By d. emerson eddy — KINO began its life in the Catalyst Prime universe under Joe Casey, Jefte Palo, Todd Klein, and Chris Sotomayor. It was always something unique, a series ostensibly about Alistair Meath, one of the astronauts caught in space in the “Event” that sparked this rise of super-powered individuals within a new shared universe. It spent its time split between an espionage story of trying to find Meath's body and in a simulation patterned after old school comics superheroics that was trying to influence Meath's mind and outlook on life. It was very good, something different that played with comics conventions and told a nicely layered story. I highly recommend checking out those first two collections.
Then Alex Paknadel, Diego Galindo, Adam Guzowski, and Jim Campbell came along and turned the series on its ear with issue #10. Basically that issue gave us an “Anatomy Lesson”, guiding us through the implication that everything we knew was wrong, upending Meath's life, and pointing us in an entirely different direction.
Often times I find that this sort of thing doesn't work in the long term, since it tends to alienate the hardcore fans and generally once the initial shock has worn off, the change becomes somewhat boring. That hasn't even been remotely the case here, as the revelations and integration with what came before just get more interesting. It's more that this entire arc has been the true “Anatomy Lesson” and not just that first issue of the new creative team's run. Because Paknadel, Galindo, Guzowski, and Campbell have taken the elements of espionage, political oversight, not knowing what's reality and what's a simulation, and the simulation itself and continued to develop the situation of two Meaths to a very satisfying conclusion. While we were led to believe that everything was wrong to begin with, maybe it wasn't?
This final issue of the story arc is a fairly bombastic fight between the two Meaths, but one of the things that Paknadel has been weaving into the story from the beginning is manipulation. That still comes through in the explanation for what happened and the “true” Meath's victory and plans going forward, leaving a compelling thread to see where this goes in name of queen and country.
The artwork from Galindo and Guzowski is wonderful, stepping up to the task of presenting this final battle on two fronts; the normal ordinary London and one of brightly coloured vintage comics. Jim Campbell, too, deftly changes approach to lettering during these shifts to the superhero simulation, adding in thought balloons and a more visceral, scratchy approach to sound effects. I love the attention to detail that goes into the presentation of the old school comics style, immersing the reader in that world to great effect.
Overall, KINO has been a shining star for the Catalyst Prime line and Paknadel, Galindo, Guzowski, and Campbell continue to make it glow. It's a very unique take on the spy thriller by way of the superhero, revelling in the style and substance of vintage superhero comics, while telling a thoroughly modern interpretation, rife with suspicion, confusion, and shades of grey. Everything may not always be as it seems in this comic, but what is unquestionable is that this story is well worth your time.
Writer: Alex Paknadel
Artist: Diego Galindo
Colourist: Adam Guzowski
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Lion Forge / Catalyst Prime
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d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.