Bronco Ink Publishing dishes up the first volume of the Kickstarter-funded reprint of Krantz, a comic by Argentine creators Horacio Lalia and Jorge Claudio Morhain, originally serialized in the magazine Revista Skorpio, telling the story of a stranger in an almost-as-strange land—sixteenth-century Europe. Our eponymous hero is a visitor from the twenty-eighth century, a man who has traveled back in time to alter a chain of events that will ultimately lead to the First World War and the rise of Adolf Hitler. Presented here for the first time in English, Krantz is an entertaining and original, if quite odd, adventure comic.
The time traveler Ross Krantz is an albino, but in a black-and-white book like this, that doesn’t mean much for us visually. It means a lot, however, for those he encounters, who promptly identify him as an associate of Beelzebub. No sooner has he arrived through a portal, conveniently located in a swamp, than Krantz crosses paths with recent medical school graduate Miguel de Notre Dame. Not by coincidence, Krantz has made his appearance on the eve of the infamous (and, as far as I can tell, fictional) Night of Saint Esteban, which saw the slaughter of hundreds of Huguenots, French Calvinists persecuted by the Catholic clergy.
After performing a “mystical” procedure that puts Pierre Delancre, the would-be instigator of the massacre, into a two-day coma, Krantz takes off, bound for the portal that brought him. Miguel and his wife are in hot pursuit, however, and as things turn out, Krantz arrives at the portal too late; it closes in on itself, and, in Krantz’s simple declaration, “The cycle will return in twenty years. In the meantime, I’ll live with you.” With that, the “mysterious stranger” aspect of the story takes firm hold, and Miguel de Notre Dame is christened by the time traveler with a new moniker: Nostradamus.
It’s all rather pat, and more than a little suspension of disbelief is required to get past the characters’ sometimes slippery motivations. Where the superstitious clergy attempt to kill the “demon” Ross Krantz, the scientific-minded doctor Miguel de Notre Dame takes him in with nary a second thought. It’s moments like this when Krantz demonstrates a strange awkwardness. The book’s concept is solid, but the scripting occasionally leaves an even pace and convincing characterizations to be desired. It’s hard to tell, though, if this might be a result of the translation, as nuances like this have been known to get lost somewhere in the language gap.
As a whole, Krantz has a handmade, very much indie quality. There are a few points where its status as a translated work shows through, and consequently where the air of verisimilitude wears thin. Nonetheless, solid art and an intriguing premise make it well worth a look if you’re a fan of fantasy, adventure, and not-quite science fiction.