This first volume of Canto is a book I have very mixed feelings about, which doesn't happen too often. It's one of those cases where, I love the idea of the character, the world, the lore, the mythology, all of that. That's super intriguing and fun to me.
The story itself, though, just didn't feel that compelling. As a setup for future volumes, it was fine, especially if you end up enjoying those subsequent volumes more (I haven't got Vol. 3 yet, but I did enjoy Vol. 2's story more than this so that was a good sign) but otherwise there didn't feel like there was a lot here beyond a generic fantasy "hero's journey" story.
I realise that, in some ways, that's part of the whole idea. Pretty much everyone has done a hero's journey story these days, it's a staple of our fiction, no matter how many twists and turns and wild situations it gets used for. In that sense, this would be a perfect first comic for anyone looking to dip their toe in, especially younger readers, or even just any readers looking to broaden their horizons beyond the big two.
Canto himself is an adorably lovable protagonist, very clearly in the vein of something like Jeff Smith's classic comic Bone, or more recently Twig by Skottie Young and Kyle Strahm (which I still need to read the final two issues of, it's been a great fun read so far, but I digress) and I just love his design, and of the clock people in general. It's simple but so effective, it's iconic, it feels unique and it has my attention whenever I see it.
That leads nicely into my final point, about the art. I hadn't heard of Drew Zucker before this (or the writer David Booher, for that matter, though I enjoyed the comic adaptation of Joe Hill's Rain he wrote, but again I digress) but I thought his art here was awesome, especially with the colors by Vittorio Astone and lettering by Deron Bennett. We're lucky when we get a consistent art and lettering team on a big two book, and for them to last the whole run to give it a notable identity. If you want that all the time, indies are where you need to be. The colors are always gorgeous and I enjoyed how the lettering was utilised outside of just speech, I won't spoil it but it was a nice emotional running thread through the story.
The art has a rough, gravely style almost, balanced so nicely out by the rich colors, to create this realistic feeling medieval fantasy aesthetic. The covers are great examples of this, but just generally in the book the style is bright, animated, vibrant, but still keeping within that somewhat setting. It feels perfect for all ages in that sense, in which it would hopefully be enjoyable to soak in for everyone, as the story goes on.
Given all that I've been wanting to read Canto for a while, and I'm glad I did. Personally, with a stronger story it had potential to be a favourite, but I still loved the way it ended and the ideas it presented in that. Though again I'm glad to say I did like the second volume more though (look out for a review for that coming soon), so I'm very excited to read the third volume and beyond, as the trades get released.
I will say though, just on the quality of the book itself, have the pages come out of anyone else's copies? Like, the first one I ordered, as I read it the pages literally came out. Got a replacement, same thing happened. Got a refund from that and used the money on someone selling the first two volumes for a deal, and it happened again! It made me nervous about reading Vol. 2 on that front, but luckily it doesn't seem to have the same problem. I can't find anyone else saying anything about this sort of thing online, so maybe I just got them from a weird batch? Like there wasn't enough glue used on the spine sticking the pages down or something, but Vol. 2 felt a lot sturdier in that regard.
Anyway, as always I can't appreciate you enough if you actually read all of this! Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know down below!
Have you read this? What did you think? Let me know over on Twitter at JoeLovesComics, where you can find (albeit shorter) thoughts on other comics I love.