this title and in Catalyst Prime's universe.
It reminded me of a grown-up Captain Britain comic or a darker Captain Marvel.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
(Light Spoilers for Issues 10-13)
There are two Major Alistair Meaths, one with memory loss and another with PTSD. While they both think they're the real Meath, the latter of the two is currently being used by the modernly evil Mister Spode, a politician whose hunger for power knows no limits. Spode narrates the strange virtual reality journey he’s sent the "Meath" with PTSD on. While he thinks he's fighting his evil doppelgänger in an old school comic book world, he's actually wreaking havoc and destruction throughout the city while Spode whispers poison into his ear. Spode draws parallels between Odysseus’s return home and this man who thinks he's Meath’s own return. His comparison implies this man who thinks he is Alistair is a king who is unrecognized by his own people. The concept of entitlement and mistreatment after return from a harrowing journey serves only to madden this pseudo-Meath all the more.
The two Meaths must resolve their differences and break Spode's hold in the traditional superhero comic way: with a big ol' brawl. But it's what comes next that's so untraditional for a superhero comic. Of course, you're going to have to read it to find out what that is...
Paknadel changed the theme from previous issue titles to RAF squadron mottos that also give each issue its theme, which is a really effective touch
Issue #10: "After Me, The Flood"
While I know this one primarily through Regina Spektor, I had to look up its historical context
In relation to the issue, it could have one or more meanings. The first, that the country may devolve into chaos with him gone. The second, that Meath may expect the aforementioned chaos, but that he doesn't care. That he's got his own issues to worry about. Both seem appropriate for the events in the story!
Issue #11: "Per Noctem Volamus" ("We Fly Through the Night")
This is tied in more overtly and literally at the end of the issue, but to me, it could also mean that Major Meath is able to deal with the stresses laid upon him, like the squadron of bombers who align with this motto, staying awake as they carry out their mission in the dead of night.
Issue #13: "Operta Aperta" ("Hidden Things Are Revealed")
Definitely true to its promise in this issue!
Issue #14: "Esse Potius Quam Videri" ("To Be, Rather Than To Seem")
Not only does this absolutely refer to the reality-vs.-virtual-reality and the double-Meath situation, we can also look at characters and their actions
Is Mister Spode a good, concerned person, or merely acting that way? (The latter, obvi.)
Conversely, is Alistair Meath truly concerned for Myers's wellbeing? (Probably, yes.)
Are certain government agents telling the truth when they tell Meath about Myers? (Read to find out!)
Without diving too deeply into Alex Paknadel's Odyssey parallels (see below for an example), they work on so many levels, and it's a really smart way to narrate the opening sequence
The Aidan Myers character was heartbreaking and thoughtful and very Paknadel
He represents our mistreatment of the homeless and what happens to people after their lives are ruined by superheroes’ innate destructiveness
He brings back this concept of "respair" (the return of hope after a period of despair) and what it means to him, along with its backstory, and it's beautiful and devastating how its meaning has changed from earlier to the events after this arc
His epilogue was strong and sad and is such a great example of how Catalyst Prime differs from the superhero stories of the Big 2
Aidan Myers has the same initials as Alistair Meath
The old-school KINO world from the previous issue reappears and the illustration, color & lettering styles all shift to show the difference
Seeing the slight changes in Spode's office from reality to virtual reality was a cool effect
The splash page showing how both worlds clash was such an epic climax to the arc and a culmination of the entire team's efforts
We can all agree Mister Spode is the worst
Spode calling Meath’s wife Penelope instead of Patricia, even after being corrected is so petty, especially since the real Meath doesn’t even get the reference
He immediately follows that with casual sexism
(SPOILER) His rise to power begs the question of what happens when superheroes are beholden to a corrupt government
(SPOILER) Also, in case you didn't look it up, here's the definition of "Reichstag fire," from Wikipedia:
The term "Reichstag fire" has come to refer to false flag actions facilitated by an authority to promote their own interests through popular approval of retribution or retraction of civil rights.
Frazer Irving's covers look like they're crafted from stardust
Looking back at the covers from previous issues after finishing the arc, Irving has been hinting at the arc's events all along
Diego Galindo's photorealistic art and Guzowski's reserved color palette are the perfect delivery mechanisms for the more mature themes and issues throughout the story
Galindo's an expert at transitions, often uniting venues and themes through action from one panel to the next
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
As stated previously, you should read at least issues 10-13 before grabbing this one
Death and violence might mean the book isn't for all ages
A catch-up page with the above listed information (the way Marvel does currently) might be helpful for folks jumping on at this point
There are some context clues, but if every issue had to brief the reader on past happenings, it'd be impossible to move the plot forward
I've kind of forgotten who "A Assante" is after a few months and the events of this issue, which seemed to be an important point
I'm sure it's more top-of-mind if you pick up the trade
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This issue closes the third volume of KINO. It tells an untraditional superhero story unafraid of touching on real-life issues. KINO is nuanced and heartbreaking, and if you're looking for a new kind of superhero story, Catalyst Prime is where you should go.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
KINO, Vol. 1 by Joe Casey & Jefte Palo
Arcadia by Alex Paknadel & Eric Scott Pfeiffer
Captain Britain and MI: 13, Vol. 1 by Paul Cornell & Leonard Kirk
If you like the art:
Coven by Zach Calig & Diego Galindo
Invincible, Vol. 3 by Robert Kirkman & Ryan Ottley
Moon Knight, Vol. 1 by Max Bemis & Jacen Burrows
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Alex Paknadel – Writer
His apprehension toward trusting corporations and the tech industry also inspired his writing on Arcadia & Friendo™
Dream Team: Is part of White Noise Studio with other upcoming, extremely talented writers: Ryan O'Sullivan, Ram V & Dan Watters
Has a PhD in English literature
Diego Galindo – Illustrator
Most of his experience is doing cover art for comics
Just got brought on as an illustrator on the Aladdin comic later this year
Adam Guzowski – Colorist
Loves space, swimming and '90s rock
Multitalented: Also does illustration work
Trained at the Kubert School
Jim Campbell – Letterer
Outlander: Hails from the United Kingdom
Multitalented: Also enjoys the art side of the creative world
Seems to be a favorite letterer for teams based in the U.K.
Jasmine Amiri – Editor
Worked as an editor at BOOM! Studios before moving to Lion Forge Comics
Dream Team: Also worked with Paknadel on Arcadia
Rumor: Seems to be in a relationship with talented ex-X-Men writer, Dennis Hopeless
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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