Comic of the Week: Canto #1 is offbeat, thought-provoking, heartrending, and more

Canto #1 is on sale now.

By d. emerson eddy — In the past few years, we as readers have become absolute gluttons for unique, personal stories told in comics that come at storytelling from oblique angles, presenting things that are offbeat, thought-provoking, and often heartrending. Stories that embrace the limitless possibilities of comics and tell something new. Canto is one of these stories, catching me off guard with its simplicity and beauty. It's a fable in the vein of Edward Scissorhands or 9, of potential constructs proving that they're more than the sum of their parts.

This first issue lays out a world that differentiates from its predecessors, though, as David M. Booher, Drew Zucker, Vittorio Astone, and Deron Bennett. The little clockwork knights are slaves to monstrous, goat demon-looking things, but there's a belief that their hearts have been replaced with clockwork mechanisms. Whether or not this is true (on its face it's presented as being so) remains to be seen, but it sets up a very interesting society where slaves are stripped of their humanity and their very names in order to be subservient. With finding love, caring for one another, and daring to have a name used as one of the driving narrative factors for disobedience and setting up the story's quest. It's a beautiful and, quite literally, heartfelt set-up.

Canto and the other knights feel deeply influenced by L. Frank Baum's Oz series both in the Tin Man, in regards to their quest to find their hearts, and Tik-Tok, the little clockwork character introduced in Ozma of Oz. The latter's appearance seems to have helped fuel the appearance of the clockwork knights here, though Zucker still makes them unique. It's very interesting how Zucker weaves the design of the characters into the story within the story aspect from Booher in regards to fairy tale of the knight and the princess, adding a nice depth to the potential lore of the series. Zucker's style overall reminds me a lot of Peter Gross and Ryan Kelly, perfectly suited for this kind of fantasy.

There's also an interesting grit to Astone's colors here, utilizing earth tones as a primary color palette. It gives the art a heft and a “dirtiness” that enhances the oppressive nature of the society that the clockwork knights find themselves in and allows for a contrast with the color and “sparkles” while Canto is speaking to his injured girlfriend. That also comes through in Bennett's lettering during these sequences as it becomes a white font against a red or blue edge halo, making it stand out against the regular narrative. It also gives it an increased fantasy feeling, similar to the overlain knight and princess story told.

Overall, this is a wonderful start from Booher, Zucker, Astone, and Bennett. It sets up a unique world and a personal quest growing out from familiar fantasy and adventure themes.

Canto #1
David M. Booher
Artist: Drew Zucker
Colorist: Vittorio Astone
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Publisher: IDW
Price: $3.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

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.