Captain Kirk’s Comic Review – 12/02/2020

I’m hardly what you might call a cat lover.

I prefer the stable and honest predictability of a dog’s companionship over the fickleness of a feline personality. If cats could talk, their tone would be condescending; their manner would involve forced tolerance and their attitude would be a demanding one.

A cat is the only pet who craps in your house and actively expects you to clean it up. You exist to serve them.

So, it makes sense that Emma Kubert and Rusty Gladd would create a force of chaos that threatens to unravel the fabric of reality embodied in the form of an unapologetic and narcissistic cat in Inkblot #4.

The world of this comic is a fantasy story in which a family of ruling siblings of a realm have discovered and divided the known realms that exist within the void. To prolong their lives, they hunt magical creatures throughout these realms. These are: the Mountain-Lands, the Depths, the Desert-Lands, the Beyond, the Mother-Earth and the Void which is a realm that exists between all of these. Where most of the siblings have separated, leading a portion of their people to each of these realms, bringing war, exploring or to simply to live in peace, one has stayed behind to catalogue all of these exploits, known as the Seeker.

This Sorceress/Arcanist is responsible for the inadvertent call to existence of the selfish demon into her realm. She sleeps, she dreams of runes and creation magic; she stirs, spilling a bottle of ink that coalesces into a living embodiment of some form of chaos magic. It escapes and opens by opening up portals into the other realms from the Seeker’s living castle, the ancestral home of her family. It enters these realms and brings chaos undoing her family’s hold over these realms, forcing them to unite to bring order back to this chaos.

Whimsical but it also has a bit of a gritty edge to it that makes it more than a fantasy but less than a saga. After all, we don’t get too invested in the characters as the focus of the story is more on what they do, as opposed to who they are. We’re also drawn to the nature of the place and the plight of preventing the cat creature from upsetting the balance of the cosmology that Kubert and Gladd have mutually created.

I’m strongly drawn to the art of this book. It has an honesty to it in that the expressions of the characters, that so clearly range from the comical to cute to brutal and savage, imply a sense of authenticity in their presentation. It’s easy to understand the characters’ passions and ambitions because of the stark openness. It isn’t pretentious; it just … is.

I think that goes far in storytelling. If the characters’ motivations and feelings are clearly portrayed, then that not only demonstrates skill in storytelling but in partnered storytelling as well. I love teamwork stories and in the post-statement remarks, both Gladd and Kubert honestly admit that they don’t know where each others’ work begins and ends. It’s a shared love and that’s a motivation that I can definitely admire and get behind.

I like this book because it combines several factors that are a part of my own reality. First, it’s a fantasy story. Not only do I have a love of fantasy but it’s something that I’ve passed on to my kids. We all enjoy escapism and not only has that allowed my oldest daughter – who advocates for national cancer relief and research – some relief during her at-home studies in these pandemic days; but has also enabled my youngest to conquer her dyslexia and read. Of course, both my girls love their completely useless cat in our home, so there is a strong and unexpected affinity between the themes in this story and what I see on a daily basis. Maybe this explains their urging for me to get a dog (a male dog, in that!) to somehow balance this feline indifference with a pet that is actually responsive to its surroundings?

It also encompasses the assumption that cats are to blame for what’s wrong with reality. To be honest, this is something that I have maintained with my family ever since our enormous, “Jabba the Hut”-sized feline barged its way into our own reality! Whenever I look at our oversized houseguest scratching against the furniture, pooping in the corner or demanding to go outdoors by whining at the earliest hours of the day – yeah, there is something wrong with cats in that they have the ability to ignore everything around them to either manage their own comfort or simply let things be!

Sorry – was that a rant?

If so, then I guess this book really ignited something in me that made me look at it and enjoy it for the themes that attracted me But, to be frank, am I so different from any other comic reader?

A cat, fantasy setting and the impetus to balance realms that are being inexplicably linked together when they were originally thought to be separate. There’s an element in this story that will attract and entertain. I like fantasy because I have to be structured and stable in my real life which means I need to escape.

I’m late to the game. My first introduction was Issue #4, which is what instigated this piece. But I went back and read Issues 1, 2 and 3 and I urge you to do the same. It’s s completely fun story that has the potential to not only surprise the reader but provide such necessary distraction during these trying times. I thoroughly enjoyed it and chide myself that I didn’t do so earlier.

Yeah – a cat as the element of change in this book is definitely the trigger for me. At the same time, I’m enjoying this trivial bit of mundanity set against a brand-new universe of fantasy in which to escape. I think other readers would share that same sense of appreciation as well.

Give it a try. See what you think – especially if you’re like me, and you know how uncaring cats can be to an environment that allows for their existence!

Until next week!

Pick of the Week: Inkblot #4

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About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.