This week on Off the Cape, I’m taking a look at the third volume of Kazu Kibuishi’s young adult series “Amulet” from Scholastic Books. This edition is called The Cloud Searchers, and has Emily and her crew pursuing a mythical city in hopes of retaking their fantastical world from its elven warlords.
After two straight exceptional entries, it would take a lot to impress. Did Kazu do so?
Find out after the jump.
I’m going to start with the completely obvious: Kazu Kibuishi is one of the most talented artists in the industry. In Amulet Vol. 3: The Cloud Searchers, Kibuishi turns splash pages into the artistic equivalent of what posterizing is in basketball (in basketball, that’s the art of dunking on players while embarrassing them at the same time). Granted, I’m biased, given that I can see two pages of original Kibiushi art in my home from where I sit, but his work is so gorgeously illustrated and densely detailed that each page is an incredible meal for the eyes.
These splash pages are rendered with so much detail that they exist in great juxtaposition with his character models, which are often quite simplistic. This works perfectly though, as every character has a unique identity but isn’t visually distracting and is free to exist within the beautiful and intricate world they inhabit. Kibuishi brings it on every page, but whenever he gives us a splash page it’s like he’s throwing down the gauntlet to every other artist out there and saying “your move.”
Kibuishi as a written storyteller does really nice work as well, even if the plot is a bit derivative overall. When in the back Kibuishi gives a shout out to Star Wars as an influence, it’s hard for readers not to say “well, we figured that one out already.” Even with that obvious influence, the execution works well and the characters feel unique. While I don’t think we had nearly enough Navin in this book, the budding mentorship of Emily from Leon Redbeard as well as the growing rivalry/uncertain friendship between her and Prince Trellis are incredibly well done. It’s an exciting and well told story from Kibuishi.
While this book is definitely created for children and/or young adults, it’s a remarkably well done book that earns a whole lot of respect because the sheer power behind the creative effort. Kibuishi is someone who deserves a lot more love than he gets from mainstream audiences, and it’s up to superhero fans to diverge and get a bit adventurous if they want a dose of straight up great storytelling. Recommended from yours truly.