‘Polar: The Kaiser Falls Volume 4’ - Advance Hardcover Review

Polar: The Kaiser Falls is a flat-out masterpiece of a graphic novel.  It is gritty, compelling, unapologetically beautiful visual storytelling and features the best of everything this medium has to offer.

The book tells the story of a retired and grizzled hit man.  He is desperate to put the consequences of his former life behind him; however, his reputation as one of the best in the business puts a permanent bullseye on his back that keeps drawing fire the world he’s trying to escape.

It is a bit difficult for me to provide an overall description for the book.  Its as if Pulp Fiction and Samurai Jack had a baby.  It has the grit of sand paper and the energy of animation.  It is truly a unique read.

I don’t really even know where to start on this one, because there are so many superlatives.  Each page is drawn as a well-planned, visionary construction.  Victor Santos controls the pace of the book with brilliant panel work, sometimes creating a frenetic narrative and then settling things immediately with abrupt long shots.  His camera angles are wonderfully dynamic.  His characters are all unique and rich in detail.  The page crackles with visual energy, benefiting from his pragmatic, sophisticated use of strong solid blacks and whites and an intelligent sprinkling of greys and reds.  This is extremely high-level artwork, and if you liked Frank Miller’s Sin City, odds are that will love this book, as well.  At first glance, one may think the art is simply drawn, but you will find yourself reviewing and admiring pages over and over again, mesmerized by the volume of storytelling packed into a minimalist presentation.

As a wonderful bonus, there are several pages dedicated to the page development process.  These takes us from Santos’ initial roughs all the way through final inked layout.

The writing is crisp, fast moving, and yet also rich in the depth of character and background.  Santos is able to create likeable heroes and unlikable villains on short notice that pull you into this story and emotionally attach you to the main character’s journey.  I would have to guess that this was a very tough project for the author/writer in the sense that he had to create a final end scenario that was strong enough to carry the weight of this long-standing character’s narrative history.  I think Santos has done this exceedingly well.  I would wager that fans of this character and this series may not get the ending they wanted for the character, but they will get the ending that provides them the emotional punch and appropriately weighted closure that they deserve.

The final chapter for one of Victor Santos’ favorite creations gets at ending that is a combination of deserved reverence, completeness, shock, and awe that will leave the reader thinking, “Did that really just happen?”  

Summary:
This is a must buy, must read, must keep, and must read again.  I had to use an old Webster’s Thesaurus to find enough superlatives to aptly describe this book.  If you’re wondering why I don’t give this a 5 out of 5, well, it’s simply because I reserve that mark for comics that are technically perfect and generationally monumental, such as Daredevil #181 or X-Men #137Polar stands alone as a master piece, but I would not put it on the same level as these comparisons; however, it is very, very close.

Overview: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Creative Team: Victor Santos (writer/artist)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Click here to purchase.



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