On a world millions of miles away, strange creatures and heroic warriors meet a stranded scientist whose world is under attack. With this vintage sci-fi set up, Zdarsky and McLeod bust open the door for a story brimming with potential. Check out our spoiler-free review of “Kaptara” #1 below!
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Illustrated by Kagan McLeod
A space expedition goes horribly wrong because if it didn’t there would be no story! Reluctant explorer Keith Kanga and his crew crash land on KAPTARA, a world filled with danger and weird danger and dangerous weirdos! And if he can’t survive, then Earth, the place where YOU live, is doomed!
Join CHIP ZDARSKY (Sex Criminals the Duck) and KAGAN McLEOD (Infinite Kung Fu) as they put the “fi” back into “sci-fi” and pretty much disregard the “sci” part in this epic story of punching and love!
You’ve definitely heard this type of story before. Person is in space,space messes up, and person is now on weird alien planet. Alien planet loves him, makes him warrior-king, and gets a bunch of their own bang him for good measure. You’ve seen it in everything from “Planet Hulk” to John Carter. Okay, you didn’t see John Carter but you get my point.
In “Kaptara”, Zdarsky and McLeod tell this type of story, with a scientist named Keith who ends up on the titular planet of Kaptara. The first half of the comic strives to establish who Keith is: a young gay man who no one on the space expedition takes seriously since his aunt got him the job aboard the ship. He’s scrawny, compared to your typical Adam Strange types, and less confrontational. Well, not entirely. Keith is fed up with the snowstorm of shit he’s constantly on the tail end of, to an arguably immature degree. And once he arrives in Kaptara, a world full of devoted servants and motivational floating orbs, he doesn’t find much reason to head back to Earth.
If “Kaptara” is going to focus on any character as it moves forward, Keith seems to make for a fine choice. And not just because he’s one of the few survivors who got the most screen time and also lived. With few reasons to want to go back to humanity, he creates an interesting set up for the contrasting settings of oppressive Earth (represented here by claustrophobic offices and spaceships) and the vibrant world of Kaptara. Kagan McLeod slays it on art, mostly when it comes to depicting Kaptara as that’s when he goes truly balls out. With intriguing character design and a fine attention to color that makes this weird planet truly come alive.
That’s not to say McLeod’s a peaceful artist, something you might know if you’d read his “Infinite Kung-Fu.” When the violence turns up in “Kaptara”, as Keith and his captain are beset by a multi-antlered moose thing, the pacing does too. Six-Moose rushes through the trees, with a kinetic motion that is carried throughout the entire sequence, brought to a sudden crawl by some divine intervention. Though “Kaptara” could call itself a “funny book”, McLeod’s action and pacing make it so much more.
And speaking of humor, “Kaptara” continues my own debate about Chip Zdarsky. No one can disprove the fact that Zdarsky is one of the funniest dudes writing in comics, but some of the problems I found in my review of “Howard the Duck” find their way here too. Namely, I’m kind of always aware whenever he’s making a joke. When faced with a threat, Keith screams “I can’t die! I’ve never even kissed a girl! I don’t want to but still!” As cute as that line might be, it doesn’t feel like something a character like Keith, as had been established in the prior twenty pages, would ever say. Zdarsky’s a clever creator, there’s no getting around that. But sometimes his cleverness shines through just a bit too much. It’s why whenever I read a Chip Zdarsky comic, I feel like I’m constantly aware I’m reading a Chip Zdarsky comic.
That’s not to say “Kaptara” isn’t full with great bits. In just one page, motivational ball already seems poised to be the next Lying Cat. Though we are only offered a brief glimpse into it, the world of Kaptara seems to be thriving with a unique and colorful cast that will only grow as the book progresses and possibly shifts away from Keith. Overall, “Kaptara” #1 is a book overflowing with potential that just needs to unleash its imagination and focus more squarely on the planet its named after.Continued below
Final Verdict: 8.6 – Though occasionally too clever for its own good, “Kaptara” #1 is still a confident debut of a title coming from two ambitious creators. Now that we’ve been introduced to Keith and his relationship to Kaptara, hopefully future issues can find the time to explore this weird, delightful planet more fully.