I love the used comic section in my local book store. You truly never know what you are going to find. I was browsing around and I came across this gem. As usual I had never heard of it before, but flipping through it I was blown away by the bright colors inside, also per the normal the cover looked pretty cool. So I was sold. And I am going to go out on a limb and say that no one reading this review has ever heard of this book, but o well I am all about exposing you to something new.
I could find very little information out there on Claudio Sanchez who co authored the book with his wife Chondra Echert. I did find where Claudio is in a band called Coheed and Cambira, which I have never heard of, but he is also the founder of Evil Ink Comics, which is a publisher. It looks like he uses the imprint to publish his own comics which include The Armory Wars, Kill Audio, Key of Z, and Year of the Black Widow. I have not read any other works by him but it is very cool that he started his own publishing company and seems to be working closely with Boom Studios on his projects.
This is not your typical superhero story. This one starts out where the appropriately named villain called the Horse, because he wears a horse head as a mask, is just being released from prison. From there we see The Navigator enter the story as the hero trying to stop Horse’s plot to blow up a building and kill innocent people. The story then flashes back and forth from past to present as we see the life of the Navigator and his upbringing.
This is a very unique story and as the reviews suggest in the book itself, there is nothing out there quite like it. Just before I started reading this one I actually read the back and wished I hadn’t as I felt it gave away what was going to happen. Much to my surprise what I thought would transpire didn’t, but the more I think about it I am not so sure it didn’t. I will explain blow in the spoiler section below.
This is by far one of the most depressing stories I have read in comic form. Usually graphic novels or comics no matter what they are about are not as dark, but this one takes the story to a whole new level. The Navigator’s background is one of the saddest things I have read in a while. The author does a great job of making the reader feel for the main character and grow attached to him, at least it did for me. His story is a little like Bruce Wayne’s but much more extreme, with an abusive father, a death in the family, being bullied at school, and a mother who is not all there mentally. So needless to say he had a rough time. Which again adding all these things together still makes me think that my prediction below still may have happened.
Speaking of the mental illness, that issue plays a part in this whole story. As I mentioned his mother has gone over the deep end, and the story lets the reader see that the main character does seem to suffer from something like this as well, but it is not all together clear what it is or if it is just while he was a kid, and that he gets better when he is older. This is one of the more interesting points of the story and one that is intentionally left vague as to confuse the reader, or at least I think so.
Speaking of the characters in this one I liked them for a superhero book. As I have said this one is quite different, but the characters are ones you can believe in. I felt the Horse more or less resembled the Joker while the Navigator did have some Batman undertones as well. Regardless they are interesting characters and despite some very bizarre scenes in the story the author did a great job of giving these characters life.
The ending was something that I did not expect in any way. I had a theory on how everything was going to play out, but it didn’t go the way I was thinking. With that being said I still think there is a very good possibility that my theory was right. I am not 100% sure but that is my interpretation of the story. Read my spoilers paragraph at the end to find out more. The vagueness of the ending will keep you guessing long after you have finished the book.
The artwork in this one is good nothing over the top. It is a mostly traditional style with some underlying stylized undertones. I think the style and the story complimented each other very well. I got the seriousness from the art and the story, even with the hallucination scenes there was still the seriousness imbedded in the scenes. The colors are what make the artwork in this book. This is one of the most colorful books I have seen. Not only the hallucination scenes but just the whole book in general is very brightly colored. This may seem odd for a serious story but it somehow works and I was not bothered by it in any way. In some strange way I think it helped the story along. Page layouts are mostly typical and nothing to gush over. There are a few full page splashes that you really get to see the magnificent color scheme on display.
Overall this is a very interesting read. It is a very different superhero story that if you are tired of the same old, you will enjoy a nice switch up. The story is solid as well as some believable characters with real world problems that keep them grounded. The artwork is also good and when coupled with some amazing colors bring to life a very vibrant world. At the end there is also a script layout so you can see how each page read, which I always think is pretty neat. There is also a small cover gallery, for a somewhat unknown book there are quite a few variant covers for this one. Check this one out if you are looking for something different.
SPOILERS- As I mentioned above I have my own interpretation of the story and I wanted to share it. Throughout the story you see the Navigator as a child really struggling with his surroundings. You also get to see him have what appears to hallucinations with giant green monsters and other hideous beings. This leads me to believe that he is suffering from the same mental illness that his mother was or something similar. So I think that the Horse and the Navigator are the same person and as the story goes along this aspect is never made clear, but the more I think about it I think it is true. The Navigator created the Horse as his darker half and also created the Navigator, basically he has two personalities. This is not confirmed in the story but the ending really was not what I expected but the more I think about it I think this was the case. The main reason I am thinking they are the same person is because Navigator seems to be one step behind but always seems to be hot on the Horse’s trail. When they confront each other all they do is talk and what the Horse says really makes you think. The ending again more or less solidifies this point, but it is hard to interoperate, and I can make an argument that they are different people as well. But if they are truly different people then to me the story is less fascinating and then there are quite a few scenes that just do not make sense. That is my two cents on the story, there is a very good chance that I may have missed the whole thing.