So it has been a slow few weeks for books for me along with some other issues that have cropped up in my usual reading schedule, so it was slim pickings to choose from for this review. Luckily for me, my girlfriend tends to buy graphic novels for herself that I haven’t read but want to. This week I am taking advantage of that fact and reviewing Image Comics graphic novel Shutter Volume 1, Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge with art by Leila del Duca.
This book was pretty freaking awesome. I was really impressed with the art and the story. There are some issues with the story, though. The story follows Kate Kristopher, a young woman from a family of explorers who traverse the universe and dimensions, chronicling their adventures. We first see Kate when she is seven, on the Moon, with her father. The story jumps 20 years into the future and explores her ideas of the past and her family. Throughout the book we are introduced to her friends in the present and her friends of old as well and a whole menagerie of colorful humanoid animals, ghosts and robots who pose obstacles on Kate’s path to find the truth about her father and her family.
This is where the book gets weird. The first few pages make it seem like Kate lives in our world, but her family, through some unknown means, can move through the multiverse and explore distant planets. They never do mention how or why her family explores these distant spaces, but there is enough going on in Kate’s present that we don’t really need to understand her past too much yet. After the time jump, though, it is very apparent that her Earth is far different than ours; on this Earth it is commonplace to ride the subway with lizard beings, minotaurs, and other creatures, see ghosts or spirits or get worked over by a mafia-style gang of lions—which, don’t get me wrong, is entertaining as all hell but was very much not what I was expecting.
There are holes in the story that are waiting to be filled, like how and why the Kristophers appear to be magic, if the world was like this in the past, or if their dimension-hopping trips have done something to alter reality. The world is also confusing at times, at least to me, because of the relationships between the animal-people and the humans, and the beings who interact with Kate. There are a lot of relationships that are clearly defined, or are but then are radically changed for reasons that remain unknown. Also who the hell names their kid Chris Kristopher? Kate’s father must have been mocked mercilessly as a kid.
There was a lot of good in this book as well; there are fantastic characters that are well written and make you care about what happens to them. The story is classic and brand new at the same time and makes me crave more. The art is beautiful and perfectly fits the world it represents. I love how the characters are drawn, and the backgrounds are gorgeous. Through the writing and art it feels like a well fleshed out world, just one in need of a few touch-ups.
This book gets a 4 out of 5, it’s expertly written and has hooked me. I will definitely be buying my own copy as well as picking up future volumes.