Writer: Alex Paknadel Art: Diego Galindo Publisher: Lion Forge
WHAT IS IT?
It's a British superhero story that's part of the greater Lion Forge superhero universe, "Catalyst Prime."
This latest run by these creators, however, is less your typical explosions-and-superpowers and more political intrigue, espionage, and deep dives into characters & ethics.
It reminded me of a grown-up Captain Britain comic or a darker Captain Marvel.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
(Spoilers for previous issues, small ones for this issue)
Alistair Meath is a Major in the RAF and, as such, continues to be a chess piece in the villainous Prime Minister Spode's game. And, without a serious reason to leave the RAF or question Spode, he'll continue to do as he's told, albeit begrudgingly at times.
But the cracks have begun to show. Spode and his people try to do damage control however they can in an attempt to throw Meath off their scent, but there's a sense of an inevitable, eventual showdown looming there in the distance. Eventually, Meath will understand the truth about Spode, and he'll need to make a choice.
But Spode isn't Meath's only problem. A strange, superpowered group has begun to appear, and they seem to have a cult following. And these believers may be closer to Alistair than he'd ever think...
In traditional fashion, this issue has been titled after an RAF squadron motto: "Rerum cognoscere causas." Translated, that means "To know the causes of things." And boy, is that something Alistair Meath surely needs to do right now.
Diego Galindo draws "Aidan Myers" to look almost like a mirror image of Alistair Meath. But the way Valentina Pinto colors "Myers," now freshly shorn and sporting a burn on his face, he looks as if the colors have been drained from him. It's such an effective way of showing how Myers is like a lesser version of Meath.
The background colors in this scene mentioned above keep changing. It reminds me of how Jordie Bellaire washed scenes with bold colors in Injection to show the lighting effects a TV can have on a dark room.
Galindo's pacing is top-notch this issue, using the same or similar panels or panel elements multiple times in a row to slow a scene down, show an inner dialogue without using words, and make panels a little less cramped with dialogue.
Honestly, Diego Galindo's art in general this issue was really impressive. The moment Alistair sees his reflection in a framed photograph of Myers was particularly hard-hitting, and the spectacular superhero fight is finely detailed with a dramatic flair.
And yes! There is a superhero fight! We see superpowered beings who aren't Meath for the first time (kind of) in this creative team's run. Thing is, this isn't the X-Men. You don't need a superpowered fight every issue. In fact, when it does happen, it carries more weight because it isn't seen as table stakes for a superhero comic. KINO has so much more to offer than the spectacle of battle. However, when it does happen, it's a real treat.
We get a lot of fun sound effects from Jim Campbell in the big metahuman fight, and Campbell's work throughout the issue does well to avoid confusion showing multiple speakers (especially off-panel) and show when the tone of dialogue changes.
While Alex Paknadel can write the hell out of some big picture plots, he's also great at banter and devastating one-liners. There's one great line about the future that will make you stop reading and say, "DAMN."
In a similar vein, it's kind of funny or interesting Meath comments on his own costume to talk about acceptance. Like, no one has mentioned how it’s kind of strange he’s a government asset and wearing that instead of, I don't know, camouflage or some kind of military uniform. And there're implications there! Maybe Spode wanted him in something flashy because Meath is meant to draw as much attention as he can, to show the country's (read: Spode's) strength. (The podcast comment following the costume line was funny too.)
Every single issue finds a new and powerful reason why you should hate the villains. That's all I'll say without spoiling things.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
I don't know why, since this is a superhero comic, but the beat at the end felt like an act too far removed from Spode's typical machinations. Not like he wouldn't do it – the guy would grind up his constituents and compress them into diamonds if he could. I think I personally just like it more when his evil plotting falls within the realm of what our real world politicians could/are actually doing today, or something they'd be able to do. (If that makes sense?)
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
KINO tells a grownup superhero story filled with nuance and complications. Our protagonist struggles to balance between being a superhero and the familial responsibility of being a parent and a husband. It also finds tension between the concepts of duty and ethics when those two things are at odds with one another.
There are battles, too. But you don't feel like you're wading through boring plot developments to get to the next big fight. There's so much political intrigue, commentary on current affairs, and drama in Meath's life, you can't help but sit, enrapt, watching it unfold.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
KINO, Vol. 3 by Alex Paknadel & Diego Galindo
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
Valentina Pinto – Colorist
Outlander: Lives in Rome
Multitalented: Also does illustration work
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
Seems to be in a relationship with talented ex-X-Men writer, Dennis Hopeless
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